Monday was the first day of the fall session of the House of Assembly. No doubt, it is the first day for catcalls, shouted insults and the general belittlement that is a regular feature of our legislature.
Monday was also an opportune day for this provincial government news release: “The provincial government is planning to strengthen the way the education system reports, and responds to, incidents of bullying and aggressive behaviours among students and is providing opportunities for input and feedback through a consultative process which begins this week.
“‘Earlier this year, our government committed to consulting with groups and individuals who have insight and expertise into issues around bullying to discuss potential changes to policies, protocols, and legislation,’ said the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Education. ‘Those consultations are set to begin this week, with a focus group session to be held with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils on Friday, November 23. It will be followed next week with sessions in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City for Labrador School District personnel, principals, teachers, school council chairs and parent representatives, as well as intermediate and high school students.’
“‘As a government, we place significant emphasis on acquiring input directly from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,’ said the Honourable Keith Hutchings, Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development and Minister Responsible for the Office of Public Engagement. ‘We believe that through focused dialogue with key audiences, and utilizing online resources to reach as many people as possible, we can better develop programs and policies which have an impact on all segments of our society.’
“‘With an issue like this, with such widespread implications, we are determined to hear from as many people as possible — especially students and parents, who are most affected by bullying, harassment and intimidation,’ said Minister Jackman. ‘For that reason, we are posting consultation materials online and encouraging all interested groups, agencies, and individuals to offer their comments and suggestions.’
“‘Violence, harassment and intimidation have no place in our schools, or in our society,’ Minister Jackman said.”
Well said, Minister Jackman — now, let’s see if you and Minister Hutchings can prevail not only on those in schools, but upon the members of your own caucus, the couple of handfuls of members of the House of Assembly who often seem to be honourable in name only. By all means, harassment and intimidation have no place in our schools or in our society — and that society, of course, includes the House itself.
Why not commit to halting name-calling, bullying, harassment and intimidation in a portion of society as small as the membership of the House, if for no other reason than to set a good example for the scores of school-aged children who sit through House sessions every year?
If you can’t manage it yourselves, how do you ever expect to move your “consultative process” forward in the world at large?