Anatomy of a Bill: A Play in One Act

The Nova Scotia New Democratic Party made a freedom of information application to the Nova Scotia government last December requesting:

All communication (including emails, letter and other electronic messages) briefing notes and other documents related to An Act Respecting a Teacher’s [sic] Professional Agreement.

The request referred to legislation that Education Minister Karen Casey had intended to present on Monday, December 5, forcing a contract on the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union. (I probably don’t have to recap this, but just in case: the legislation was not introduced that Monday, but on Valentine’s Day and was passed on Tuesday, February 21).

In January 2017, the NDP received  a response to its FOIPOP request and, suffice to say, most of it looked like this:

redacted email


Another 202 pages were withheld completely.

Public Service Commissioner Laura Lee Langley said the applicant was entitled to “part of the records requested,” but that they had “removed some of the information” on the grounds that it was “advice by or for a public body or minister” or subject to “Solicitor-client privilege.”

What remained, when the censor’s busy little hands were done, were a few lines from emails I feel are best presented in the form of an absurdist one-act play. (Vaclav Havel would understand.) And so, ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Comedy and Tragedy masks (<a href="">Image source:</a>)

Anatomy of a Bill or ‘Hi Everyone’

Dramatis Personae

Michelle R Lucas: Communications director

Sandra A MacKenzie: Deputy Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development

Bernie F Miller: Senior executive adviser to Premier Stephen McNeil

Rollie B King: Executive director public sector labor relations

Angela Kidney: Director school board relations

Ryan D Grant (non-speaking role): Chief of staff

Karen Casey (non-speaking role): Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development

S. (Stephen) Moore (non-speaking role): Director of communications for Premier Stephen McNeil

The scene: Our characters are wandering about a darkened stage, typing furiously into their Blackberry 10s. In the distance, the faint sound of protesting school teachers.


Michelle R Lucas: Hi Everyone

Sandra A McKenzie: Thanks Bernie. Melissa, will you make that change?

Michelle R Lucas: I will.

Michelle R Lucas: Hi Everyone…so my apologies for the lateness of this package. I’ll continue to watch for feedback and incorporate through evening. After your review, I’d be happy to seek ministerial approval. I’ll give her a heads up right now and let her know where things stand.

Bernie F Miller: Thanks.

Michelle R Lucas: Ryan, Here is the latest package for the minister’s review and approval. Happy to continue watching email to incorporate changes. Sandra, Just to let you know, I’m talking with S Moore about plans for prep meeting with the minister and Rollie in the AM.

Sandra A McKenzie: Ok. Thanks. I will be on stand by if needed.

Michelle R Lucas: Of course you’d be invited…Hi Everyone.

Sandra A McKenzie: Sorry. I should have caught that.

Michelle R. Lucas: Hi Everyone.

Sandra A McKenzie: Thanks Michelle

Michelle R. Lucas: Haha. I have no doubt :).

Bernie F Miller: Michelle.

Rollie B King: The Minister is on a call now. I will follow up when she is done.

Angela Kidney: I would suggest adding…

Michelle R Lucas: Angela, I need to understand these two things…

Bernie F Miller: Michelle.

Michelle R Lucas: Yes…Easy. Thanks. All else ok?

Rollie B King: Yes.

Michelle R Lucas: Has direction been given re: who to introduce? I assume Casey.

Rollie B King: Yes. Minister Casey. I am available for Bill briefing Monday.



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