By Tina Comeau
Yarmouth Liberal MLA Zach Churchill stands by a tweet he recently made on Twitter in which he stated that the late Jack Layton, former federal NDP leader, would be disgusted with how the NDP are operating in Nova Scotia.
Churchill’s social media tweet came in response to another tweet about plans to mark the anniversary of Layton’s death. Layton died last Aug. 22.
Tweeted Churchill, “He would be disgusted with how the NDP are operating in Nova Scotia.” His tweet was criticized by some other Twitter users who felt it was out of line.
“Arrant nonsense…For shame sir, for shame,” tweeted one person. “Please don’t abuse his name in your partisan attacks,” tweeted another. The tweet became fodder for some online bloggers and online news outlets.
Asked for his reaction to the reaction, Churchill told the Vanguard, “The point I was making was a very real one, in that Jack Layton, as the leader of the opposition – which brought the NDP to un-thought of success nationally – represented very different values than our current premier, who is also a New Democrat, represents.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Jack Layton and working with him a few years when I was in Ottawa and I know he stood for a lot of important things and positive things, such as affordable and accessible higher education, a foundation for our young people in our public education system, supporting our health-care system and ensuring it had the funding it needed to operate, and supporting people before corporations. Those are things that Jack Layton, as a political figure, fought for,” said Churchill. “We saw in the last federal election a lot of Canadians supported that vision for the country.”
But Churchill suggests that, provincially, in Nova Scotia, it’s been a different picture.
“We have a premier that is actually doling out millions and millions of dollars to large corporations,” he said, adding the NDP government has cut tens of millions of dollars from the public education system, the post-secondary education system and the health-care system.
“Darrell Dexter, when he was in opposition, did represent a lot of things, I think, that New Democrats, federally, were pushing for. But since he’s become premier it’s a very different story and that’s the point I was trying to make with my tweet,” explains Churchill.
Still, some have criticized Churchill for presuming to know what Layton would be thinking. Asked if that’s a fair comment, Churchill said, “Absolutely, that’s a fair comment. Of course, it’s not fair of me to presume what Jack Layton would think.”
But, said Churchill, “As someone who has been involved in politics for some time now…I can see a stark difference between what Jack Layton represented and what Darrell Dexter…is doing. That’s the point I was trying to make in my tweet.”
A tweet, he admitted, that was “pretty spontaneous.”
In addition to saying Layton would be disgusted with how the Nova Scotia NDP are operating, Churchill said in the same tweet that Premier Darrell Dexter makes Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper “look like a saint.”