Volume 94, Issue 74

Friday, February 2, 2001


Leadership experience comes up at forum

Prez wannabes visit affilites

Student groups say Throne speech lacking

Lawless has the gusto for office

Skydiver hobos would be a bit over-the-top

Corroded Disorder

Student groups say Throne speech lacking

By Claire Green
Gazette Writer

After hearing the federal government's throne speech earlier this week, student groups were anything but impressed.

The speech, delivered Monday by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, steered clear of the real problems in post secondary education, said Erin George, president of the Canadian Federation of Students.

George said she was disappointed there was no mention of freezing tuition fees, relieving student debt or restoring education funding. "The government has failed all Canadian students in this throne speech, which was noticeably lacking any mention of post secondary education," she said.

The speech touched upon two aspects associated with post secondary education: the continuing excellence of Canadian research and Registered Individual Learning Accounts. Clarkson said the government intends to strengthen the research capacity of Canadian universities through the continuation of public-private partnerships.

But George argued the research commitment is not enough. "The government should provide 100 per cent funding instead of bringing private companies into [universities]. This causes the research to be done for-profit instead of public good," she said.

According to the speech, Registered Individual Learning Accounts are created to make it easier for Canadians students to finance their learning. "This will improve the loans available to part time students but leaves out the core of the student body," George said.

Ed Morgan, press officer for the Prime Minister's Office, declined comment on any criticisms about the speech. "We have nothing further to add to the Prime Minister's comments," he said.

But Canadian Alliance Member of Parliament for Edmonton-North, Deborah Grey, said the deficiencies in the speech did not come as surprise.

"[The Liberals] are out of fresh ideas and don't realize that education is an ongoing commitment, not a one time vision." she said. "The fact that they tossed the millennium fund last year but yet continued to keep on marching should have opened some eyes."

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations was also disappointed with the speech. "There was a lot of talk about innovation but none directed towards the education policy," said Mark Kissel, CASA's national director. "The overall speech was very wishy-washy. It needed to go into more detail with many of its issues."

Yet, Kissel did say CASA was slightly impressed with the government's continuing commitment to previously announced initiatives like the RILAs and research dollars. Even though these issues are being dealt with, they are not the main issues for the majority of students, Kissel said.

"It is all well and good to offer a slight improvement here and another improvement there, but the post-secondary system needs larger, bolder steps forward if Canada is to remain competitive globally."

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