The Rudeness of Austerity

November 21, 2016


The recently-concluded fall legislative session provided a great clarity of contrast between the McNeil Liberals and the vision we in the NDP are putting forward.

On the Liberals’ side, the session’s resonant note was one of rudeness.

Rudeness to teachers. Virtually every day in the House, and then again to reporters, the Premier repeated his well-rehearsed lines about teachers, casting aspersions on the work ethic of the profession.

Insults to nursing homes. After six months, numerous of our requests in the Legislature and a Freedom of Information application, the Liberals finally disclosed the full extent of their cuts to long-term care. They then dispatched the Deputy Minister of Health to the Public Accounts Committee, where he described the cuts as an “opportunity” for nursing homes to discover how to be more efficient.

Contempt towards First Nations. In the current Supreme Court of Nova Scotia case on the adequacy of the government’s consultation with the Sipekne’katik Band over Alton Gas, the Liberals presented this position: “The Band’s submission [to the British] in 1760 negates a claim of sovereignty, and therefore negates a constitutional duty of consultation.” Naomi Metallic, Chair of Aboriginal Law and Policy at Dalhousie, has rightly summarized this triumphalist view as “crap.”

Our Party’s legislative proposals this fall have pointed in a differing direction.

Proposals like our bill to eliminate tuition for community college students, on the grounds that it’s time for the first extension of the public education system since it was last extended, in the l890s, to include Grade 12.

Proposals like our bill to ensure the implementation of all the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action that fall within provincial jurisdiction.

Proposals like our legislation to amend the Human Rights Code to include the right to adequate food, shelter and health care. It’s a proposal worth underlining in light of Food Banks Canada’s report last week that food bank use is up 20% this year in Nova Scotia, the largest single increase of any province in the country.

The contrast couldn’t be much clearer: Nova Scotia needs to move from the rudeness of austerity to the promise of investment in our future.

In solidarity and hope,