When it comes to students, let’s not play with the truth

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On October 9, 2012, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities made troubling comments on faculty in an article that appeared in the Peterborough Examiner. Here is OCUFA President Constance Adamson’s response.

This past Wednesday, October 10, 2012 the Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities Glen Murray, in an interview with the Peterborough Examiner, made this statement on the Government of Ontario’s proposed anti-public sector legislation:

“We will legislate and we have, as you know, with teachers. We don’t want to shove things down people’s throats, including collective bargaining, but we do have to manage within the means of the ability of people in Ontario to pay for public services. We do negotiate tough because we have a public interest. The price of restraint can’t be kicking students out of (universities) because we are going to be paying faculty more.”

First of all, when the government starts talking about kicking anybody out of anything, Ontarians should start to worry. But the Minister’s statement is also misleading. He is attempting to suggest that the citizens of our province must choose between anti-public sector legislation that strips away the fundamental rights of professors, academic librarians, and others in the Broader Public Sector, and “kicking students out” of universities.  I believe that every student, parent, faculty member, and voter in Ontario would be surprised and alarmed by both options.

The Minister knows that there is absolutely no danger, present or future, of any student being kicked out of university due to budget restraint. Universities budget for the number of students they enroll.  If the government wants to start kicking students out of university to save money, then that is a policy they would need to impose on our institutions.

Such a policy would be political suicide, and for good reason. The Minister knows this as well. So, why would he present such an alarming and false choice to Ontarians? One answer is that the Liberal government has decided to use the politics of fear and the politics of division in an attempt to build support for a unpopular and unconstitutional piece of legislation. Ontario’s professors and academic librarians hope this is not the case. We need more than just finger pointing and “straw men” to meet the challenges facing our universities.

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