I’m sorry that you did not take my advice in my last letter when I suggested that you should get teachers back into classrooms as soon as possible. I’m sure your government would have much more support right now if you had taken my advice but I understand that sometimes the right message just comes at the wrong time.
Now, I’m writing to you about what you’ve said in response to the breakdown in talks to end the teachers’ strike. You said that you want a negotiated deal that taxpayers can afford. This has left me with a lot of questions.
Firstly, your use of the word taxpayers. I’m sure you realize that parents who want their children in school are taxpayers and that teachers are taxpayers and some are parents too?
Secondly, in a rich province such as ours, is it fair that teachers have been spending an average of $1,200 of their after tax income to provide resources for classrooms?
I think you and I have different perspectives on what taxes should be used for. I see taxes as public funds, our collective contributions to the public good, the spending of which should be prioritized for what our most vulnerable citizens need. Correct me if I’m wrong but you seem to think that taxes are best spent on providing corporate welfare. Do I have that right?
And while we’re talking about paying out large sums of taxpayer money, I’m still stunned that your government said it was a good deal for taxpayers when you agreed to pay $750 million to settle legal claims in California against Powerex.
I think we disagree on what a good deal for taxpayers is.
Citizens of B.C. are still not sure how they were roped into paying for the new roof on B.C. Place Stadium or the Winter Olympics while your party was in power when there are so many other needs in the province. Like childhood poverty.
Does it ever bother you that B.C. has such a high number of children who are starving every day, where the only meal they may get for a day may be the one they get at school through the breakfast or lunch programs? Or that so many teachers store extra crackers and cheese for those students who can’t attend to learning because they are so hungry?
I know you and your son wanted to work on a Free The Children project in Kenya, but what about working on freeing the children in B.C. from hunger?
But if that’s too big a task, how about freeing up their teachers so that children can go to school? At least there they’ll get a meal, one way or another.
During the election campaign you promised voters that B.C. would be “debt free” under your leadership so how do you explain the huge debt you have incurred since becoming Premier?
I wonder too if B.C. can really afford to entice corporations here with such low corporate taxes when corporations like Imperial Metals leave taxpayers with huge costs like the one that we have to bear for the Mount Polley tailings pond spill.
As you can see, there are many things that confuse me when you talk about what taxpayers can afford.
I am also puzzled by who you mean when you talk about taxpayers. Currently in B.C. the following groups of citizens/taxpayers are registering their dissent with the way you are governing the province: ferry users, seniors, midwives, nurses, health care workers, doctors, truckers, environmentalists, fishermen, parents who want daycare, parents who want their children in school, paramedics, anti-pipeline activists, climate change activists, lawyers, farmers, poverty activists, people with disabilities and of course teachers. That’s a big group of taxpayers/citizens who disagree with you about what taxpayers can afford…
Tuesday would have been such a different day if you had used the pickled vodka to toast the end of the teachers’ strike and the reopening of schools .
Instead, parents all across the province are pondering the costs of not having schools open on Tuesday and the costs they have to bear while you are Premier.
With kind regards from a taxpayer,
This piece originally appeared on Lizanne Foster’s blog and is reprinted with permission.
Photo: flickr/Tomash Devenishek