Volume 96, Issue 19
Tuesday October 1, 2002

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Government fails to crown education

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

It was all pomp and ceremony at the nation's capital yesterday, as Canada's Governor General delivered the speech from the throne.

Governor General Adrienne Clarkson highlighted some of the key issues for Parliament over the next 10 years, including the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and the possible decriminalization of marijuana.

"I think it's an attempt by Mr. Chretien to put in place certain policies that he's been working on for a long time," said Paul Nesbitt-Larking, a professor of political science at Huron University College. "There's a lot of rhetoric and not much specifics."

Post-secondary education, however, was not one of the top priorities of this year's speech.

"The Liberals have stressed education in previous throne speeches and I'm not surprised that it wasn't front and centre this time," Nesbitt-Larking said.

"[The government] has invested in access to universities and in excellence in university research because Canada's youth need and deserve the best education possible, and Canada needs universities that produce the best knowledge and the best graduates," Clarkson said.

According to Josh Morgan, VP-education for the University Students' Council and president of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, there were no substantial commitments to key areas within post-secondary education.

Morgan said the state of federal programs such as the Canada Student Loans Program and the Debt Reduction and Repayment Program were not addressed.

"The federal government needs to step up and make a commitment to addressing students' concerns with these important programs so that they can, at the very least, fulfill their mandates," Morgan said.

Among other things, the government hinted at the possibility of the decriminalization of marijuana possession. "[The government] will act on the results of parliamentary consultations with Canadians on options for change in our drug laws, " Clarkson said.

"[The decriminalization of marijuana] has been a topic of agenda for a long time," Nesbitt-Larking said.

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2002 THE GAZETTE