Volume 92, Issue 8

Wednesday, September 16, 1998

wheeling and dealing


Follow the leader

Well it's about time.

It was only over a year and one election ago that London North Centre Member of Parliament Joe Fontana promised he would visit campus regularly – and now it seems like it could happen.

After meeting with various members of the University Students' Council Board of Directors yesterday, Fontana promised he would meet with the board every three months. He even set up the date for their next meeting.

This is a huge step for the student cause.

After last year's various failed attempts at lobbying Western administration, something which has about as much hope as lobbying students to drink non-alcoholic beer, it looks like the newest avenue for fighting the student cause is a relatively optimistic one.

Fontana has long-since been a student supporter by bringing their concerns to parliament, but has fairly recently come into a position where he can do something more substantial. Now the chair of the Liberal Caucus, Fontana's word carries a lot more influence than in the past. He now has a say in shaping the party's policies and talks directly to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

Meeting with the MP responsible for the university is an optimistic step – but it is only a step, although in the right direction.

The federal government can only do so much for post secondary reforms. They can put in place a better student loan program and increase transfers to the provinces, something that should be done, but tuition increases fall under the reign of the provincial government.

The provincial government announced last year they would allow some programs to be deregulated, causing tuition to go up at Western, in some cases up to 144 per cent. The provincial government has allowed regular undergraduate tuition to increase by over 100 per cent in the '90s. The provincial government has given universities permission to increase tuition another 10 per cent next year.

Get the point yet?

It's great to see that Fontana has shown an interest in helping out students but all there is in the way of guarantees right now from the governing provincial party is a meeting. Meetings are nice, but something more has to happen than just a simple meet and greet.

Joe Fontana has so far set a pretty good example of how to represent a very significant portion of the population – the students. It is now time for the provincial government to follow that example and the federal government to listen to the message being sent through Fontana from students.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazette.editor@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998