Notley plugs politics at school opening

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A son of Alberta’s Queen of Hugs says his mom would have been proud to have her name grace the walls of St. Albert’s newest school.

Premier Rachel Notley, Education Minister David Eggen and three members of the Hole family were at Lois E. Hole Elementary School Tuesday to celebrate the opening of many new schools across Alberta.

Lois Hole Elementary opened Aug. 30 and is named after former lieutenant governor and St. Albert resident Lois Elsa Hole, who was popularly known as the Queen of Hugs.

Notley welcomed a crowd of Grade 6 students to what was their fourth day of school and noted that some 36,000 other students were also headed back to new or modernized schools across the province this week.

“There are some people who would say that we shouldn’t be building new schools,” she said.

“They would say that instead of making sure Alberta’s young people have a modern education that instead we should be cutting funding for schools and using that money, quite frankly, for tax giveaways to people who already make the most in each of our communities.

“I will be very clear with you: I do not agree with that view and nor do the people in our government.”

Notley said that her government would continue to invest in new schools and teachers to help young Albertans get the education they need to succeed in today’s world.

When asked by a reporter why she had made these politicized remarks while kids were around, Notley said it was important for people to understand the kinds of choices governments make. She said that when her government was elected, they found that many new schools like Lois Hole had been announced by the PC government but not funded. Her government accelerated funding for those schools to ensure they would be built.

“We wouldn’t necessarily be here today if we hadn’t made that decision to accelerate the capital spending,” she said.

“These buildings, these communities, the quality of education don’t happen accidentally. They happen as a result of choices, so we’re going to talk about those choices.”

St. Albert Public Schools board chair Glenys Edwards, who was at the event, said it was appropriate for Notley to make these remarks, given that it was a political event organized at the government’s request.

“From that point of view, I would say it was appropriate for them to get their political message out.”

It was also a learning opportunity for the kids, as Grade 6 students learn about local government as part of the curriculum, she added.

Edwards said the board was thrilled to have this new school ready for kids this fall.

“We are short of space, and this should help ease the pressure.”

Gardening guru Jim Hole said he was thrilled to see a school in town with his mother’s name on it. He had toured it in August, and described it as beautiful, well lit, and full of plants and living walls.

“I think it’s something Mom would be really proud of,” he said, especially since it emphasized hands-on education.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.