Leo Glavine: Mis-speaking oneself while saying the same thing

On Thursday, in the warm afterglow of a Throne speech that zeroed in on “unsustainable [public sector] wage increases” and promised a “hiring slow down and steps to achieve a more sustainable wage pattern,” Health Minister Leo Glavine was clear as glass.


Stephen McNeil

Premier Stephen McNeil’s government had had it up to here with recalcitrant health care unions. The unions had come up with a proposal  for a collective bargaining process for the newly merged, streamlined, one-size-fits-all provincial health authority, and the government had flatly rejected it. The time for talk was past before it began.

“We will identify who will represent nurses, who will represent technologists, clerical and administration,” Glavine told reporters precisely.

Legislation would be introduced during tonight’s legislature session.

Less that 24 hours later — in the aftermath of the first cold bath of what promised to be many protests at Province House — Glavine was back at the microphone.

He had, he now said, misspoke himself. What he meant to say, he said instead, was he would introduce legislation to reduce the number of contracts from 50 down to four. The legislation would lay out a process to get to that point, leaving it up to a mediator to determine which unions get to represent which workers for which contracts.

Un-obfuscated… the workers may still not get to choose which union will represent them but the government is now doing its PR best not to be the one to say so.

The government’s goal hasn’t really changed. Despite McNeil’s assurance he is “not at all going to war with organized labour,” he wants to de-claw the Nova Scotia Government Employees’ Union and undermine its president, Joan Jessome. What better way than to shuffle the 3,500 metro nurses and licensed practical nurses currently represented by the NSGEU — more than 10 per cent of its membership — off to the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union?

Watch for it.

We’ll also see soon enough if the government’s eagerness to confront in the name of fiscal responsibility extends to the group that accounts for the single largest health care cost — the $800 million a year we spend on doctors’ services. The province’s contract with Doctors Nova Scotia expires in March 2015.

Hold your breath.


  1. I can’t be the only Nova Scotian taxpayer who thinks (a) that nurses should be represented by a Nurse’s Union and not a union that represents employees who have little in common with nurses, and (b) that the NSGEU’s strong objection to the government’s action is a case of turf protection. Losing the nurses would be blow to the NSGEU and Ms Jessome naturally doesn’t want to see her union weakened. But the partisan concerns of a union leader are not the basis for good public policy.


  2. Not every nurse in the NSGEU works in Metro. Some of us work in other DHA’s outside of Halifax.


  3. You hit the nail right on the head! I am absolutely outraged at the Liberal government, as well as the employer, for their recent treatment of NSGEU nurses. The looming nursing shortage is destined to become that more severe, thanks to their bullying tactics. Get ready, Nova Scotia. You are about to witness a swift exodus of nurses from this province. Shame on the Liberals!


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