Volume 93, Issue 46

November 19, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Guilty by Silence

Editorial Cartoon

Guilty by Silence

Politicians side-stepping important issues – what else is new?

Wednesday, the Toronto Star ran a front page story regarding alleged education cuts slated for the next Progressive Conservative budget. The supposed leaked government document proposed funneling a fresh $800 million out of the already decrepit post-secondary education coffer.

However, in a media scrum at Queen's Park yesterday, not one word of the alleged education cuts was mentioned.

Is Premier Mike Harris and his cronies pretending the leaked documents never made it to the front of a major paper and subsequent newscasts across the province?

The press conference went over other facts of the proposed budget cuts, but the silence regarding the document in question makes one suspect they did not address the situation on purpose, as to avoid an almost instantaneous uproar from the education sector. Their decision seems to imply their possible guilt over the situation.

The fact is, the PCs were given the chance to present or defend their side of the leaked statements at yesterday's televised forum and yet they decided to treat the situation like it never even happened. Perhaps the party hopes public sentiment will die down before they drop the $800 million bomb.

The most pressing concern with this sequence of events is the lack of information and/or clarification the government is providing in their silence. This silence, coupled with last month's incredibly vague Throne Speech, should be sending chills down the spine of the Conservative voting population.

What can we as students do?

Take time off work, school, life and go down to stand up for something the party won't even discuss? Not vote Big Blue come next election day? Why not?

The powers-that-be would love us to just play possum and let the government do what they want. To assume that a democratic public would just roll over and ignore the potential of a situation of this magnitude is a huge insult to the intelligence of the Ontario population.

The monetary grey area the Tories have left the public to ponder is one that oozes with Big Brotherness. We have a right to know what is going on in parliament. Our democratic right to know what the government is doing with our money should be the first thing on every politician's list.

If the government is planning to make large cuts to education, it should be revealed now. Corralling further cuts to education and health care away from the ears of Ontarians is only adding to the eventual uproar and giving no credit to the public. Treating their voters with little respect stands only to damage the integrity of the Conservative party.

In a democracy, a suspicious government is a doomed one. And by averting the looming question of potential cuts to education, the PCs are not making a scholarly decision.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999