Teachers urged to engage in provincial election

April 21, 2015
ATA News Staff
KIM DEWAR
President Mark Ramsankar urges members to get involved in the provincial general election during the shooting of a video that was released April 21.

Alberta Teachers’ Association President Mark Ramsankar is urging teachers to actively participate in the provincial general election campaign that will see Albertans vote May 5.

In a video statement released April 21, Ramsankar is calling on teachers to stand up for schools by raising awareness of educational issues with candidates and with their friends and neighbours.

“Talk to your family, your friends and your neighbours about the importance of standing up for students, schools and our public education system,” Ramsankar said. “Support your preferred candidate through a donation of your time or money.”

“We are at an important crossroads for public education and the teaching profession in Alberta,” he said. “Your active participation in the upcoming provincial general election is vital to ensuring that education is a priority.”

Ramsankar also encouraged teachers to learn more about the educational issues that are being discussed in the campaign by visiting www.standupforschools.ca. The website includes an overview of a variety of issues, educational platforms of the parties with representation in the legislature and a tracking of education-related news from the campaign trail.

The Association set up the website as part of its 2015 election readiness plan, approved by Provincial Executive Council in February.

Election readiness plan highlights

  • StandUpForSchools.ca website
  • Online and outdoor advertising to promote the website
  • Tear-away cards to be distributed by teachers
  • Grants for ATA locals to engage teachers and parents locally
  • Support for and promotion of Student Vote (www.studentvote.ca)
  • hosting and recording of an all-party forum (watch at www.teachers.ab.ca)

Locals have been provided with printed tear-away cards promoting StandUpForSchools.ca on a formula of five cards per teacher, and locals may be asking teachers to help pass these out publicly. Similarly, locals may be using their grants to engage teachers in activities like candidate meet-and-greet events or forums. Ramsankar encourages teachers to participate in these activities and to engage their schools in the Student Vote program.

The Association’s advertising to promote StandUpForSchools.ca is pre-empting the previous publicity campaign around Stop the Cuts and bettereducationtogether.com. The ATA decided not to continue with the Stop the Cuts campaign in order to comply with the third party election advertising laws set out in the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act. The law requires all parties who engage in political advertising during an election campaign period to register with Elections Alberta, publicly disclose spending amounts and comply with spending limits.

Political advertising is defined in the law as, advertising “with the purpose of promoting or opposing any registered party or the election of a registered candidate, including advertising that takes a position on an issue with which a registered party or registered candidate is associated.”

The Association chose to undertake non-partisan engagement advertising as opposed to positional or political advertising, said associate coordinator of communications Jonathan Teghtmeyer.

“The Stop the Cuts campaign would have been viewed as political advertising because it took a stance on issues that could be associated with a party or candidate,” Teghtmeyer said. “Stand Up For Schools raises the issues in education and provides highlights of all of the parties’ positions on those issues. We have a policy of non-partisanship, and this approach is consistent with our policy and with the law.”

Third party advertising rules came into public discussion at the beginning of the campaign period when the Alberta Federation of Labour stated that they would be pulling down their Better Way Alberta campaign because of the third party advertising laws. ❚