Nova Scotia’s Liberal government isn’t thinking about the children.

That is what many little ones and junior/high school students were left thinking after Education Minister Karen Casey announced Dec. 3 that students would be locked out while teachers were asked to report to work as usual.

Teachers began work-to-rule on Dec. 5 as part of their current labour strife with the provincial government in their charge to see working conditions in the classroom improved. Instead, the government has decided to lock out the students for their “safety” as teachers would not be able to ensure that as it is outside what they could do during the work-to-rule.

But that’s bull. No teacher would allow the safety and security of the students they care deeply about be affected.

In fact some teachers I know have said plans had already been discussed and planned for how they would ensure the students safety when school returned on Monday Dec. 5.

But that was all for naught as Casey held a Saturday morning presser where she made her announcement that has riled up a lot of parents and Nova Scotians. The government is making students pawns in their fight with the NS Teachers Union. It’s a childish move.

If there was anyone who I thought would understand the issues facing teachers in the classroom, I would have thought a former teacher like Karen Casey would. But I guess not.

There are some who agree with the government, and I guess those people are fine with their children being in classrooms with 10 textbooks for 35 students; five or six different learning levels; students with learning disabilities that need extra attention from the teachers, who sadly because there’s no EPAs hired for said classroom(s) doesn’t get the education they deserve.

It is not at all about money for teachers—but investment in the children; their classrooms. Is that too much to ask for? They are the future of this province, which is beginning to look more and more like it may not have one the way the government is making cold-hearted decisions such as this.

It’s mind-boggling to see how the current government is making it seemingly easy for the Opposition— whether it is Gary Burrill and the NDP or Jamie Baillie’s Tories—to replace them in the next election, expected to come as early as April or May 2017.

It’s sad that the government made it come to this and recalled the N.S. Legislature to pass legislation aimed at forcing a contract—a contract the teachers soundly rejected in October, which led us to where we are. Both Baillie and Burrill have said they will oppose the legislation as much as they can.

It never even got to that as Casey announced schools were safe and the legislation would not be tabled—for now. And just like that the emergency sitting of the legislature was done.

This would be a good time for Liberal MLAs to show who they really stand for—with their constituents who voted them in to represent them, or toe the party line knowing this will likely leave a black mark on them when voting time comes.

At the student walkout I covered at Lockview High on Dec. 2, one little chant the students said as the cars went by honking in support stands out that this government needs to take to heart. The students simply said “Negotiate, don’t dictate.”

With their recent actions, it would appear the McNeil Liberal government are slowly digging their own grave. And it seems they can’t dig fast enough.

– Pat Healey