NDP leader addresses election issues in Nanaimo
Education and train service were among topics broached by B.C. NDP leader John Horgan at an open house in Nanaimo Thursday night.
Horgan addressed issues raised by the partisan crowd assembled at the Coast Bastion Hotel, including education.
He said Premier Christy Clark was education minister in 2002 when legislation was passed stripping class size and composition language and with a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling restoring language.
Horgan said it isn’t just class size and composition that has been the challenge. It has been a lack of specialist teachers and that’s where the B.C. Liberals have “really failed” children. There is a diversity of languages in B.C. and Horgan said there needs to be resources in classrooms so immigrant children can be full participants.
Cutting English-as-a-second language programs “is the other travesty” by the B.C. Liberals, Horgan said.
“There’s a whole bunch of tools that we can give people that are really low cost, but when it comes to class size and class composition, counsellors, specialist teachers, teachers’ aides, teacher-librarians, all of that makes for a dynamic classroom and it assists children get through what is a struggle … there are not enough resources to catch kids as they’re coming through and we need to fix that,” said Horgan.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced last week that the government would examine E&N rail line service between Victoria and Langford, but Horgan pointed to an Island rail service announcement four years ago and that there still isn’t service.
“We‘re going to have some of the best Scotch broom bloom on that railway that we’ve ever seen,” said Horgan. “That’s what the B.C. Liberals are doing for rail transportation on Vancouver Island … the deterioration of the track is at a state where it will take a significant investment to get us back to where we were four years ago, much less where we need to be four years from now.
“If we are going to address the challenge of our time, climate change, we have to use technologies to move people around that drive down emissions.”
Doug Routely, B.C. NDP Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA, said the party is committed to returning service and increasing service from what it was before, but it would have to happen step-by-step.
The B.C. general election is expected to take place May 9.