Storm de­lays leg­is­la­ture sit­ting

Lib­eral gov­ern­ment pre­pares to im­pose con­tract on teach­ers

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON/PROVINCE - BY TC ME­DIA STAFF

The weather has post­poned the premier’s plan to re­sume the sit­ting of the leg­is­la­ture to deal with the on­go­ing teach­ers’ con­tract dis­pute.

On Satur­day evening, Premier Stephen McNeil an­nounced he was re­call­ing the leg­is­la­ture Mon­day to ta­ble leg­is­la­tion and “bring an end to the dis­pute as soon as pos­si­ble.”

The leg­is­la­ture will now re­sume sit­ting this evening.

Aside from crit­i­cism from teach­ers for the premier’s de­ci­sion to ta­ble leg­is­la­tion, there was crit­i­cism on so­cial me­dia through­out the day Mon­day from teach­ers and the pub­lic on the plan to re­call the leg­is­la­ture on a day the prov­ince is coping with a bliz­zard.

Busi­nesses, schools and gov­ern­ment of­fices are closed through­out the prov­ince. The tran­sit sys­tem in Hal­i­fax was shut down and peo­ple were cau­tioned by po­lice to stay off the roads due to white­out con­di­tions.

A lot of peo­ple were ques­tion­ing the logic of re­call­ing the leg­is­la­ture dur­ing the storm.

On Mon­day af­ter­noon, the Speaker’s Of­fice an­nounced the re­sump­tion of the third ses­sion of the 62nd gen­eral as­sem­bly has been de­layed un­til 8 p.m. to­day.

“This de­lay is in the in­ter­est of safety due to weather con­di­tions that are more se­vere than ex­pected,” read a no­ti­fi­ca­tion from the Speaker’s Of­fice.

Since Sun­day evening En­vi­ron­ment Canada has had a bliz­zard warn­ing in place. The forecast called for 40 to 50 cen­time­tres of snow in the Hal­i­fax re­gion through­out the day with heavy snow con­tin­u­ing into the evening. Strong winds greatly re­duced vis­i­bil­ity.

The premier him­self re­leased a state­ment Mon­day af­ter­noon.

“We have closely mon­i­tored the storm and it is clear now that con­di­tions will not im­prove be­fore this evening’s sit­ting of the leg­is­la­ture,” McNeil said.

“It is clear the Speaker can­not ask staff to re­port to the leg­is­la­ture this evening. I fully sup­port this de­ci­sion, made in con­sul­ta­tion with se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and emer­gency man­age­ment staff.

“(To­day) we will pro­ceed with our plans so the lives of stu­dents and their par­ents can re­turn to nor­mal as soon as pos­si­ble,” the premier said.

Op­po­si­tion House Leader Chris d’En­tremont, the MLA for Ar­gyle-Bar­ring­ton, couldn’t be­lieve it took un­til Mon­day af­ter­noon to can­cel the re­sump­tion of the leg­is­la­ture, given the weather con­di­tions through­out the day.

“It shows the blind de­ter­mi­na­tion the premier has on this is­sue, that he’s not will­ing to pay at­ten­tion to what is go­ing on around him,” said d’En­tremont. “He can’t even get the weather right.”

D’En­tremont said the pub­lic has a right to par­tic­i­pate in the process by be­ing in the gallery, or even out­side protest­ing. Ob­vi­ously, he said, the pub­lic wouldn’t have been able to do this Mon­day evening given the bliz­zard.

As for the process that lies ahead in the leg­is­la­ture, it will un­fold over sev­eral days.

On Mon­day, the prov­ince’s NDP said it has launched a web­site to al­low peo­ple to show ap­pre­ci­a­tion for teach­ers by shar­ing sto­ries about the im­pact teach­ers have in class­rooms and com­mu­ni­ties.

NDP MLAs will share the sto­ries in the leg­is­la­ture this week.

“My mother, my grand­mother and my great-grand­mother were all teach­ers. I have seen first-hand in my fam­ily and in my com­mu­nity the hard work and ded­i­ca­tion of teach­ers to our chil­dren and their fu­ture,” said NDP Leader Gary Bur­rill.

“While Stephen McNeil keeps telling us we can’t make the needed in­vest­ments in our class­rooms, we are lis­ten­ing to teach­ers, par­ents and stu­dents who are clear that we can and must in­vest in our chil­dren and their ed­u­ca­tion.”

Mean­while on Mon­day, NSTU pres­i­dent Li­ette Doucet said in a me­dia re­lease that com­ments made by the premier ear­lier that day on CBC’s In­for­ma­tion Morn­ing demon­strated how lit­tle he un­der­stands about the cur­rent stand of teach­ers, namely, she said, when McNeil said the leg­is­la­tion to be in­tro­duced will give teach­ers the abil­ity to teach.

“Over the past two months teach­ers have only been fo­cused on teach­ing in their class­rooms and the premier’s com­ments show a com­plete lack of re­spect for their pro­fes­sional abil­i­ties and judg­ment,” Doucet said.

“If the premier re­ally wants to help teach­ers teach, he’ll put in place hard caps from Grades P-12, he’ll pro­vide the nec­es­sary fund­ing to sup­port stu­dents with spe­cial needs, he’ll bring in pos­i­tive re­forms such as im­ple­ment­ing an at­ten­dance and dis­ci­pline pol­icy,” Doucet said. “But the premier isn’t in­ter­ested in do­ing any of those things, all he’s in­ter­ested in do­ing is pick­ing need­less fights with unions.”

The premier said on Satur­day, how­ever, that af­ter the re­jec­tion of three ten­ta­tive agree­ments by teach­ers “it is clear there is an im­passe.”

All three deals had been rec­om­mended to teach­ers by the NSTU ex­ec­u­tive. The lat­est deal was re­jected last week by 78.5 per cent of the teach­ers who voted.

CP PHOTO

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