More news, less faux psychodrama in legislature reporting, please

I don’t mean to be overly cranky with my former colleagues in the political journalism racket, but I could do with a little less psychoanalysis and a little more content in reports from the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.

CBC legislature reporter Jean Laroche’s weekly debrief this morning  was long on the former and light on the latter.

Premier Dexter, he explained, normally doesn’t have a short fuse, but the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board’s threat to decimate library staff caused him to blow his stack. The debate, opined Laroche, had an unusual, intensely personal character.

Really? None of the clips Laroche played showed anything like that. In them, the premier calmly, if wearily, pointed out that the board’s empty threat was the oldest, tiredest arrow in the school board’s threadbare quiver, a tactic described here months ago as “Kill the Friendly Giant.” Laroche himself must have seen it play out 50 times, as have the opposition leaders who cynically played along.

After a decade in which school enrolment dropped by 30,000 students, while school board budgets marched briskly upward, the government has rightly ordered modest restraint in the coming year. The Chignecto board responded by announcing that a popular program with a vocal constituency will be eliminated as the only possible means of coping with “massive cutbacks imposed by the province.”


The real news in the exchange was the premier’s sharp (and long overdue) criticism of the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union for its obdurate defence of the status quo in a system undergoing thermonuclear demographic implosion. Dexter thinks a progressive union should be an enthusiastic partner in the search for better ways to operate a system that hasn’t changed much in 100 years.

Laroche helpfully explained that this is entirely untrue, that teachers embrace change every year by adjusting to annual tweaks in mandated curricula. Do tell.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the premier and his education minister will consider two cost-free proposals for injecting a spirit of innovation into the system.