I’m very disappointed, though not surprised, that the Premier and Minister continue to offer soundbites to make things seem like one thing, when in fact, it’s another. It is deeply troubling that they misled citizens and workers, that they would refer the constitutionality question of Bill 148 to the court.
The Minister and Premier should have been clear, rather than make it sound like the entire Bill 148 would go to the court, when they knew that wasn’t the case. They both neglected to tell us that they didn’t intend to take the entire Bill before the court. Instead, we learn that they will limit the Court of Appeal references, which they know is to their political advantage, but for taxpayers, in the end, will be costlier and still will not resolve the question. It’s unfortunate that the Minister and Premier are only going to look at the wage restraint side of Bill 148 and not the entire bill, which is unfair.
The constitutionality question of both the three per cent cap on wage increases over four years, and the freezes to the long service award retroactive to April 1, 2015, which strips it from future employees, we feel is a strong constitutional case. By picking and choosing which parts of the Bill are to be included in a review by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal tells us that the Premier and Minister do not have confidence in Bill 148, like they say they do. The Minister and Premier should have been clear rather than make it sound like the entire Bill 148 would go to the court, when he and the premier knew that wasn’t the case.
Today we are calling on the Premier and each of the Liberal MLAs to stop playing mind games with the people of this province and to be upfront with them about the government’s intentions and actions. We would strongly urge both the premier and Minister Furey to do what they said, and have Bill 148 reviewed in its entirety before the court. To not do so is an injustice – they should seek the truth on Bill 148 and its constitutionality.
Governments, above all, must respect our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, something that’s been enshrined in law throughout our history in this country.