Cape Breton Post
MLA CRITICIZED FOR LACK OF LIBRARY SUPPORT
After more than 12 years of discussion, it is simply ridiculous that we don’t have a central library suitable for the times here in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM).
We live in the Information Age. How can anyone expect a community to get ahead without an up-to-date library? Apparently, the main problem is money. Representatives of the CBRM say it does not have enough money, and that the provincial government refuses to contribute funding for the library. One councillor also said that if the province is not on board, the feds would not contribute. Checking into details, I called the premier’s office to find out if either a formal or informal request for provincial funding for the library had actually been made by CBRM.
I was unsuccessful reaching Premier Iain Rankin directly, but was told by his assistant, Doris Robbins, that my question would be taken to him, and I would get a reply.
What I was trying to learn was who was responsible for the drag on funding, and I wanted to make sure that CBRM was not just passing the buck. Several days later, I got a call back from Robbins, who said that “no request for funding had been made” by CBRM for the library. When I brought this information back to a couple of the councillors, I was told there had indeed been requests made for funding, and there was the paper trail to prove it.
One reminded me of Premier Stephen McNeil’s very clear “no” to funding for a new library when he attended the opening of the second berth on the Sydney waterfront. It was then that I remembered reading that in the Cape Breton Post.
So clearly there was one ASK if not more. And the province’s answer was no. I have never known a Rankin who wasn’t smart, so why would the premier say there had been no request made?
Perhaps he doesn’t see himself and Premier McNeil as belonging to the same government. Perhaps he was mis-advised by the local MLA, Derek Mombourquette, who was most certainly consulted on the matter. Mombourquette has given a different answer every time he has been asked about supporting the new library. The first time, during hospital announcements, he said no, that there had already been enough money spent. The second time he was asked, he indicated no, adding that health and education were the priorities. This is a strange answer given that a library IS education.
It is pretty clear that MLA and Education Minister Mombourquette has been anything but supportive for a modern new central library. But he has been diligently working on an expansion of Centre 200 which will have new courts built and other updating improvements. No doubt, there will be provincial funding for that. From what I have heard the back story is that Mombourquette was “hounded by parents” who said their kids have no place to play basketball. Gee whiz, you would think the minister of education could arrange something with the school gymnasiums for after school play. He doesn’t have to build a 45,000-square foot extension just so the kids can play basketball.
It is election year, and maybe Mombourquette believes a Centre 200 extension will get him re-elected. He should focus more on education issues like returning the library technician positions his government removed from schools, and bringing overall library services into the 21st century. Jane MacNeill