The Curious Case of the Orange Lunchbag on Twitter

7 weeks after blogger Parker Donham first voiced suspicion that the selection of the color orange in a bag carrying children’s books and given out in schools was a political decision, and went so far as suggesting the NDP should reimburse the taxpayers before writing his apology post stating “I was wrong”, the Nova Scotia Liberals raised the issue repeatedly in the Legislature and on Twitter.

The Curious Case of the Orange Lunchbag on Twitter:

SK_Moore: NS Liberals slams $527k in spending on orange lunch bags.

TokenGranola: Don’t you feel just a *little* queasy about going after an initiative designed to address literacy for low-income kids?

Tim_Bousquet: Not to keep pimping @kempthead but he was all over the orange bags like 3 months ago or something. Why is this news now? I thought it was bullshit first time around.

KennedyJosephin: so the NDP spend $ on lunch bags, here’s an idea buy books!!!!

HFX_Lauren: you do know their ARE books and learning tools inside that lunch bag right?

anitahovey: Ok…seriously? $500K on orange lunchbags?

Nicki_doyle: Utter nonsense. Libs obsessed with a colour not a policy.

RealDealNS: NS Liberals playing politics with children’s literacy. Those “lunchbags” could mean the only books in some low income homes.

NSLiberal: Casey: Half million for lunch bags – why not use that $ to implement task force recommendations?

RealDealNS: Seems Karen Casey thought it was a good idea when she was handing them out…

Liberal MLA Karen Casey handing out "lunchbags" when she was Conservative Education Minister. Oops.

The majority of low income families do not have a single book for their children. But in the debate on the orange lunchbags, there has been a surprising lack of conversation about what is inside the bags: books.

The single biggest barrier to the development of literacy is access to books in the home. Tackling that problem will create a generation of lifelong readers.

The books: Jack and the Missing Piece (a picture book), I Went Walking (a children’s book), and My Toys (a children’s book).

There’s also Paws and Claws (a musical CD by Halifax children’s musician Maria Alley).

The horror. The horror.

A Who’s Who in Retirement Rumours

In September we heard one of those rumours that causes heart murmurs in hacks and flacks. We heard that an opposition MLA had confided in his riding association that he would be retiring this year. The member of the executive would not go on record with us, so we did a call out to see if a second source could confirm this rumour as true. And what happened was pretty interesting. We had 30 people write in (although four IP addresses suggested duplicate accounts by the same source), all hinting and guessing at who might be retiring. But none of them sent us info on the MLA in question.

So we’re going to publish 4 excerpts from these submitted guesses. And we hope the names left out will focus our sources’ minds on the true answer.

Although we mentioned the MLA in question was a ‘he’ we received several calls for the resignation of Karen Casey. One person still has not forgiven her for crossing the floor to the Liberals, writing

She’s done. Grandma Casey won’t re-offer because people are furious at her for joining the Liberals. This [Colchester County] is not Liberal country… She betrayed us and she’s done.

Next year, perhaps, we’ll write a post about MLAs who won’t re-offer. Casey, in our opinion, won’t be on that list, unless her relationship with her leader goes sour. But we don’t get why being a grandmother is relevant. If men in their 60’s don’t have their age called into question, why bring up Casey’s age? It seemed an odd comment.

We also had people suggest Junior Theriault was the retiree. We kind of love Junior. We’d like to see him stick it out. A reader’s reason:

He’s quiet. He’s marginalized. He is as far away from the inner circle as an MLA could be, with the possible exception of Diana Whalen.

While we acknowledge Whalen seems to be on the outs, we find it hard to believe such a small circle could have an inner circle.

We had several people write in to suggest that Andrew Younger would step down to run for Mayor of Halifax. Honestly, that seems a step down to us for someone who seems to be grooming himself to take over the Liberal Party after the next election. But some think it would be a good move.

Andrew isn’t in the spotlight enough, and running for mayor would build his profile. If Stephen McNeil has a election or 2 left in him, them Mayor would be a better holding position for Andrew. He has the drive and the smarts and would be a great mayor, and then could jump back in provincially when McNeil’s through.

MLA Wayne Gaudet was suggested as the retiree, and while we don’t doubt the sincerity of our source, he is not the man who advised his executive he was calling it quits. A reader writes:

Wayne hasn’t been all that active in the Legislature since 2008. He doesn’t introduce private member bills and seems out of the loop and not all that interested. Clare is a safe Liberal seat and succession planning needs to be a priority for these kinds of seats.

The Pictou Bee has no idea what the Liberal plans for Clare are, but we don’t see Wayne Gaudet as being completely disengaged from things. Heck, the last bill Keith Colwell introduced was in 2009. At least Gaudet has a Firefighter Income Tax Credit proposal in 2011.

Readers, we just need a second source to run with our post on which opposition MLA told his executive he’s calling it quits. Help us out, for the glory of the story.