WE ALL BEGIN THE NEW YEAR with a strong sense of the importance of friends and allies and a reminder of how quickly our world can change. The tragedy which has unfolded in Southeast Asia over the past several weeks also reminds us all that we must care for one another as individuals, as unions and as nations.

We ended the 2004 year at the BC Federation of Labour convention - where hundreds of trade unionists came together to debate and discuss the major issues of the day and to decide on future strategy. At that convention FPSE put forward an emergency resolution concerning the erosion of literacy programs and their support systems, and we received overwhelming support. The convention also endorsed an updated education policy. As Chair of the BC Fed's Education Committee, I am very pleased that the committee's work had such a positive outcome.

Now we enter 2005 - a year that will be a defining one on a number of fronts. For all FPSE members, the May 17, 2005 election will be very important. We know that the most vulnerable in our society - many of whom were our students when they could get access to our programs - have a huge stake in the outcome. This is one of the reasons that we have partnered with the Canadian Federation of Students to support a "Rock the Vote" campaign (www.rockthevotebc.com), encouraging young people and others to get registered and vote in the election. We have also devoted considerable resources to activating our membership and informing the public about the issues facing post-secondary education.

For many FPSE locals, significant work is occurring to bring about a positive conclusion to bargaining in 2005. Many critical issues can and should be dealt with at the bargaining table. The provincial government's expensive advertising campaign to convince British Columbians that this is the best place to learn, to work, to live and to invest has continued at an unrelenting pace throughout the Fall and into the Winter. We know that an essential part of this vision of our province being a great place to live relies on adequate funding for quality education and equity in our institutions.

The coming year will see us working together as never before. For the many post-secondary educators who have not traditionally gotten involved in elections, I strongly urge you to think about making your voice heard in the next provincial election. The public listens carefully when educators talk about our students and our institutions. Your provincial federation and your local association have resources and supports to help you become involved at whatever level you care to.

I wish you all a wonderful year and I look forward to each of us, individually and collectively, making a difference in our institutions and communities this year.

About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.