Albertans trust teachers far more than they trust the UCP, says AFL
The following is a statement from Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan:
EDMONTON - After picking fights with doctors, nurses and unions during the pandemic, the UCP government has now decided to unleash its political slander machine on teachers and their representatives at the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA).
The UCP’s recent attack on the ATA isn’t really about protecting students; it’s about trying to discredit an organization that has been a vocal and effective critic of the UCP’s disastrous COVID-19 response; its backward ideological curriculum; and its dangerous cuts to public education.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the ATA has been a much-needed thorn in the government’s side; pushing for simple, commonsense measures on masks, air quality and social distancing in schools, despite the UCP’s wish for the virus to simply disappear.
The ATA has also been a vocal and successful advocate for a modern and thoughtful curriculum that helps give students the knowledge, skills and flexibility they’ll need to lead successful lives after they leave school. At the same time, the ATA has been an effective champion for quality public education in Alberta, something that runs counter to the UCP’s focus on funding cuts and promotion of private schools.
It is in the context of the ATA’s effective criticism of the UCP that Albertans should view the outrageous comments made recently by Premier Jason Kenney and Education Minister Adrianna LaGrange. Kenney and LaGrange are suggesting that teachers can’t be trusted to keep students safe. However, the evidence clearly shows that the UCP is grossly twisting the historical record in a shameful attempt to slander the teaching profession, in general, and the ATA, in particular.
Was there a teacher who preyed upon his students? Yes. Did the ATA turn a blind eye, as the Premier and Education Minister suggest? The answer is emphatically no. In fact, as soon as the teachers’ transgressions came to light, the ATA did its job and made sure he never stepped foot in a classroom again.
The fact that Kenney and LaGrange would stoop to twisting a 15-year-old case to besmirch the reputation of the teaching profession tells us far more about the UCP than it does about teachers or the ATA.
What it tells us is that Kenney is an authoritarian leader who will do literally anything – no matter how outrageous – to silence and discredit his critics in an attempt to hold onto power.
If there is anything positive that comes from this unsavoury incident, it’s that it exposes the Premier and his followers for what they really are – thugs and bullies who are not fit to govern.
At the end of the day, we are confident that the majority of Albertans will be repelled by these tactics, not persuaded by them. If the question is “who can you trust more to keep our kids safe -- teachers or the UCP?” the answer is clear. Albertans will side with teachers over Kenney and his cronies any day of the week.
With all of this in mind, the Alberta Federation of Labour will continue to stand with teachers and the ATA. We will work with them to keep our province’s children safe during the pandemic and always. We will work with them to protect public education from cuts and privatization. We will also work with them to stop the UCP’s outrageous and ideological curriculum. And we will not rest until the worst government in our province’s modern history is removed from the halls of power. That is truly the best way to keep our children safe.
Director of Communications, AFL