Looking Back, Looking Forward
June 6, 2016
The Spring 2016 session of the Nova Scotia Legislature came to a close the week before last, May 20. As we wrap up this chapter and move into the next, I want to offer a few reflections.
First, we began this session amid changes in the face of our NDP caucus. The retirement of Maureen MacDonald and the health leave of Denise Peterson-Rafuse were acutely felt by all in our Party and caucus, and at the same time, we have been grateful for the strong continuing presence of our four in-House MLAs: Sterling Belliveau, Marian Mancini, Dave Wilson, and Lenore Zann. I’ve found myself referring to them sometimes as the “Fightin’ Four,” and fighters they certainly have been.
Second, we continued through this session to sharpen our identity as a Party committed to social, economic and environmental justice. We introduced bills on a $15 Minimum Wage and an Environmental Bill of Rights, among others. While not passed by the Liberal majority government, these bills brought much-needed focus to the crises of income inequality and climate change.
Third, we held the McNeil government accountable to the people of this province. We pressed them to ban the buying and selling of blood plasma. We urged them to help resolve the Chronicle Herald strike. We sought answers on emergency room closures, health care wait times, and hospital infrastructure underspending. We asked questions about the government’s withdrawal of support for the Bloomfield affordable housing project. We called on them to defend decisions impacting cultural sector workers, students, seniors, women, Indigenous people, African Nova Scotians, and families with children.
These achievements would not have been realized without the hard work of both our tenacious MLAs, and that of our dedicated caucus and Party staff. We also owe gratitude to the groups and individuals with whom we consulted on policy issues, and to NDP members across the province who communicated their concerns and ideas to us throughout the session.
As we shift now from legislative to organizing mode, I look forward to having the opportunity–along with my MLA colleagues–to continue the community-level work of building our movement for a more just and democratic Nova Scotia.
In solidarity and hope,