Volume 96, Issue 98
Thursday, April 3, 2003

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MacKay speaks to The Gazette

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Conservative Party of Canada leadership hopeful Peter MacKay was in London yesterday took a few minutes to speak with The Gazette concerning the state of post-secondary education in Canada.


"[I do see] an increased role [for the federal government] in terms of less burden through tax reforms," MacKay said, adding any reforms to help students would have to be made in conjunction with the provinces.

"[We propose] to remove taxes on books and scholarships," he continued, noting he would also like to set up another student program that could be administered with the provinces. "[It] would recognize volunteer activity towards a student's debt," he explained, adding it could be applied to as much as 25 per cent of debt.

"I think most provinces are altruistic enough that, if the federal government [is] making proposals to help students, they'll be on board," MacKay said, when asked about working with provincial governments.

"Good will can be found quickly [between the federal and provincial governments] – if the aim is the betterment of students.

"The volunteer program is an opportunity to get students in the work-force," he said. Volunteering is direct tangible experience that students can garner during the crucial phase of job hunting, which, for most students, is right after university, MacKay added.

When asked about the Canada Student Loans program, MacKay said individuals are often disqualified with out good reason. "We sometimes penalize students," he said. The parental contributions that are calculated into current student loans assume every parent is going to pay, MacKay explained. There should be other built-in incentives to the program to encourage parents to help, he explained.

MacKay said he does not favour free education, an issue which some student lobby groups have been pushing for. "What do you do for current students, or past students still paying off debt?" MacKay asked. "Free education has a huge price tag attached to it."

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2002 THE GAZETTE