Ron Nugent presents PC Leader Jamie Baillie with the signed petitions at the Inn on the Lake in Fall River at supper time on Feb. 20. (Healey photo)

FALL RIVER: The leader of the provincial Opposition Party is impressed with the number of residents who took the time to sign a petition asking Liberal MLA Bill Horne to vote no to his government’s Bill 75.

In a stop at Inn on the Lake in Fall River on Feb. 20, PC Leader Jamie Baillie took time to speak about the petitions as well as how Premier Stephen McNeil and Liberal MLA Bill Horne have treated the teachers of the province. Baillie was presented the dozen pages of signed petitions—with more than 700 names—by Ron Nugent, a Guidance Counsellor at G.P. Vanier Junior High who organized an afternoon protest on Feb. 20.

“I’m so impressed with the community here in Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank,” Baillie told The Laker. “Clearly, they believe investing in education is important. They’re very upset at how Stephen McNeil and Bill Horne have treated our teachers.”

He said being able to gather that many names in a less than 24 hour span shows that the dispute between the province and Nova Scotia Teachers Union is a hot button issue in the community.

“Obviously it’s a very big issue in the area, there are a number of wonderful schools here and parents see that,” he said. “They want a government that respects teachers and invests in classrooms.

“They do not have that with Stephen McNeil and Bill Horne, and that’s obvious. To put together a petition of 700 plus names in one day. That speaks volumes.”

Baillie said the message people across the province are getting is simply that the Liberals don’t care.

“What’s worse is that they have destroyed their relationships with the provinces teachers,” he said. “All those who want real classroom improvements to happen, it’s impossible for that to happen under the McNeil government.

“You need the teachers to work well with government if you’re going to make the classrooms better.”

He said what many have been thinking—whether they wanted to say it publicly or not.

“I think it’s going to take a change in government if we’re ever going to see any real classroom improvements.”

He doesn’t understand why the Liberal MLA’s were toeing the party line with regards to voting on Bill 75.

“In their hearts, they must know that it’s wrong,” said Baillie.