Nova Scotia Liberal leader, Stephen McNeil, takes questions from members of the Amherst & Area Chamber of Commerce last night at the Tantramar Theatre in Amherst. DAVE MATHIESON - AMHERST DAILY NEWS
SPRINGHILL – Education, schools and who’s doing what for both are shaping up to be a major campaign issue here in Cumberland County when Nova Scotia goes back to the polls.
Nova Scotia Liberal leader Stephen McNeil is not impressed with the NDP government and Education Minister Ramona Jennex, and he’s not impressed with Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie, either.
In a late-March interview with the Amherst Daily News after he tabled a petition and 1,000 letters calling for renovations at River Hebert District High School to resume, Baillie lamented his resolution for work to resume immediately was tabled after it received opposition. A unanimous decision is needed for a resolution to be addresses the same day it is presented.
McNeil feels Baillie painted the Liberals with the same brush as the NDP. While Baillie’s request for waiver and passage of his resolution without debate received a series of nays in the legislature, those who opposed it weren’t from the Liberal camp, McNeil said.
“None at all,” McNeil said. “We’d never say nay about that.”
Baillie, however, says if McNeil and the Liberals didn’t oppose his motion, they also didn’t do anything to support it.
“You’re not usually allowed to present a resolution and debate it without unanimous consent… I heard some nos. The Hansard recorded some nos. If he says he sat on his hands, whatever… The NDP voted against my resolution and the Liberals were either silent or the voted against it.”
McNeil says Baillie’s issue is with the NDP and, frankly, so is his.
Last week Education Minister Jennex called for any scheduled or pending school closures to be suspended after a number of communities went through the school review process with their school boards.
“This is nothing more than a political decision,” McNeil said. “ They’re not suspended. They’re held off until after the election. Putting communities through the gut wrenching process only to pull out at the eleventh-hour. At it’s worst, is politicking.”
Baillie, too, said he thinks the minister’s motives were insincere, but said he’s in favour of suspending the school closures.
“I’ve been calling on them for a moratorium on school closures because the system is flawed,” Baillie said. “But the way it was done. I think everyone sees that for what it is.”
The NDP became Nova Scotia’s governing party in 2009 after securing 31 of the legislatures 52 seats. Now in its fourth year, the government has until June 14, 2014, to call for an election before its term expires but an election call could come as early as this spring or fall.