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New premier announces on first day that education reform bill, four other pieces of legislation won’t proceed

Five pieces of pending legislation, including the education reform bill known as Bill 64, will not move forward this fall, Manitoba’s new short-term premier announced on his first day in the role.
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Five pieces of pending legislation, including the education reform bill known as Bill 64, will not move forward this fall, Manitoba’s new short-term premier announced on his first day in the role.

Five pieces of pending legislation, including a controversial education reform bill that sought to do away with most elected school boards in Manitoba, will not proceed, new Premier Kelvin Goertzen said Sept. 1, during his first press conference after being sworn in.

They include education reform legislation known as Bill 64 as well as legislation to enable the province to set Manitoba Hydro rates for a five-year period and a bill that would have allowed the owners or operators of critical infrastructure like hospitals, highways, railroads and the Manitoba legislature to apply for court orders to stop or limit protests.

“I know that a new leader has to be able to set their own agenda,” interim Progressive Conservative leader Goertzen said during his first day as premier after taking over from the departing Brian Pallister, a position he is expected to hold only until the end of October. “As such, cabinet and caucus have authorized, with my full support, that those bills will not move forward this fall.”

Candidates who have stepped forward to try to become the next permanent leader of the the PCs have already said they would scrap Bill 64 if they were successful.

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society said they were proud to have played a part in stopping Bill 64 from moving ahead.

“Manitoba teachers raised their voices, and today, we along with thousands of friends who joined us along the way, achieved what many said could not be done,” MTS vice-president Nathan Martindale said in a news release Sept. 1. “What education reform will look like in Manitoba remains to be seen, but we expect to be full partners with government in these discussions.”

Education minister Cliff Cullen said at a Sept. 2 press conference that the changes to school divisions and their governance that made up part of Bill 64 became a distraction from other priorities for improving Manitoba education.

“The governance model was certainly a lightning rod, we recognize that,” he said, adding that Manitoba’s education results still don’t match how much money the provincial government spends per student.

Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), a political advocacy organization representing 26 Northern Manitoba First Nations, said he was pleased to hear that the five pieces of legislation wouldn’t move forward.

“We are particularly pleased to see the withdrawal of Bill 57 – the Protection of Critical infrastructure Act,” he said in a news release. “The withdrawal of this bill helps to ensure that as the first people of this land, we are still able to protest peacefully.”