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Opposition leader touches base with Castlegar teachers

Opposition Leader John Horgan, right, speaks with picketing teachers and parents on June 2 in Castlegar. At Horgan
Opposition Leader John Horgan, right, speaks with picketing teachers and parents on June 2 in Castlegar. At Horgan's right is Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy and fourth from right, Nelson Creston MLA Michelle Mungall.
— image credit: Jim Sinclair

John Horgan, recently acclaimed leader of the NDP provincial opposition made a Castlegar stop on Monday, meeting with picketing teachers and parents along 7th Avenue, where Twin Rivers Elementary, Castlegar Primary and Stanley Humphries Secondary are located.

Horgan and his entourage which included area NDP MLA's Katrine Conroy and Michelle Mungall, had been in Nelson earlier in the day, and had a trip to Waneta coming up after Castlegar.

Horgan addressed the crowd of about 30, beginning with personal background relating to his high opinion of the public school system.

"When I was in high school I was off the rails," he said. "I was raised by a single mother, my dad dies when I was a tot. I understand poverty, and I was going in the wrong direction. It was a public education teacher who got me back on track, and changed my life. Now I stand before you, I have a Master's degree… and I'm going to be the Premier of B.C. and it's because of public education."

"The Liberal government, since 2002 when Christy Clark was the Minister of Education, has bargained unfairly," Horgan later told the Castlegar News. "They tried to provoke a strike so they could legislate people back to work, and they stripped contracts on issues like class size and class composition."

"They had an obligation in this round of bargaining to put those issues on the table and put money on the table as well. When a government says they don't have enough money for this, they're saying it's not a priority, and I think for most British Columbians it is. If we're not as educated as we can be, we're not going to be able to compete in the modern economy."

Asked how the modus operandi of an NDP government would differ in a situation like collective bargaining with teachers, Horgan concluded, "Get back to the bargaining table…get off the front pages… get off the six o'clock news and negotiate fairly. Give respect and respect will come back to you."

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