March 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 87  

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Drinking with the Deb Matthews band

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

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 replied.

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.”



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