McIsaac under fire for absences

Teresa Wright
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Myers questions whether McIsaac’s frequent absences may be linked to poor student outcomes.

Education Minister Alan McIsaac

Education Minister Alan McIsaac was under fire Friday in the legislature about the numerous times he has been out of province over the last two years.

Opposition Leader Steven Myers questioned whether McIsaac’s frequent absences may be linked to the fact P.E.I. students have scored low on international test results.

“This minister’s absenteeism is a serious matter,” Myers said.

“Islanders don’t get to be gallivanting for weeks at a time all over the world, and they’re counting on this minister to take responsibility for this system, which is constantly failing our children.”

Myers pointed to 11 times executive council has had to appoint an acting minister to temporarily assume McIsaac’s portfolio.

Legislation dictates this must be done if a minister will be out of the province for more than seven days.

That means he McIsaac been absent from the province for at least 77 days since becoming education minister.

So far this year, the minister has been away for a minimum of three weeks, Myers said.

But McIsaac said the trips were for important meetings with his provincial and federal counterparts.

And even while away, he says he remains in constant contact with his office, his deputy minister and directors.

“Some of the greatest opportunities are when you meet around the table with the ministers in the other provinces, they learn from us as they did with kindergarten and the early years system, and we learn from them as well,” McIsaac said.

“You learn so much that you bring back to the system to work on... we will continue to do that to grow and improve our education system in P.E.I."

But Myers pointed to the P.E.I.'s poor results in the 2013 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report.

P.E.I. students scored last in the country in the PISA results. The province was also repeatedly highlighted for coming in below the OECD average in all three areas of testing - math, reading and science.

“Our education system is constantly in last place and this minister is failing children in this province,” Myer said.

“I believe the minister is an absolute failure in his portfolio.”

McIsaac fired back, pointing to Myers’ political record as interim leader of the Progressive Conservative party.

He pointed to the fact Myers kicked former party leader Olive Crane out of the Opposition caucus and lost another member when Hal Perry crossed the floor.

“Since he’s taken the front bench he’s moved his party, that’s well known and recognized in this province, from a strong second position to a distant third,” McIsaac said, referencing the party’s standing in recent CRA polls.

“I don’t think I’ll be taking the lead from that person.”

Myers then accused McIsaac is passing the buck on sensitive issues to the unelected English Language School Board.

"Why can't you understand that parents expect more from you in a time of complete and absolute crisis in the system?"

McIsaac defended the P.E.I. school system, saying student-teacher ratios, the new early years and kindergarten programs and assessments have all help to improve the system for students and teachers.

Organizations: PISA, OECD, English Language School Board P.E.I. school

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Scott
    May 03, 2014 - 17:17

    Rudy, I suspect as a cabinet minister, he is required to travel a fair amount. Given that Health and education are the two biggest portfolios, it stands to reason that the minister would travel extensively. Myers continually wastes time on nothing. He should spend his time on real issues. This is not one of them Nice to see you backing you leader, but try to look beyond the partisanship.

  • rudy
    May 03, 2014 - 11:01

    hey Scot, if Meyers questions were not `legitimate` ,they would be ruled out of order by the Speaker. I think he is doing a good job, it is unfortunate that the subject of extensive travels and waste of taxpayers money has to be brought up, ethics should be expected from our elected members, - but this government needs constant watching.

  • oldest trick
    May 03, 2014 - 09:59

    Ha ha, Alan, you have no defence so you go on the attack!!!

  • don
    May 03, 2014 - 09:52

    even when he is in the house only the body is there the brain has left a long time go. and myers please sit down and let your handlers do your job as u are getting BORING.

  • voter
    May 03, 2014 - 08:44

    Why don't independent politicians like CRANE ask RELEVANT questions to test these peoples inteGRITy LIKE --Who got more PNP money - GHIZ, MYERS or ALL POLITICIANS & their groupies ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • rudy
    May 03, 2014 - 08:09

    hey Scot, if Meyers questions were not `legitimate` ,they would be ruled out of order by the Speaker. I think he is doing a good job, it is unfortunate that the subject of extensive travels and waste of taxpayers money has to be brought up, ethics should be expected from our elected members, - but this government needs constant watching.

  • Observer
    May 03, 2014 - 01:10

    McIsaac seems like he doesn't have a clue what's going on in his own department. He should resign.

  • scott
    May 02, 2014 - 19:49

    Myers is the biggest horses behind this province has ever produced as politicain. A complete disgrace. He cant run the party, has no idea how to act as oppositon. There are so many issues Myers could legitmately be asking sound questions on, and trying to improve, but he has to try and score cheap politcal points rather then doing the proper job he was elected to do. Hopefully the people in his district realize what an ineffective person they've elected to represent them, and turf his sorry behind back to the back room where he can continue to run the party into the ground.

      May 02, 2014 - 21:15

      Don't you think education is an important matter? PEI is in last place in the country and MacIssac and you want to talk about the state of the Conservative party.It's a minimum of 2 1/2 months macIssac has not been in the province in the last year. He is not our foreign ambassador, he is supposed to be looking after education in this province, not cavorting round the country having a great time. Stay home, save money and give these kids the education they need and deserve.

  • Islander
    May 02, 2014 - 19:35

    How come this stuff is brought up always at a later date and time. If the Minister was away 77 days why is this just being questioned now. Lets see what this costs us the taxpayer and explain why these trips are required. How many more are doing this and we are not hearing anything. Always remember Ministers you are all spending Islanders taxes, this is money intrusted in you to run the government in an open, transparent and accountable fashion. Lets see the figures about all MLA'S including all parties.

    • Simple
      May 03, 2014 - 15:25

      The ministers expenses are posted online. Anyone can view them.

  • knowbetter
    May 02, 2014 - 19:20

    That is just like last year i was told that the number of children in grade three french of 30 would never happen again. This year when school started i asked our little girl is there still 30 in your class? She told me no (i thought good all the pressure i put on last year did not fall on deaf ears) She said there is a new girl in the class 31. Now they have 32 children and they will not release the numbers until the last of May when the House closes. The numbers are not to be over 22 children to one teacher. Then the Government will say everything is fine just trust us.

    • Concerned
      May 03, 2014 - 07:58

      This is happening in all the schools unfortunately. When kindergarten was put into the schools we were told the ratio would stay the same at 1 teacher to 12, then it was 15, and some classes now have over 20. Since the government took over some daycares , the private have been struggling because they don't get the extra money, staff etc. And since there is a freeze on the government operated daycares no private ones can become government even though they applied. Apparently there is no demand, but all are full and most parents say there is no difference in care. The education minister and premier really need to sit down and take a good hard look at what our children are NOT getting instead of trying new programs and creating studies.

  • walter
    May 02, 2014 - 18:35

    What does Mr. Meyers political career have to do with the matter at hand? Had to get personal, did you, Mr. MacIssac, the heat in the kitchen getting too hot. Now let us find out where he went, and what it cost the taxpayers, - and what it cost the taxpayers to have him in constant contact with his office? Did the wife enjoyed the trips with him? Hang in there Meyers, get the truth out.

  • What is going on
    May 02, 2014 - 17:37

    Is this pick on the education minister week

    • red & blue hater
      May 02, 2014 - 19:30

      Myers knows that he has nothing to stand on. He has a party that has imploded and a base that has eroded away. He wouldn't get elected dog catcher of Georgetown the next time around so he's milking the big Opposition Leader salary while he can, trying to criticize without having the ability to actually bring the government to task on issues of substance. Meanwhile, the Ghiz government goes and runs roughshod over the electorate because they have the power and know that they have to do very very little in order to maintain it. It's the complacency that irks me about these 2 parties. They collectively need a big old thunder punch to the throat. Why doesn't Myers bring up the abortion access issue? Because he's a scaredy cat with bryl-cream and buck teeth, that's why. Why doesn't Myers bring up PNP? Because his party is as complicit in this immigrant head tax as is Ghiz's party. Why doesn't Myers bring up the rampant patronage in a supposedly independent civil service, which has almost 60% of its employees appointed as non-merit based (e.g. political appointments)? Because the Tories are complicit with the Liberals in polluting our civil service with incompetent idiots. Myers is not effective. And Ghiz is a powermonger. We're all screwed. I can't wait to leave PEI and its blue blood wannabe oligarchy for good