Minister of Education Bronwyn Eyre Under Fire (aka “Don Morgan, I Miss You!”) #skpoli

When an Education Minister cuts funding so significantly that it puts the entire, century-in-the-making public library system at risk of shutting down completely, it’s not surprising that I’m not going to be a fan.

Luckily, thousands of other people across the province felt the same way, then-Education Minister, Don Morgan, admitted his mistake and public library funding was restored about a month after being cut in last spring’s Provincial Budget.

Well, I never thought I’d say it but I really miss Education Minister Don Morgan right about now!

Because no matter how I felt about his decision on library funding, he always seemed like an intelligent, reasonable person and he gave the impression that many of his views on libraries weren’t necessarily coming from a place of malice but instead, (an unfortunately not uncommon) misunderstanding about the role of the modern public library in the 21st Century.

In September, Don Morgan was replaced by Bronwyn Eyre as Education Minister, an interesting choice for person with ultimate responsibility for how we educate our province’s children to say the least…

This whole situation is giving me deja vu to Minister’s Morgan’s library cuts as a quickly growing Facebook group sprang up, bloggers were posting concerns about her understanding of the topic, and journalists were pointing out that her comments were based on mistaken assumptions.

Minister Morgan was invited to visit libraries to learn more about what they do and it’s been pointed out that Minister Eyre’s concerns would probably be better clarified in a one-on-one parent-teacher interview than in a speech on the floor of the Legislature, especially since other student’s accounts of the lesson don’t reflect what Minister Eyre claims her son heard.

There’s even a parallel that the SaskParty (or at least Minister Eyre) appears to be trying to fundamentally change something they implemented in the first place, just as they did by cutting library funding after initially funding our province-wide system.

Minister Eyre is facing a lot of heat for her most recent comments about Treaty Education, and, in the midst of a campaign by the Sask Teachers Federation to encourage their members to become more involved by buying memberships in either the Sask Party or the Sask NDP who are having concurrent Leadership races, you wonder if she’s seen as a bit of an anchor for the five Sask Party contestants who are trying to walk the fine line between supporting a colleague (and, more importantly, the Premier who appointed her?) but distancing themselves from her ill-informed comments?

There are also potential implications in the Sask NDP leadership race.

Ryan Meili made the very astute point that her comments actually are the best evidence of the need for Treaty Education and decisively called for her resignation during a morning debate at the Saskatoon Teachers Association conference last Friday.

Trent Wotherspoon then followed Meili’s lead by also calling for Minister Eyre’s resignation later that same day.  Wotherspoon also echoed Meili’s earlier point that leaving Eyre in place reflects poorly on the Premier.

How this will all shake out remains to be seen.

But it is more evidence of the Sask Party going off the rails in so many ways – scandals and deception and even a creeping “Trumping” of our government and politicians.

With a resurgent NDP currently picking a new Leader who could become Premier in 2020 and the Sask Party leadership race underway with the winner immediately becoming Premier, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

With her comments, I’m not sure Minister Eyre realises that. But I suspect those running to be Leader of the Sask Party do.

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