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Maureen MacDonald (Halifax Needham)

NDP Education Critic

June 30, 2000


Halifax - NDP Education Critic Maureen MacDonald says it's unbelievable that former Tory Cabinet Minister Leroy Legere has been appointed without competition to head up the Southwest Regional School Board.

"Leroy Legere was Minister of Labour when the Westray Mine blew up," says MacDonald. "The public inquiry showed his department was in a shambles. This CEO position is one of enormous responsibility and power that requires someone who is outstanding. Leroy Legere was practically run out of office because of the incompetence he demonstrated over Westray."

Legere was Minister of Labour from February 1991 to November 1992. In his report on the Westray Mine Disaster, Justice Peter Richard said that Legere "appeared to have a confused and uncertain appreciation of his role as a minister of the crown", that he had "little understanding of the operation of the Occupational Health and Safety Division of the Department of Labour" and that it was incumbent on Legere "to keep informed and to ensure that adequate remedial action was taken" once he was informed of deficiencies in his department things Legere failed to do. (All quotations taken from Vol. 2, pp. 529-530, of the inquiry report.)

"When the Southwest Regional School Board was being restructured in the last sitting of the House, we proposed an amendment that would have required an open, merit- based competition for the CEO," said the NDP MLA. "Now we know why Jane Purves and John Hamm refused to accept our amendment. They must have had Leroy Legere in mind all along. A six-figure salary handed to a disgraced Tory Cabinet Minister, without any competition. And that's after they hire a former Tory leader from New Brunswick as Deputy Minister. Don't these people have any shame?"

The Southwest Regional School Board has over 18,500 students and covers Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne, Queens and Lunenburg counties. Under amendments to the Education Act passed in the last sitting of the legislature, the CEO is no longer accountable to an elected school board. The CEO now reports directly to the Deputy Minister of Education.

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