Questions loom over Liberal promises
As election day creeps up, party finger-pointing is at its
peak and this week's focus is on Dalton McGuinty and the Liberal
Party, whose platform has been criticized for flip-flopping
throughout the campaign.
Concern stems from McGuinty's promised $5.9 billion increase
in spending, when the province is already $4.5 billion in debt,
prompting speculation many Liberal spending priorities will
be delayed, including a freeze on tuition.
"Tuition will be frozen for at least two years," confirmed
Marie Bountrogianni, Liberal critic for colleges and universities,
noting despite the, rumours the Liberals intend to delay freezing
tuition even in the face of budgetary concerns.
According to Bountrogianni, post-secondary education is the
highest priority of the Liberals and if elected, McGuinty will
follow through with his election policies because the proposed
Liberal budget has taken into account the possibility of a
$2 billion deficit. "There may be some promises that will be
delayed," she added.
"I'm telling you right now we will balance the budget," Bountrogianni
asserted, adding all of the Liberal's campaign promises will
be fulfilled, even if they are not followed through until the
second or third year the Liberals are in office.
Members of the New Democratic Party, however, are far from
convinced. "My concern is that when [McGuinty] was asked what
he would cut, tuition fees were the first thing that came to
his mind. For [him] the first people hurt by the Liberal flip-flop
will be the students," said Rebecca Coulter, NDP candidate
for London North Centre.
"He has said it and he may have retracted the statement, but
why should we believe him now, given that he has already flip-flopped
on other issues, like privatization," Coulter continued.
"It will be an interesting last three days of campaigning," noted
Dianne Cunningham, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities
and Progressive Conservative candidate for London North Centre,
adding the Liberals do not seem to have confidence of their
financial policies and they have not yet seen the budget.
According to Cunningham, the Conservatives' record with post-secondary
education has been good, professors have been getting favourable
wages, tuition has been frozen at an increase of two per cent
a year and universities have been expanded.
Cunningham pointed out the Liberals have only asked her four
questions concerning her portfolio over the last four years.
When asked to confirm or deny McGuinty's statement about the
tuition freeze, many Liberal campaign members declined, repeatedly
stating McGuinty will stick to his commitment.
"We have no idea what sort of shambles the government will
be in if we get elected," said one Liberal campaign member
who chose to remain anonymous.
"We welcome the fact that the Liberals have re-affirmed their
commitment and it's much needed," University Students' Council
VP-education Dave Ford said.