Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Similkameen Spotlight week of Oct. 17, 2005)

An Illegal Strike does not a Martyr Make

  By John Martin

B.C. teachers need a reality check.

It was bad enough when the clown prince of pot, Marc Emery, compared himself to Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.

Now Jinny Sims of the B.C. teacher’s union is suggesting the illegal walkout is not unlike the southern U.S. civil rights protests during the sixties.

In particular, she drew a comparison between the striking members and the bravery of a young Rosa Parks.  Parks shocked a nation some forty years ago when, after a long tiring day at work, she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.

By openly defying the rules and rigors of segregation, Rosa Parks became a symbol and leader in the fight for equality and civil rights.  Like other civil rights protesters who refused to abide by the laws banning Blacks from restaurants, public washrooms and other facilities, Rosa Parks has earned a special place in history.

And now teachers, with a cardboard sign in one hand and Styrofoam cup of coffee in the other, consider themselves one and the same with the freedom marchers. 

Please stop flattering yourselves.

It is completely inappropriate for B.C. teachers to put their labor dispute in the same category as the civil rights movement.  Classroom size, wages and other items may be significant but they don’t belong on the same page as segregation and state sanctioned bigotry.  Seizing the noble legacy of the civil rights crusade to justify an illegal strike is absolutely disgraceful.

For sloppy and reckless use of hyperbole, they deserve an “F”.

Anti-Gordon Campbell protests tend to be quite emotional and enthusiastic in politically polarized British Columbia.  And many an otherwise legitimate demonstration has been compromised by uncalled for references to fascists and Nazis.

Still, it would be nice if the province’s teachers set the bar a little higher and showed some respect for our intelligence.  Jinny Sims; you and your members may have some legitimate beefs with the provincial government.  But understand this – you’re no Rosa Parks.

Dragging in analogies between walking off the job and marching for equality in the face of riot police with tear gas and dogs only cheapens and waters down the significance of critical and pivotal events of the past. 

Meanwhile, B.C.’s teachers better hope their visions of grandeur aren’t contagious; otherwise Gordon Campbell just might start thinking he’s Ronald Reagan.

Remember what the Gipper did when the air traffic controllers walked off the job?

He fired each and every one of them and his personal popularity ratings went through the roof.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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