Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle

Antigonish NDP MLA Maurice Smith had his first important piece of legislation, as Transportation Minister, debated this week. The Inter-city Bus Service Act will make sure students and seniors have a sustainable replacement to Acadian Lines. Towns across Nova Scotia will benefit enormously from this bill.

Halifax Needham NDP MLA Maureen MacDonald also had her first important piece of legislation debated this week under her new role as Finance Minister. The Importation of Wine for Personal Use Act will please Nova Scotia wineries, allowing tourists to bring purchased wine home across provincial boudaries, and let vineyards like Benjamin Bridge, L’Acadie Vineyards, and Domaine de Grand Pré create wine clubs to ship to new customers.

While Maurice Smith, a legal aid lawyer, is not questioned about whether he has the experience necessary to be the Minister of Roads, Maureen MacDonald, a social worker, sees more than her fair share of heckling from the Liberal opposition.

Maureen MacDonald proved herself to be one of the greatest health ministers that Nova Scotia has ever seen. Her work in that department is proof enough that she can handle the move to Finance.

After a dust-up two weeks ago over a perceived slight of social workers that resulted in MacDonald asking Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil for an apology, we asked our readers to write in with their thoughts on whether Maureen MacDonald is qualified to be Finance Minister. Here are three readers’ responses.

A Liberal supporter wrote in, suggesting Question Period insults are just part of the game.

Heckling is no big deal. I listened to the tape, and you can hear a half dozen Liberals shouting, but can’t make out what they’re saying at all. Their microphones are off. All I could make out was “you’re a social worker.” No biggie. I’m not saying Maureen is lying about what was said, just that heckling is no big deal. All in the game yo, all in the game.

My preference would be a Finance Minister with an M.B.A. That would be a better fit.

One of Canada’s finest Finance Ministers, Manitoba’s now-Premier Greg Selinger, excelled in the finance portfolio as the NDP turned that province’s economy around. Selinger has a degree in social work from the University of Manitoba.

A few social workers wrote in as well. We will print just one of these letters, with apologies to the many other responses writing in.

This is typical male chauvinism. Social workers, nurses, teachers… professions that are female-dominated are often not taken seriously. The idea that Stephen McNeil, whose experience is as an appliance repairman, can be taken seriously as a potential Premier, but Maureen MacDonald gets shouted down – it’s gross.

We do not know if sexism is at play here. We believe that Maureen MacDonald has proven to be up for the task. The challenge for Stephen McNeil will be to show Nova Scotians he is qualified to run a whole province.

And to round things out, here is a letter from one of our less partisan Conservative readers:

Is Maureen MacDonald qualified, as a social worker, to be Finance Minister? Of course. Attacking her is a rookie mistake by the Liberals. Not everyone would be up to that job, but it’s about your leadership experience – not your employment avenue. There are a few MLAs from each party that could conceivably be Finance Minister. Fewer still could be Premier. Other than Dexter, MacDonald is probably the only other NDP MLA who could lead the whole province. Stephen McNeil isn’t even the Liberal’s strongest MLA.

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