BCTF Strike Rally

Written by Harold McNeill on March 7th, 2012. Posted in Editorials


June 5, 2012: Brenda Peacock, Jane Tufnail, Andrea Doak, Kate Reynolds across the street from Gabriola Elementary School on day one of the three-day strike. (Derek Kilbourn photo)


June 4, 2014:  This was posted by Kari McNeill, our daughter, on FB Page.  Her sister and our other daughter, Christine LeClair, was at one time a teacher so, I suppose, I am biased in these matters. But this postcard makes a pretty awesome statement as Governments (in general) never went after the Wall Street Traders, Enron Fraud Artists, or the Dot Com Billionaires who helped to push many local, state, provincial and national economies near bankruptcy.  Have you perhaps had a chance to read what some state governments (e.g. Texas) have been doing to Education in the US?  In Canada, we are not that far behind.

Note: (June 3, 2014): This story was originally posted in March, 2012 and is being brought forward as a result of the current lock-out/strike situation.

It has been nearly 40 years since I attended a major strike rally and walked down Government Street carrying a picket sign, but  today I joined ranks with 7000 BCTF and other union members, as they marched from Centennial Square to the grounds of the Legislature. The crowd stretched from the foot of the Legislative steps back down Government Street to Humbolt Street and beyond.

When a similar number of Police members (that was my career) and their supporters marched back in the 1970’s, the BCTF and other unions stepped forward to assist our small number in a very difficult negotiating period.

Today, Unions members from every part of British Columbia as well as from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, stood in solidarity with the BC Teachers as they stood to protest the introduction of Bill 22.

As I understand this Bill, it will roll back teachers rights in manner very similar to a 2002 Bill that rolled back their contracts and inserted draconian new sections. The Bill was introduced by Christi Clarke who was Education Minister at the time. That Bill, in 2007, was ruled illegal by the BC Supreme Court, but by then the damage had been done.

One particular section of the new Bill disproportionately impacts children with Learning Disabilities, a subject is near and dear to the hearts of members of our family. For the past 40 years we worked to maintain a balance for our son in a system in which the disabled and other disadvantaged persons always take the biggest hit when cutbacks in services appear necessary.  (Reference series of links in the footer).

Since 2002, cuts in educational funding tended to increase class sizes while at the same time reducing the number of teachers and special need aids who work with the disabled. This has not only resulted in an increasing workload for regular classroom teachers, it has also reduced their ability to help special needs students. This has also impacted mainstream students as well, as teachers must split time to provide additional help to those children who, through no fault of their own, need special attention.

While the new Bill removes the illegal sections, the Liberals have simply re-introduced those same sections in almost exactly the same form just differently worded. I suppose the thinking on the part of Government is that it could take another five years for the courts to again make a ruling. That may sound cynical, but succeeded last time.

Besides doing away with the teachers legal right to strike, the Bill includes a set of massive fines in the event teachers do not fully comply, but even at that I would be very surprised if the teacher’s and other unions just folded their tents and walked away. While I very much support our system of government, I do not support their taking actions that by any measure are not warranted.

Photo: Dad and his daughter stand on Government Street in support their teacher wife and mother.

Speaking to several teachers today and listening to the various speakers, I cannot help but think the Government of Christi Clarke has bitten off a much larger section of the labour union than they will be able to swallow. One day they will certainly pay the price.

Why the Government did not opt for some form of binding arbitration, I cannot fathom as it was the same route they tried to follow with the police and in that case, it ended very badly for the Government at both the Federal and Provincial level.

Over the past several months (and years) the Liberals seem intent on shooting themselves in one foot every chance they get. Their chances of surviving the next election becomes more remote with each passing day. (Note: September 2014: As we now see, strange things can happened as the Liberals pulled a rabbit out of the hat and were re-elected).

On a final positive note, two of the final speakers at the rally were two students from Spectrum High School. These young ladies, about Grade 11, spoke most eloquently to the issues at hand and left the crowd motivated to move forward with the heavy work of challenging this government legislation.

I encourage you to pick up a BCTF sign and place it on your front lawn in a show of solidarity with the teachers and children of this Province. I have placed one of their signs on our front lawn.

Harold McNeill
Legislative Buildings
Victoria, BC
March 6, 2012


Recent: Support Christian Obeck   An excellent short summary of why this strike is likely to continue.

An excellent article appears in Staffroom Confidential, What is this strike about? A moving letter from a Saanich teacher.  Take a moment to read.

Reference, March 6, 2012, Vancouver Sun Article by Joel Bakan:

Chapter 6 of the article, Crime and Punishment, further refences the subject under the title “The Hidden Victims of Tough on Crime Legislation”  The post was made public in early October 2011.

Most recently, on November 10, 2011, the Times Colonist, Vancouver Sun and other media carried a tragic story about a disabled man held in jail for seven months because of CLBC was not unable to find a home for that man. It is well established that the long-term costs of keeping a person in jail is far greater than finding and paying for a support system within the community.

November 12, 2011, the Times Colonist carried an Adrian Raeside editorial cartoon making direct reference to the above Times Colonist article.

March 6, 2012  Photo Gallery Attached of which three crowd photos are by permission of Facebook friend Denise Savoie.

Rally Makes it way down Government Street

The Crowd Stretched from the foot of the Legislative steps,
down Government Street past Humbolt and beyond.

Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Dix
(Photos taken at










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  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.


    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.


    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman