Volume 96, Issue 91
Friday, March 21, 2003

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NDP critic slams Tory record on education

By Anthony Lafratta
Gazette Staff

The provincial Progressive Conservatives were lambasted on their social policy yesterday afternoon in the University Community Centre by the New Democratic Party's critic for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Rosario Marchese.

Marchese appeared alongside Rebecca Coulter, NDP candidate for London North Centre, courtesy of SmartVote. SmartVote is a University Students' Council initiative which encourages members of provincial parliament to come and speak directly to students at Western, said USC VP-education Joshua Morgan.

"As NDP critic for education, Rosario is working alongside NDP leader Howard Hampton, Toronto parents and teachers to stave off the current education crisis and bring forth needed change," Morgan said.

Marchese immediately launched into an attack on the current Conservative government, which he accused of having taken $10 billion out of provincial coffers by reducing income tax, resulting in reduced quality of education, health care, environmental and social services.

"The government denies taking $2 billion out of post-secondary education," Marchese said. "They say there's more than there's ever been, [but] of course it's been proven that that's a fraud.

"How can they make up [for funding cuts]? By increasing tuition fees and deregulating programs," Marchese said.

"Deregulated programs have skyrocketed beyond imagination and, in my view, it's wrong," he said, noting law school fees at the University of Toronto could soon jump to $25,000 a year.

If elected in the upcoming provincial election, Marchese vowed the NDP would immediately put $3 billion back into education, reduce tuition fees by 10 per cent and eventually seek to eliminate them altogether.

Marchese proposed creating a new tax bracket for those making over $100,000 and over $150,000, as well as increasing corporate taxes to the 1995 level in order to raise the necessary $3 billion.

"Money does not grow on trees; we need to pay income taxes. I'm happy to pay my fair share and if people feel it's the fairest thing to do, they'll vote for us," Marchese said.

"It's inspiring to see politicians willing to take the time to talk to students. It's refreshing to see that they're committed to accessible post-secondary education and are willing to institute the measures to achieve it," said incoming USC VP-education Dave Ford.

"The sentiments of the NDP are shared by many students, but without concrete details on how to implement these ideas, it's hard to see how they could be credible," said Rohan Belliappa, incoming USC VP-finance.


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