Opposition MLAs want PEITF president to resign

Ryan Ross
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Gilles Arsenault

With the president of the P.E.I. Teachers’ Federation announcing his plans to seek a federal Liberal nomination, opposition education critic James Aylward thinks he should resign.

Aylward raised the issue during an education and innovation committee meeting Tuesday where he said in recent years the federation has been quiet about education cuts.

“I’d say now we know why.”

PEITF president Gilles Arsenault recently announced his plan to seek the Liberal nomination in the federal riding of Egmont for the election scheduled for fall 2015.

The Liberals will likely pick a candidate in November.

Arsenault has been the PEITF president since 2011.

There was nothing on the committee meeting agenda other than considering its work plan and as part of it Aylward asked the MLAs to pass a motion calling for Arsenault to resign as president.

The majority Liberals and independent MLA Olive Crane voted against the motion.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Arsenault said he plans to leave his position as president if he wins the nomination.

He also said he can continue to represent teachers while seeking the nomination and pointed to a rally in Charlottetown during which he was critical of the provincial government.

In May the PEITF board of governors changed its bylaws to require anyone who is nominated to run in a federal election to take a leave of absence.

Prior to the change that same person would have had to take a leave once they made public their intention to seek the nomination.

Arsenault proposed the amendment and Aylward said that put him in a conflict of interest.

“Essentially he broke that out for his own self-serving ambitions, I feel, so he could seek that nomination.”

Opposition Leader Steven Myers agreed with Aylward and said the Conservative MLAs weren’t asking the committee to make the decision to remove Arsenault from his position, but rather to support his resignation.

“Is it fair to the children of this province to put politics ahead of education?”

The Liberal MLAs on the committee shot down the motion with several questioning whether they should get involved in how an outside organization is run.

Charlottetown-Lewis Point MLA Kathleen Casey was one of them.

“Do we want to meddle with another organization’s policies?”

Charlottetown-Sherwood MLA Robert Mitchell agreed, saying the opposition can ask Arsenault to step down, but he doesn’t think the committee has a right to ask for anybody’s resignation if they are appointed or supported by a board of directors.

“It’s a slippery slope if you’re going to start being a dictator as a committee.”

Crane said she didn’t support the motion because she felt that getting into a power struggle with another organization wouldn’t help children, their parents or teachers.

“I really believe it’s up to the teachers’ federation.”




Organizations: Conservative MLAs, P.E.I. Teachers, PEITF board

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Observer from the East
    June 11, 2014 - 12:17

    So what we are saying here is that if anybody decides to run for public office, they should resign their job? I know he's the head of the PEITF, but he has every right to run for public office like anybody else. That doesn't sound like a good idea for democracy. Would the reaction here be as intense if he was planning to run for the Tories? Hmmm......

  • voter
    June 11, 2014 - 10:09

    the telling thing in all of this is that he is scared of government !!and is spreading fear ----he tells teachers to be quiet or the ghiz guys will get them --sounds like he has a good understanding of how the ghiz group works---------he says "come to the meeting but shut your mouth because i am scared of retaliation from the ghiz government!!!!"----what kind of people would support this guy ????????-----except young people who have a teaching position and rightfully are scared for their jobs!!!! -------------spreading fear !!!!!for sure

  • LookingForConsistency
    June 11, 2014 - 07:04

    According to Mr. Myers logic. He should have resigned as a public servant prior to the last election. Has he relinquished his claim to that job since he was elected in 2011?

  • Proud member
    June 10, 2014 - 20:28

    This is entertaining. My coworkers were discussing that Gilles has been the most vocal opponent to the Govt since the 7.5, and you commenters are trying to say he has been too quiet! Maybe you should join James and start reading the news a tiny bit before commenting. The harperiets are in full bloom. A high profile very capable candidate is coming to take your cushy jobs away. Look out. I am glad one of our own is heading to Ottawa to straighten things out. Your comments are hilarious and anyone in the know, knows that. Next you will be trying to convince us that he isn't bald. LOL. P.S. Read the paper once in a while or ask a teacher.

  • unbelievable
    June 10, 2014 - 18:30

    Anyone with even a small sense of fairness would know that this is a conflict, he is president of the association, he proposes changes to serve his own ambition and now he says he won't take a leave. Is it any wonder that especially young people are cynical when it comes to politics, people like this sure give it a bad name.

  • Dismayed
    June 10, 2014 - 17:26

    Gilles is already showing his true colors to Islanders. He knew that his secret plan to run for the Liberals was against the rules so he quietly had the rules changed. He knows that he needs the Liberal MLAs and volunteers on his side so he won't criticize the Ghiz government for creating a crisis in education. He's helping them keep their secret school closure plan hidden from the public. He's giving Alan McIsaac a free ride despite the Minister's incompetency. And he actually tried to muzzle teachers to stop them from defending their own jobs, the schools, and the students. This guy is putting his own political ambitions ahead of the teachers and ahead of the education system. What a joke.

    • Great comments!!!
      June 10, 2014 - 19:46

      Right on!! I am surprised that the PEITF has not reacted and caught on to this self serving action by this little man.

  • billy
    June 10, 2014 - 16:41

    Dear lord I ask you.........PLEASE get other people to run for the party that are less patronizing.......

  • A true Liberal!
    June 10, 2014 - 15:58

    Gilles Arsenault is a true Liberal! He was planning to seek the nomination in Egmont, and he proposed the amendment in May, just one month ago!! He did this; knowing full well, that he could could continue to draw his 5 figure salary until the nomination meeting in November! A true deceitful gesture by a true Liberal!

  • Garth Staples
    June 10, 2014 - 15:38

    Does PEITF (union) have a rule that defeated candidates can't return to their positions? If so then no fear. He won't be allowed to do so!

    • voter
      June 10, 2014 - 17:22

      That would make it "PEITU"-duh~!!!!

  • reality
    June 10, 2014 - 14:11

    WITH HIS FEAR OF THE gHIZ GOVERNMENT AND HIS PLANS TO RUN AS A LIBERAL -- SOUNDS LIKE HE HAS A PRETTY GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF POLITICS -he certainly is spreading fear through his membership -he will certainly have no trouble with political life and tending to the commoners