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Get to the ABCs of standoff


How many snowflakes does it take to cancel school? Quite a few, as long as the forecast matches the weather delivered.

How many provincial Liberals does it take? Just a few. Add a pinch of hysteria, hope it takes hold, and presto.

The Nova Scotia government went ahead with that decision on the weekend, affecting classes Monday, for unfounded reasons. Now they’re paying the price, because the public mood didn’t quite go the way they’d hoped.

This labour dispute with the province’s teachers – although involving crucial issues over what the province can afford in government employees – has been based on public relations tactics. In calling a press conference Saturday to announce the closure of schools Monday, we saw a government down to the wire, looking at a work-to-rule campaign. Closing schools Monday would surely arouse anger among parents.

It did indeed, but it backfired. Parents were angry, but they came out strongly in support of the teachers – in Cumberland County, and elsewhere in the province.

Of the parents scrambling to make alternative arrangements for younger children, certainly, some worried about safety. But if there were concerns, the province had plenty of forewarning to verify whether the bases were covered – as they apparently were with school reinstated Tuesday, and a government hastily flip-flopping on both the cancellation and their resolve for legislation to impose a contract.

Speaking of bases, who is on first, by the way?

This most recent fiasco is further illustration of how badly a game of hardball can turn out.

The teachers union is not blameless in this either. Teachers have continually said this is not about money, it’s about classroom conditions. Yet, when the two sides returned – briefly – to bargaining recently, the union put a demand for a salary increase on the table.

If one thing has become clear in this arduous process, it’s that the majority of the public supports teachers and sympathizes with their classroom concerns. But they also understand the limits to public spending in this province and feel the teachers do pretty well compared to most workers.

The two sides have to get back at it, and concentrate on the issue – that constraints on classroom resources have made many of them unmanageable.

Opposition members have been calling for Education Minister Karen Casey to be fired over this mismanagement of the portfolio. She certainly has lost all credibility in this recent turn of events. Perhaps one member has to wear it, but the public knows this latest flub was the product of a government grasping at straws, not just one single member.

How many provincial Liberals does it take? Just a few. Add a pinch of hysteria, hope it takes hold, and presto.

The Nova Scotia government went ahead with that decision on the weekend, affecting classes Monday, for unfounded reasons. Now they’re paying the price, because the public mood didn’t quite go the way they’d hoped.

This labour dispute with the province’s teachers – although involving crucial issues over what the province can afford in government employees – has been based on public relations tactics. In calling a press conference Saturday to announce the closure of schools Monday, we saw a government down to the wire, looking at a work-to-rule campaign. Closing schools Monday would surely arouse anger among parents.

It did indeed, but it backfired. Parents were angry, but they came out strongly in support of the teachers – in Cumberland County, and elsewhere in the province.

Of the parents scrambling to make alternative arrangements for younger children, certainly, some worried about safety. But if there were concerns, the province had plenty of forewarning to verify whether the bases were covered – as they apparently were with school reinstated Tuesday, and a government hastily flip-flopping on both the cancellation and their resolve for legislation to impose a contract.

Speaking of bases, who is on first, by the way?

This most recent fiasco is further illustration of how badly a game of hardball can turn out.

The teachers union is not blameless in this either. Teachers have continually said this is not about money, it’s about classroom conditions. Yet, when the two sides returned – briefly – to bargaining recently, the union put a demand for a salary increase on the table.

If one thing has become clear in this arduous process, it’s that the majority of the public supports teachers and sympathizes with their classroom concerns. But they also understand the limits to public spending in this province and feel the teachers do pretty well compared to most workers.

The two sides have to get back at it, and concentrate on the issue – that constraints on classroom resources have made many of them unmanageable.

Opposition members have been calling for Education Minister Karen Casey to be fired over this mismanagement of the portfolio. She certainly has lost all credibility in this recent turn of events. Perhaps one member has to wear it, but the public knows this latest flub was the product of a government grasping at straws, not just one single member.

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