It apparently wasn’t a surprise to the citizens of Cowichan Valley when the B.C. Minister of Education, George Abbott, fired the nine-member Cowichan Valley School Board on the weekend.
As both Cindy E. Harnett of the Victoria Times and Jeremy Nuttall of The Province explain, the Cowichan Board had already stated it had no plans to submit a balanced budget — in spite of the fact that all the other 60 B.C. school boards had already done so, as well as their own Secretary Treasurer!
So what might be going on? Well, according to Abbott, the five Cowichan members who voted in favour of a deficit budget — which is against B.C. law — were involved in nothing more than political grandstanding. So, what might that grandstanding look like?
Well, it might look very similar to what happened to the Toronto District School Board, Canada’s largest school board, on July 31st, 2002. They voted in favour of a deficit budget, a clear violation of the Ontario Education Act and were subsequently taken over by trustee Paul Christie. Check out this Wikipedia entry and scroll down to “School Board Issues” for all the details.
However, what is especially interesting is that the Wikipedia link listed the TDSB Chair at that time as Donna Cansfield, now a member of Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal cabinet! Plus, Kathleen Wynn was also a TDSB trustee at that time, running for the position of Chair but losing to Cansfield.
And, like Cansfield, Wynn is also in the current McGuinty Liberal cabinet and has been since the Ontario Liberals won in October 2003. In fact, Wynn had a very long stint as Education Minister! Meaning, that following the Board’s firing in the summer of 2002, both ran in the next scheduled provincial election for the political party that was not in power when they were fired.
So, it would be interesting to know what the five in the Cowichan board who voted NO to a balanced budget plan to do during the spring of 2013 when a provincial election in B.C. is expected. If they run for the B.C. NDP, for example, which is, of course, their right, would their current political grandstanding now be interpreted as opportunistic? Only time will tell.
Oh, and by the way, Qualicum Beach Oceanside trustees are apparently supporting the fired Cowichan trustees. No suprise there I suppose because taxpayers money is scarce everywhere in the country. Which brings me full circle some ten years later to the TDSB. Like Cowichan Valley and Qualicum trustees, the TDSB are once again claiming they can cut no more!
Hmm, like the political volitility in B.C. right now, could the fact that Ontario currently has a minority government (that, technically could fall at any time) have anything to do with the fact that once again the TDSB is “struggling” to balance their budget?
Political grandstanding indeed!