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The BCTF’s timing ensured the opening question for Fleming would not be about the good news of there being a plan but the bad news of the union critique.
“Did you not get their buy-in on this?” asked Rob Shaw of The Vancouver Sun.
Fleming had tried to get the BCTF to buy into the plan. The government included the union in the consultations and believed it was generally on side.
NDP sources, irked by what they regarded as a last-minute double cross, told reporters the draft release for the announcement had included a testimonial from Mooring herself. It was removed after the union balked.
Thus did Fleming discover what other New Democrats learned in the 1990s: the BCTF is not the NDP’s friend and ally when the party is in government.
The education minister wasn’t about to admit any of that in Wednesday’s press conference. Instead Fleming put his diplomatic skills to the test in glossing over the union’s withholding of support.
“I value the BCTF, its president, Teri Mooring, for all of the hard work they’ve done in collaboration with our ministry,” the education minister told reporters. “They are indeed a critical part of our education restart steering committee.”
In all, about two dozen teachers were sitting on the various working groups that helped put together the restart plan, according to the minister.
“It’s OK that not all of them are quite there yet,” said Fleming. “They’re a critical role at the table and their input is valued. I expect that will continue to be something that’s directly relayed to me and to all of our education stakeholders.