Student killed in accident
"O" what a successful week
J.W. Little struck by ENG 04 graffiti
Name on time, but field a little late
Students bring the big bucks to town
All's quiet on the Western front
Just when you thought you could have safe sex
CUPE taking on Harris' Tories
New campaign seeks $270 million
CUPE taking on Harris' Tories
By Chris Lackner
A raging battle is brewing in the corridors of Queen's Park as the Canadian Union of Public Employees recently traded blows with Ontario's provincial government.
Brian O'Keefe, the Ontario Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE, explained Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Dianne Cunningham, was recently put on notice that CUPE members would fight the introduction of private universities into Ontario.
"If private universities enter Ontario, it will draw funds away from the 17 existing public institutions," O'Keefe said. "There is a huge funding crises for public universities because of expansion and increased enrollment. Private universities are a way for the government to divert attention away from the problem."
O'Keefe said CUPE was co-ordinating with the Canadian Federation of Students and other student and faculty associations, to form a plan of action against the Tories. "We're not taking this lying down. The government has committed to this process, but we need to find a way to discourage private institutions from entering Ontario."
Dave Ross, media-spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said the government consulted with CUPE and heard its arguments, but decided to move forward with their initiative. "The decision [for private universities] has already been made. It will ensure a full range of choices for the students of Ontario."
Ross explained no money from the taxpayer will go towards private institutions. "They will be independently funded. The government has made that very clear."
Rick Telfer, deputy-chair person of the national graduate caucus of the CFS, slammed the Tories for their lack of consultation on the privatization issue. "The government held mock consultations, but they were far from public. There was extremely poor student representation."
Telfer said CFS is spear-heading demonstrations during the Tory policy convention in Toronto between Oct. 20 and 22. "We need to get our message out into the open. It's a matter people taking a leadership role. It would be nice if the [University Students' Council] took that initiative."
Jeff Sutton, VP-education for the USC, said Western's student government will not take direct action on the issue. "Initially we were opposed 100 per cent, but the government is going ahead with allowing the private sector in. We need to work with the government to ensure standards of equality," Sutton said. "Do we stand here, say no and get left out of the process, or do we concede and say if you're going to do this, then here are our concerns and here is our point-of-view."
Fern Gauthier, president of Western's Society of Graduate Students, said the government is pushing their funding problems into the private sector. "The transfer from public to private is a dangerous trend. It ensures that industry is looked after and not the public," he explained. "This is a tough government. They have their agenda and they stick to it despite any public outcries."