Education News – Finley oversees federal student aid again

Re-appointment of old minister invokes harsh memories

OTTAWA (CUP) ? Diane Finley has got her old job back?a move that has frustrated at least one post-secondary lobby group.

The Conservative government announced its new ministry at a swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, October 30 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

As part of the cabinet shuffle, Finley became the new minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, a post she had previously held in 2006 before being replaced by Monte Solberg.

HRSD is responsible for the federal government’s post-secondary education portfolio, which oversees federal student aid.

David Robinson, associate executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, calls Finley’s shift back to HRSD “worrisome.?

?She was a shadow minister. No one really saw her,” he said. ?It’s a bit of an uninspiring appointment.?

Finley did not personally meet with any prominent student lobby group during the 10 months she held the position in 2006.

Finley could not be reached for comment as of press time, as neither she nor her staff appeared at the office today, said spokesperson Julie Hahn.

When asked about whether the minister plans to meet with student groups in the coming weeks, Hahn said the minister’s timetable would be distributed soon.

?The minister was just sworn in today. The logistics behind this can take a while,? she said.

Robinson stated he had ?asked to meet with her many times? during her previous appointment, but was never granted a meeting.

?The first day or two of [Solberg?s] appointment, he actually phoned us,? Robinson reflected. ?It was a different kind of approach.?

Ian Boyko?the government relations co-ordinator for Canada’s largest student lobby group, the Canadian Federation of Students?is cautiously optimistic.

?It continues to pose a challenge,? Boyko said of the minister’s track record.
He adds, however, that the Federation still accomplished some of its goals in 2006.

?We can have an effect, and did have an effect, without meeting with the minister,? he said.

Boyko says Finley’s move back into Human Resources may speak to the government’s priorities.

?They probably think they’ve done a lot of work on the post-secondary education file,? he said. ?There’s still a considerable funding gap . . . despite the increase, there’s still room to be made up.?

In 2007, Finley swapped positions with Solberg, who was minister of Citizenship and Immigration (now called Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism).

This September, Solberg announced he would not be running for re-election.

Other Cabinet appointments

Out of 38 members of the Canadian ministry, only 12 spots remained the same.
Finley is replaced by Jason Kenney, who was previously minister for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity. That ministry no longer exists, as it appears to have been merged with Immigration.

Jim Prentice, who was previously minister of Industry, is now minister for Environment.

Prentice brought forward the controversial bill that would have amended the Copyright Act to bring Canadian law in line with many elements of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

He is replaced by Tony Clement, who was previously minister of health. Clement was minister during the Health Ministry’s battle with many lobby groups, including the CAUT, over whether safe-injection sites should be permitted in Canada.

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