Christy Clark drops bombshell in speech to Union of British Columbia Municipalities
By Michael J Morris
Premier Christy Clark dropped a bombshell to Union of British Columbia Municipalities members when she urged that unionized municipal pay rates to be an issue in the November municipal elections in British Columbia.
I shook my head in wonderment at first glance as unionized municipal pay rates don't even make it into my top 20 major issues for Cranbrook, where I live. Then I chuckled. The premier is facing flack on several fronts so it is the old game of centralized power and decentralized blame and municipalities are easy prey, especially in an election year for them.
With no advance warning to the municipalities, the Clark government released a study by Ernst and Young days before the convention by the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation.
According to a story by Tom Fletcher, "It calculated that unionized municipal staff received pay increases of 38 per cent between 2001 and 2012, twice as much as unionized provincial staff, and ahead of inflation of 23 per cent during the same period."
The Fletcher story added that NDP local government critic Selina Robinson said the report, prepared and leaked without notice to the UBCM, "hit a group of people over the head with a two-by-four."
Clark told the UBCM delegates that she was not there to "point a finger" at anybody (of course not Christy) but "I think it's a legitimate issue to be discussed because it's taxpayers who pay for these compensation costs,"
Clark told reporters after her speech. "Further than that we'll wait until we have new municipal councils to speak with, and then we can talk about the next steps."
Wait for new municipal councils? Then "we can talk about the next steps"!
A bombshell indeed. Just as municipal election campaigns are really getting underway, the premier issues a veiled threat that candidates better make it a major issue, or else. Or else what Christy?
Maybe create a mess like the bolox made of the elementary and secondary school teachers negotiations that go back at least to those days when you were minister of education.
In reality it seems this is an effort by the premier to deflect attention from her government's failings, and appeal to the party's right wing base. Christy will fix those unions.
Here in Cranbrook, there has been a reasonably good relationship between the city and its unionized employees for 14 years after the bitter strike of 2000.
The premier's rant seems typical of conservative politicians these days, and there is nothing Liberal about the BC Liberals -- divide and rule, rather than focus on those things that bring all citizens together for a better community, province and nation. Such a shame.
I hope all candidates in municipalities across British Columbia tell the premier to go gently into that good night.
In the interests of full disclosure, I was a teacher for more than 30 years, secondary in Ontario and college in British Columbia. I was also employed on a contract basis by the Canadian Union of Public Employees as a communications consultant here in Cranbrook during the 2000 unionized municipal workers strike. I am not a member of any political party... My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.