To build partnerships you have to participate. Education Minister Patrick Rouble would do well to remember this.
Last weekend, Rouble snubbed more than 200 teachers attending the Yukon Teachers’ Association annual general meeting in Whitehorse.
It is the first time in memory that an education minister has taken a pass on the event, and it raises questions about Rouble’s commitment to his department.
The meeting was scheduled months ago. Rouble had been invited by the association. And he was scheduled to deliver a speech to the membership.
Saturday, he was a no-show.
Too busy, he told the house, on Monday.
He did not say what business kept him from delivering his address.
“Unfortunately, my schedule did not allow me to attend this year’s meeting,” he said, vaguely.
His absence was “a little surprising” said association president Jim Tredger, noting he’s not sure why Rouble wasn’t there except that he had “other obligations.”
He can’t remember another education minister who has missed the event.
“It’s our major meeting of the year,” said Tredger. “In the spirit of partnership, we’d have liked him to be here.”
It’s not like there aren’t issues to be discussed. With graduation rates abysmally low, some schools facing staffing cuts and First Nations moving to draw down education, a statement from Rouble explaining the department’s direction might have calmed jittery staff.
It also demonstrates an interest in departing staff, and the incoming leadership. Katherine Mackwood is replacing Tredger as president this year. Tredger is stepping down after two years in charge of the organization.
Rouble’s attendance would have been beneficial, especially these days, said Tredger.
Attending the teacher’s annual conference is a sign of respect.
It allows teachers to let him know they care, and lets the minister know he cares, said Tredger.
His absence was noted by the membership, said Tredger.
In fact, members asked him to draft a letter to the government asking it to ensure the minister attends all future annual general meetings.
The letter is underway, said Tredger.
Rouble is quick to cite buzzwords, like partnership, when discussing pressing education issues.
But partnerships require attendance at important functions.
He should have been there. (Richard Mostyn)