Transforming Musicians into Songwriters

Who is Premier McNeil?

A song by a music teacher from the perspective of a young elementary school student trying to understand why the Christmas Concert was cancelled… while teachers “work to rule” in Nova Scotia, December 2016, #NSTUnited #ReadyToTeach #FocusOnEducation
Who is Premier McNeil - Nova Scotia Christmas Concert Song

Table of Contents

Nova Scotia Christmas Concert Song

By Trevor Dimoff, Music Teacher, NSTU (Nova Scotia Teachers Union)

Christmas and Winter Holiday concerts were cancelled in 2016. This song is my view of an elementary music teacher… teaching young students who are trying to understand the changes at school while teachers “work to rule.”

Empathy is understanding other people, seeing through their eyes, walking in their shoes, feeling their joy and pain.

Just as music teachers across Nova Scotia were organizing the final rehearsals for Winter Holiday Concerts in 2016, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union members started job action in response to stalled contract negotiations with the Nova Scotia Liberal government. Teachers started “work to rule” protests, working to the letter of their contracts, and withdrawing all optional or extra work. This included concerts, after school music rehearsals and after school sports.

Young students who were expecting to sing in a Christmas concert didn’t understand what was happening or why their concert was cancelled. This song is a reflection of a child’s perception of the situation.


Premier Stephan McNeil led the charge to be “fiscally responsible” and refused to negotiate wages with the Teachers Union. Two months later, after teachers went on strike, Premier McNeil rather than negotiating, legislated Teacher wages. The NSTU filed a Canadian Charter of Rights court challenge with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. This is still working through the court and could take as long as 10 years and millions of dollars to resolve.

This song is one of my faster creations. I took it from the initial idea to a finished track in 7 days. You can read the complete lyrics below the soundcloud player…

Listen to I Just Want to Teach, the song I wrote and performed on the steps of the Provincial Legislature during the labour dispute…

Who is Premier McNeil? – Lyrics


Grownups using big words I don’t understand.

What’s a strike? What’s a lockout? What’s a “work to rule”?

Who broke my school? 

Who can help it heal?

Who is Premier McNeil?

Verse 1

I wrote a letter to Santa, I told him I was good.

I asked him why Christmas didn’t come to school. 

We didn’t have a concert… what did we do wrong?

Sometimes adults just don’t get it, they forget to get along.


Verse 2

When Daddy talks about school, or government or snow

He keeps using words I’m not s’posed to know.

Mommy’s writing emails, a new one every day.

She is mad. Do you know…what’s a M.L.A.?


Note: M.L.A. is a Member of the Legislative Assembly, an elected provincial politician.

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Trevor Dimoff

Trevor Dimoff

Trevor Dimoff has taught, played and written music professionally for the last 25+ years.

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