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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 1997

The Opposition Responds on PSE

Jean Charest, the Conservative Leader, attacked the scale of cuts to the transfer payments to the provinces for health, post-secondary education and welfare and said that these should be slowed down. The Reform Party was already on record in its election platform calling for more funding of research and development — to be paid for by slashing other federal programs.

However, the most detailed criticism came from the NDP which, while welcoming the Liberal initiatives, complained that they hardly made up for the massive cuts in transfer payments to the provinces and in the base budgets of the federal research councils.

Svend Robinson, the NDP critic, said that it was also important to recall what the Liberals had not announced, namely a five year plan to ensure that Canada has world-class and competitive universities. He pointed out that the government had ignored a key component of the Ottawa higher education coalition’s position, namely the provision of targeted grants for low income students. Nor did the Liberals fund the range of suggestions on research made by the coalition.

He cited the alternative budget as a better route to follow. "All in all," he said, the Liberal budget was a disappointment. Give a little, take a lot, and hope that the voters have bad memories."