Volume 93, Issue 30

Friday, October 22, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Speech sings same old song

Editorial cartoon

Speech sings same old song

Yesterday's Throne speech likely left many Ontario students feeling a strange sense of déja-vu.

Although no one really expects groundbreaking policy announcements or promises to emerge from a Throne speech, there was definitely something disheartening about yesterday's address, as the only thing it seemed to include was an all too familiar political rhetoric.

Ontario students should be concerned with the ambiguity of the speech, because tuition is not getting any lower, financial aid isn't exactly flowing abundantly and no one in Queen's Park seems to care.

Last week, when Premier Mike Harris visited Western, he said he could not comment on the impending speech, but that post-secondary education would definitely be addressed.

If the premier thinks vaguely promising to increase student aid and deciding to crack down on OSAP fraud, without actually citing the ways and means this can and should be done, is a step in the right direction, are we really moving forward at all?

While it is fair to say the Throne speech is meant to outline the general direction in which the provincial government wants to take the province, they still have a responsibility to be accountable to its people.

It would be flattery to say the speech was non-committal at best. It glazed over many important issues concerning the people of this province – issues student lobby groups have worked so hard to stress to the provincial and federal governments.

Harris was elected for the first time in 1995. He was re-elected again this past June. Suffice it to say, he's not in a new position. If he has been doing his job all these years, it is entirely fair to assume he knows exactly what issues concern Ontarians.

Why then, four months into Harris' second term, is the Throne speech raising more questions than answers? We should be demanding, at the very least, the government take a serious hard-nosed look at issues like post-secondary education.

With the provincial budget announced every spring, students should demand the Throne speech be a preamble to the budgetary review. If OSAP and financial aid are going to be mentioned in the speech, dollar amounts should not be so conveniently left out. Without specificity, there can be no accountability.

The ambiguity in the over-used word "commitment" raises a slew of questions. Is this so-called "commitment" a thing of the past or the future? Students should know for certain if the government intends to move forward with commitments, or only reflect on past ones.

Unfortunately, whenever Throne speeches are bellowed, the strategic vagueness leaves listeners floating aimlessly in a sea of ambiguity which has become all too familiar for students.

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