Education

Spring 2012 legislative session ends

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After about 6 weeks in the legislature, I’ve got say that this was one of the most bizarre sessions in my 9 years as MLA for Argyle.

As a quick explanation of legislative sessions, the Government is in charge of the daily operation of the house, calling bills and business for us to debate and work on. They of course call their pieces of legislation and try to keep the house open for at least the hours that were called the previous day. Towards the end of the session the longest hours were Wednesday when we, the opposition, get to call bills and resolutions for debate. Otherwise we only sat for a couple of hours during the daily routine, which is a set agenda for introduction of bills, resolutions and petitions. It also includes the prescribe hour long question period.

What I am trying to get at, beyond the budget, this NDP government had no legislative agenda to present to Nova Scotians. It reminded those who have been elected a while, like an old government that is out of good ideas. Unfortunately there were a number of good ideas presented by the PC Caucus that would be important legislation for Nova Scotia. The following is our end-of-session press release that was sent out criticising the government for it’s ineffectiveness.

Darrell Dexter’s NDP government failed to take action on the major issues Nova Scotians care about during the Spring session of the legislature which ended today.

“Nova Scotians should be rightfully disappointed to hear their government did nothing to protect them from hospital shutdowns and rising power rates in this House session,” said PC leader Jamie Baillie. “Parents should be rightfully disappointed in the NDP’s weak stance on bullying.”

The NDP government refused to pass PC legislation that would end the type of healthcare labour shutdown that led to over 500 cancelled surgeries and thousands of cancelled appointments at Capital Health last month. The NSNU’s 6,500 nurses are going into negotiations now.

The NDP government also refused to pass any of the five PC bills that tackle higher power rates. Instead the Premier is moving forward with the expensive Muskrat Falls project without knowing how much it will cost ratepayers. The deal was apparently sealed with Emera executives on their corporate jet and there is mysteriously no paper trail available for Nova Scotians to learn how much they will be expected to pay for the deal or how the deal came together, in spite of repeated questions and FOIPOPs.

The NDP passed weak legislation on bullying that is very narrow in focus and ineffective in addressing a problem that has caused great harm to too many Nova Scotia children and their families.

“The NDP have let down Nova Scotians on power rates, heathcare shutdowns and bullying,” said Baillie. “The NDP should not have ended the House session without addressing these important matters.”

Baillie noted the NDP began the session by presenting their fourth consecutive deficit budget and announcing a $260 million forgivable loan to Irving Shipbuilding, with no details yet provided to Nova Scotians.

The NDP failed to pass legislation that would give grandparents’ consideration in custody arrangements, but did pass a law that allows them to push government propaganda messages to Nova Scotians’ cell phones.

The PC’s also demanded the resignation of the NDP’s Community Services Minister for her mishandling of confidential information regarding Talbot House and failing to warn a daycare of an alleged child abuser in their employ. The Premier stood by his incompetent Minister.

Government should not do budgeting this way

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Premier Darrell Dexter’s admission yesterday that he does not intend to implement the “intolerable” measures outlined by school boards confirms that he is playing the old-style political game of budget negotiation, said Progressive Conservative Party Leader Jamie Baillie.

Yesterday, Premier Dexter lashed out at school boards saying they were being irresponsible in “bringing forward these dramatic scenarios”.

“For months, our school boards have been distracted from their focus on educating our kids because of this game-playing by the Premier. No business would go about budgeting this way,” said Baillie. “Mismanagement of the education system eventually shows up in our economy. The Premier should be perfectly clear about his intentions – that is the responsible way to balance the province’s budget.”

Baillie says Nova Scotians are looking for leadership on government spending, but not seeing any.
“The Premier should start by giving school boards the real numbers, and then work with them on a practical implementation,” suggested Baillie.

Baillie and Progressive Conservative Education Critic, Argyle MLA Chris d’Entremont, will meet with school board officials over the next few weeks to identify practical ways to address budget issues.
Baillie says the Premier’s avoidance of difficult decisions has created a pattern of mismanagement on reducing the province’s spending.

The latest fiscal update shows departmental spending is up over $300 million over the previous year. Baillie says mismanagement on spending by the NDP government serves only to allow Nova Scotia’s debt, and debt servicing costs, to grow. He has called on the NDP to balance the province’s budget ahead of their self-imposed 2013-14 deadline.