London candidates talk education
By Paolo Zinatelli
With the federal election coming in less than three weeks,
The Gazette decided to ask London North-Centre candidates about
a topic students might be interested in — post-secondary
“Our government over the past number of years has done
a number of things educated-related,” said Liberal incumbent
Joe Fontana. He cited examples such as enhancement to the Canada
Student Loans Program, increased money for grants and graduate
students, the Millennium Scholarships and an increase in the
Research and Development budget.
“I’ve delivered tens of millions of dollars to
Western [in recent years],” Fontana said, adding along
with these grants comes an increase in operating dollars to
help upgrade university facilities.
“The big picture is to make sure we have more grants,
loans and bursaries available,” he said, explaining that
tuition is out of the federal government’s jurisdiction
and lies with the provincial government.
According to Conservative candidate Tim Gatten, there has
been “a lot of Liberal neglect in [the area of education]
over the past 10 years.
“I teach at Fanshawe [College] and I’ve seen firsthand
good students who are affected by the economy in a direct way,” Gatten
said. “The main problem is costs and debts, and we want
to try and do something about it. [The Conservative Party’s]
focus is accessibility.”
Gatten also explained the Conservatives’ plan to revamp
the Canada Student Loans program to make funding more accessible
for students who slip through the cracks.
“One of the main things we believe is that a healthy,
strong economy will provide good jobs for students once they
graduate and also good summer jobs to take stress off students
during the year,” Gatten said, noting a Conservative
government would want to work in closer partnership with the
provinces in regard to the issue of education to ensure stable
“Higher education is a key to success and we have to
recognize that fact,” he added.
New Democratic Party candidate Joe Swan said his party is
focusing on three main areas of post-secondary education. “Post-[graduation]
debt is not getting [graduates] off to a good start in their
careers,” he said.
Swan explained the NDP would make the interest paid on Canada
Student Loans a tax credit on income tax.
Tuition fees would also be cut by 10 per cent and then frozen
at that level, with the aid of increased federal funding. Swan
said the NDP would be “providing literally billions of
dollars” and dedicating resources to the provinces for
Finally, the party would look at research programs and what
Swan said is the “corporate creep into the research area.” He
added the NDP would focus on stimulating public interest research.
“I’m somewhat disappointed in the timing of this
election for students,” he said, explaining that a summer
election makes it difficult for students who are in transition
or moving to other cities.
“It’s got to be tuition costs,” said Bronagh
Morgan, the Green Party candidate, when asked what she considered
to be the main issue with post secondary education.
There are intelligent people who cannot even afford to go
to school anymore, she said, adding the Green Party would increase
the number of grants and the amount of federal funding.
—with files from Megan O’Toole