Volume 95, Issue 73

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

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"Excitement can only spread"

Website rates profs

Jimmy Flaherty cases Western for voters

Drunkards steal squash trophy

Lobby groups lack self-esteem, bicker for friends

Jimmy Flaherty cases Western for voters

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

Deputy Premier and Ontario Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty held a question and answer session on campus yesterday in an effort to boost support for his Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership bid.

Flaherty addressed the environment, health care and tax cuts, but the question of post-secondary education funding dominated the forum.

At the suggestion that the government needs to provide more funding to universities and colleges, Flaherty pointed out that tuition in Ontario is reasonable in comparison to other nations. "There are only two sources of money [for education]. One is the general tax base, the other [is the students]," Flaherty said.

He also cited double cohort-specific funding and the SuperBuild project as initiatives his party had taken to ensure continued access to universities. "[Western president] Paul Davenport was very helpful to me last year as Finance Minister with respect to helping me understand the financial [needs of universities]," Flaherty said.

"We need our post-secondary institutions to differentiate themselves, to become experts [in particular fields]," he added.

According to Kendra Coulter, a fourth-year scholar's electives student, Flaherty's statements revealed some inconsistencies in his policy objectives. "You do not create excellent, quality institutions with penny offerings and corporate tax breaks," she said.

Flaherty maintained private tax credits are fair and promote healthy competition. "Ordinary people have a real choice, not just rich people." Flaherty also suggested ways to deal with the doctor shortage in Ontario. "We need to bring more physicians from abroad to Canada. We need to expand our medical schools," he said.

Dave Forestell, president of the Ontario PC Youth Association, said he felt the finance minister handled the questions well leading up to tonight's debate at the London Hilton.

"Obviously, not everyone left the room ready to vote for him, but he was here to answer questions and it went well," Forestell said.

Members of the provincial PC party will elect a new party leader and, subsequently, a new premier on Mar. 23. Health Minister Tony Clement, former finance minister Ernie Eves, Labour Minister Chris Stockwell and Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer are also seeking the party leadership. All will be in London today for a televised debate.

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