Chris Kempling, the British Columbia teacher suspended by the B.C. College of Teachers, must be shaking his head. In 2003, he was punished for writing letters to the editor of his local paper voicing concern over the promotion of homosexuality in the classroom. The British Columbia Federation of Teachers, his union, was eventually forced to fund Kempling’s legal bills, although it repeatedly tried to skirt its responsibility on this matter despite a BCTF policy mandating funding for cases in conflict with the BCTF.
In August, the BCTF won a decision in an unrelated case before the province’s Court of Appeals, which affirmed an arbitrator’s decision that teachers are allowed to criticize government education policy in parent-teacher interviews and on school bulletin boards.
The BCTF argued that restrictions on addressing education policy within the school setting violated their Charter right of freedom of expression. So where was the BCTF when it came to Kempling’s case? The job of a union is to defend the interests of its members, yet the BCTF was silent when Kempling was harassed for holding traditional moral views. Is the BCTF picking and choosing its causes by ideological standards?