Volume 96, Issue 82
Thursday, March 6, 2003

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NDP platform targets education

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

The Ontario New Democratic Party recently released their election platform – and left-wing hippies across the province held a collective bong session in celebration.

The NDP, in preparation for a likely spring provincial election, released an 80-page document outlining their plans should they form the next government.

There would be an immediate re-regulation and reduction of all programs across the board, said Alejandra Bravo, an NDP researcher, adding the goal is for the eventual elimination of tuition.

"Following that, [we would] look for a decrease or at least freezing [tuition levels] at 10 per cent decreased cost," Bravo said.

"It's been a long time since students had a grant program in Ontario," Bravo said, adding they would like to implement one immediately.

"We are being consistent with commitments we have made in the past, given the kind of hardships that students are facing and families are facing," she explained.

"Ability and qualification need to be the deciding factors on access, not the size of your parent's wallet," Bravo said.

Student organizations lobbying for tuition reductions, more funding for universities and increased funding have made a difference, she said. "We believe the promises we have made will make post-secondary education more affordable, more accessible and a higher quality for all," Bravo stated.

"It's excellent [that] the [NDP] have committed to reducing tuition fees by 10 per cent," said Joel Duff, Ontario Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students, adding reducing fees is just the first step.

Josh Morgan, University Students' Council VP-education and president of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, said there are many positive elements to the platform, including bringing spending per student up to the national level.

"I think these elements are positive because it shows the NDP has sat down and looked at [issues] from students' perspectives," Morgan said, adding the one area the platform does not address is the quality of the education system.

"In power, the NDP would have to rank its promises in priority," said Sid Noel, a Western professor of political science. "If they make post-secondary education their number 2 priority [after health care], then they could do these things."

"If you don't set priorities – you can make promises to a lot of sectors and groups," Noel said.

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2002 THE GAZETTE