Drinking with the Deb Matthews band
By Marshall Bellamy
London North Centre member of provincial Parliament and Ontario
Liberal party president Deb Matthews visited Western’s
Grad Club yesterday for a couple of beers and to take part
in a roundtable with a group of students to discuss tuition,
student loans and more.
Former University Students’ Council science councillor
Arzie Chant questioned Matthews on the Liberal government’s
commitment to a fully funded tuition freeze.
“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” said
Matt Lerner, a second-year honours business administration
student, referring to funding a tuition freeze with the risk
of a loss in the quality of education. “If we set controls
on costs, then we’d have just another system without
quality,” he added, comparing the post-secondary education
system to Ontario’s healthcare system.
“The students [and] the administration have been very
vocal to not sacrifice quality for the tuition freeze,” Matthews
said. “It’s something I absolutely recognize.”
“The [Ontario Student Assistance Program] amounts have
to reflect tuition; it makes no sense to have people taking
out bank loans,” she added. “We’re taking
a big look at OSAP — it’s all about accessibility.”
Fourth-year engineering student Kaylor Neable asked when students
would see the proposed tuition freeze.
“I don’t know, but it will be sooner than later,” Matthews
She was also asked about the possibility of de-regulated programs
not being included in the tuition freeze.
“I’m going to have to get back to you on that one,” Matthews
said. “All that stuff is really being looked at — this
is going to be a real big budget.”
“It’s not realistic to provide services and not
raise taxes and pay down the debt,” said first-year social
justice and peace student Paris Meilleur.
Matthews also spoke of the need for changes to the electoral
system in Ontario. “We think the voting system needs
some reforming,” she said. “It doesn’t reflect
the will of the people.
“We’re very much talking about a referendum, within
this mandate. This is going to be something we’ll take
to the people.”