Update on Liberal Party's Unpopular Essential Services Bill

NDP pressure Liberal government to respect democratic rights of Nova Scotians (Halifax, NS)Like many of you, the NDP Caucus is shocked and disappointed in the McNeil Liberal Government for introducing the heavy-handed essential services legislation, Bill #37, which essentially takes away the right to strike for nearly 40,000 hard-working Nova Scotians.

NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald says she is pleased the NDP Caucus was able to pressure the Liberal government to respect the democratic right of Nova Scotians during a law amendments committee meeting that met all through the night last night April 1st and finished up at 4am today April 2nd.

"These hardworking Nova Scotians are upset about Stephen McNeil taking away their collective bargaining rights. Instead of listening to the people who elected him, the Premier sent in his deputy to shut them down.  At best it was disrespectful, at worst it is undemocratic."

Liberal committee members introduced a motion to cut off witnesses appearing before the law amendments committee to speak on Bill 37. The proposed cut off time was 11:30 pm. There were still upwards of 80 people scheduled to appear. The Liberals also made a motion that would have prevented committee members from making amendments to Bill 37.

"The Nova Scotia Legislature is supposed to belong to the people, but under the Liberals it just belongs to Stephen McNeil," said MacDonald.

"First he didn't consult Nova Scotians on his essential services bill then he tried to take away their right to share their concerns with the Legislature. We weren't about to let that happen."

After pressure by NDP Caucus members the Liberals retracted their motion and put forward a new motion to allow witnesses to continue to testify until 1:00 pm Wednesday. The Liberals also withdrew their request that committee members not be allowed to amend the bill.

MacDonald said if the Liberals believed their own rhetoric on Bill 37 they would have introduced this Legislation last week before the Liberal AGM.

The Liberals had the chance to negotiate with the nurses in Capital Health, but almost from the beginning, McNeil botched the negotiations by weighing in and threatening nurses with taking away their licenses if they dared to strike. When that didn't work Liberals introduced anti-labour legislation that targets not only nurses but the entire healthcare sector, along with community services employees, ouch as group home and residential care workers.

"The Liberals didn't want their mishandling of negotiations to spill over into their AGM last week and this week they're worried about the impact on their first budget address," said MacDonald.

"Ultimately the Premier has placed public relations ahead of the nurses' concerns and the democratic right of all Nova Scotians wishing to speak on this Bill."

The NDP Caucus DOES NOT support this bill in any way. We will stand by the public health sector workers and fight for the rights of all workers from Yarmouth to Sydney. While a Liberal majority can push the bill through, the NDP will continue to do everything possible to make them listen to reason.

Make no mistake, together we will always fight the good fight for what's fair and just.

Lenore Zann,
MLA Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River
35 Commercial Street,
Suite 212
Truro, Nova Scotia
B2N 3H9