CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Opposition MLA Brad Trivers accused the Liberal government Friday of announcing the new Sherwood School as a way to “buy votes” in Monday’s byelection.
During question period Friday, Trivers asked when the school would actually be complete and open to students.
“Ultimately we would expects to see students in that school in 2021,” Education Minister Jordan Brown replied.
But Trivers cried foul, saying when the school was announced as part of the capital budget last week, government made it sound as though the school would be ready in 2019.
Brown disagreed with this, noting work on a project as large as a school takes time.
Trivers questioned why the school was included in the capital budget speech at all last week, considering it will be not be completed for several years.
He pointed to the District 11 byelection as the reason.
“The minister of transportation, the minister of finance, the premier and indeed this whole Liberal government is trying to buy votes in the District 11 Charlottetown-Parkdale byelection by announcing a project that won’t start for three years and won’t be completed for at least five years,” Trivers said.
“By the time the new school is completed, most of the current students will have graduated.”
Brown defended the decision to announce the project last week and the time it will take to make the new school a reality.
“Sherwood School, we’re moving very aggressively into the planning process for that and we are starting that right away. It takes time to get these things right. And that’s something that the Opposition needs to reflect upon.”
Opposition Leader James Aylward also called into question government’s announcement two weeks ago that it will hire 41 teachers to teach English as an additional language (EAL).
He too suggested this was simply a good news announcement made to influence the results of the byelection.
To emphasize his point, Aylward pushed Brown to disclose whether these positions were permanent. Brown did not directly address the question.
The Guardian confirmed with the P.E.I. Teacher’s Federation the postings that have gone out so far for these positions are fixed-term positions, which are not permanent positions. By contrast, the 27 teaching positions announced in early June were permanent postings.
“I think that all Islanders can see through this announcement and what it was really about and what it was really about,” Aylward said Friday in the legislature.
“It was made in haste during a byelection in District 11.”