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In his own words

June 9, 2015 ATA News Staff

Legislature transcripts provide glimpse of new minister’s views

Former teacher David Eggen officially became Alberta’s education minister on May 24. The ATA News will include a backgrounder story on Eggen in the next school year. In the meantime, we’ve gathered a sampling of Eggen’s education-related comments from recent legislature transcripts.

Right to strike

“Given that the Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed the constitutional right of public-sector workers to strike as a fundamental freedom and given that Alberta’s legislation not only prohibits certain public-sector employees from striking but also fines them astronomical amounts for simply threatening to strike, will this minister affirm today that he will not enforce these essentially illegal laws as directed towards public-sector workers?”
— Questioning Ric McIver, then minister of jobs, skills, training and labour, March 17, 2015

Public service salaries and pensions

“Given that this government is not just attacking public-sector workers but also undermining the essential public services that we all rely upon and given that this government has consistently slashed public spending in the pursuit of an arrogant, right-wing agenda while pretending to be progressive, are these now your true stripes that you are showing? I sure smell a big, fat skunk.”
— Questioning Dave Hancock, then minister of human services, Nov. 27, 2013

Legislated settlement

“Given that using legislation to force an agreement makes a mockery of collective bargaining, undermines the authority of democratically elected trustees, reduces the integrity of the teaching profession, and punctuates this government’s attack on public education in general, why won’t this government restore funding before we see long-term, irreparable damage to our public education system?”
— Questioning Jeff Johnson, then minister of education, May 14, 2013

Education funding

“Given that this premier has been prancing around with this teachers’ agreement like she’s just bagged a moose for her wall while at least $100 million has been siphoned off school and classroom budgets —not all the teachers are signing it; that’s for sure — why don’t you drop the cuts to public education before the damage becomes irreversible?”
— Questioning Alison Redford, then premier, April 24, 2013

Provincial achievement tests

“You know, I’m less inclined to head down this path, but I mean, we’re looking for ways to save money, and we’re short in this budget for public education. I know that the PAT exams for Grade 3 are going to cost us — I don’t know how much. Is it a million three to run it or a million, let’s say, rounded off? . . . So we’ve got a million bucks right there — right? — that we can hire some teachers with if we eliminate the Grade 3 PATs straightaway.”
— Addressing Jeff Johnson, then minister of education, during consideration of the 2013/14 estimates of the Ministry of Education, March 20, 2013

Provincial Framework Agreement

“Given that the Education minister used teachers’ private e-mails to contact them with his PC ad campaign and continues to interfere with local negotiations by telling school boards what they can and cannot offer teachers and given that this minister, as well, blew off a golden opportunity to settle with teachers in the fall, when will this government take responsibility for the failure of provincial contract talks and stop interfering with local negotiations?”
— Questioning Manmeet Bhullar, then acting minister of education, March 5, 2013

School fees

“I know there’s a compelling argument talking about school fees on a school board level, on a school level, on a very localized level, but once again we’re inserting a signpost here, a direction that we want to go as a society for public education, to say that we do not, we should not, and we will not have instructional school fees built into our public education system.”
— Speaking to third reading of Bill 3 of 2012, Education Act, Nov. 8, 2012

Corporate presence in schools

“Given that the education system is relying on P3s for infrastructure and on school fees for instructional costs and with reports of corporate sponsorship for schools in Calgary, would this minister explain what he will do to reverse this race to the bottom where piece by piece the integrity of our public school system is being sold off?”
— Questioning Jeff Johnson, then minister of education, Oct. 31, 2012

Private schools

“Although sometimes our reputation as a province is more to the right side of the spectrum, we have probably more public schools and fewer private schools than almost any other province in the country. I think that’s a testament to the fact that we value our public education more and certainly don’t preclude the possibility of people making a choice for a private school, nor would I ever suggest that we should as long as people are paying for it themselves. I think it’s a bit duplicitous that we actually direct public funds to a private school, but that’s a discussion for another day.
— Speaking to a proposed amendment to Bill 3 of 2012, Education Act, allowing the minister of education to make regulations with respect to private schools, Oct. 30, 2012

Inclusive education funding

“This PC government is supposed to be funding school boards so that they can properly support students with special needs. However, the Edmonton public school board recently reported that it has been forced to increase special-needs funding by $21.8 million, or about 31 per cent. Even with the modest pre-election announcement for special ed here, the funding gap is huge. Why is the provincial government forcing school boards to carry this funding shortfall, which ultimately results in shortchanging every student in public education?”
— Questioning Thomas Lukaszuk, then deputy premier, May 30, 2012 ❚

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