Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

Elections!

So, as expected, the opposition party’s motion of non-confidence came up in Parliament. The opposition parties all voted in favour. The next general election has been scheduled for January 23, 2006, not quite a year and a half after the last election. Predictions abound, with the idea of another Liberal minority being the most popular, though with more or less seats being hard to predict. A few people even think that there may be a Conservative minority government after it’s all said and done.

It doesn’t matter a lot to me. I’m in a riding that votes staunchly Conservative every year, so my vote is not going to make a difference in this election. That said, on January 23rd, my vote will still be going into the polls. Why? Because one of the last things Jean Chr├ętien did was to create a bill that stops corporate and union donations to political parties. The bill provided that every party with a certain percentage of the vote would get a sum of money for each and every vote they receive. So, while my vote may not have any effect this election, it might have an effect for the next one. That’s something that we all need to remember, our votes now count for two elections, not just one. So think long and hard on your vote. Consider who you’re voting for. Are they really the people you want to be giving money to?

Reference
Elections Canada (2005). Elections: Important Information for the 39th General Election. Retrieved from http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=ele&document=index&dir=39ge&lang=e&textonly=false

Alberta Centennial Scholarship for Canadians

The Alberta Government is taking some of its surplus windfall, and, just in time for a federal election, is giving 25 students from each province $2,005 dollars toward study in a Canadian institution. This recognition for students outside of Alberta is an encouraging sign, as it lends more weight to the idea that Alberta should also fund its universities not just on the number of Alberta students attending, but rather on the number of Canadian students attending. Currently, the legislation requires that Alberta tuition fees make up no more than 30 percent of the operating costs of a university. If it is more than that the university cannot raise tuition more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus two percent. (Why it should be allowed to raise tuition more than the CPI is a question I’ve always wondered, but nobody’s been able to provide me with an answer.)

For several years now, AU’s tuition income has covered about half of its operating costs, but tuition fees have still increased well beyond the CPI plus two percent range. The trick is that since the Alberta government only counts the tuition from Alberta citizens, AU has managed to claim that it was under that 30 percent cap. If, however, Alberta starts recognizing out of province students as valid and important to Alberta’s economy, it stands to reason that they might also recognize the tuition contribution from all of an institution’s students, not just the Alberta ones. When that happens, in order to keep AU operating, the Alberta government will have to reconsider what it gives to the institution. Since more money for AU translates to better service, more tutors, more courses, and more distance-enabling technology for AU, it means better things for all of us.

References
Alberta Department of Advanced Education (2005). Tuition Fee Policy. Retrieved from http://www.advancededucation.gov.ab.ca/reading/policy/pol/Tuition_fee_Policy.asp
Alberta Department of Advanced Education (2005, November 22). Alberta Centennial Scholarship Continues Longstanding Tradition of Helping Students Financially. Retrieved from http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200511/19098B8A5618B-0ABA-5145-39937A4952B8A093.html

Cheap Loans for Universities

The Ontario provincial government has enacted legislation that will allow universities to take out cheap loans to help build or renew infrastructure. Costs that are eligible under the loan program are those for renewing and renovating academic teaching facilities, research facilities, student residences, daycare facilities, and recreation and sport facilities. The Ontario government is hailing this as a wonderful thing, but it seems it isn’t asking the question of why are these measures needed?

Maybe the Ontario government is happy about it, but it strikes me as sort of disgraceful that the government has decided that it should make money off of Ontario universities having been so under-funded for years that now they need to take out loans to make sure that things such as daycare facilities and classrooms are usable for students. In my opinion, the government should have paid for those things in the first place if they truly think an educated populace is important.

Reference
Ontario Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal (2005, November 23). Province Making Ontario Universities Better Places to Learn: Now Eligible For Ontario Strategic Infrastructure Financing Authority (OSIFA) Loans. Retrieved from http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2005/11/23/c8916.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html

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