EDITORIAL: Reacting to balloons

Qualicum School District trustees might want to think again before going down this road

When does the silly season start? Or, perhaps more accurately, does it ever end?

The provincial election is less than six months away. There will be trial balloons floated by parties and candidates. The reaction to these ideas will be full of vitriol and politically-motivated anger.

Sadly, the battle lines in B.C. are drawn in the same manner election after election. Much like the U.S. in this regard, when there are two dominant parties, the Us vs Them mentality dominates.

The rhetoric could be reduced if reactions to these floated balloons were given the weight they deserve.

If a candidate for any party, from any region of the province, makes a policy suggestion that seems wild and dangerous, does it require response from an official body? Does that not just give fuel to a fire that would have sputtered without help?

Parties are trying to develop campaign platforms right now. Candidates, even sitting MLAs, will suggest planks for those platforms. Many, probably most, of these suggestions won’t make it into the party’s official platform. And it’s not like a plank suggestion for a certain political party is actual government policy. Even when it passes through the convention floor.

If a B.C. Liberal candidate wants the party to support a return to letter grades for all students, it does not mean the B.C. Liberals, if they win again, will direct the education ministry to force Kindergarten teachers to give little Bobby or Suzie an ‘A’ or ‘B’ in fingerpainting.

A trial balloon idea like this certainly doesn’t need to be given the credence of a school board’s scorn. This happened this week at School District 69 (Qualicum)’s board of trustees meeting. A couple of B.C. Liberal constituency associations up north are trying to make this letter-grade issue a B.C. Liberal campaign plank. They may succeed. Their resolution passed at the B.C. Liberal convention.

This week, the local school board wanted to react by sending a letter to Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Mike Bernier, asking for the ramifications of such a move and how this seems to contradict present policy.

In the end, the local school board decided to send the letter to the B.C. Liberal Party president instead. At this point, it’s the more appropriate place to direct the letter, but really?

Is the local school board going to watchdog the policy platforms and trial balloons of the NDP in a similar fashion? Is this a road the trustees want to travel? Sounds like a bumpy, time consuming, politically-motivated path.

— Editorial by John Harding

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