More than 75 university and college professors, librarians, and academic staff from faculty associations across Canada took their demands for increased post-secondary education funding to Parliament Hill last month as part of a one-day national lobby blitz organized by CAUT and the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d'université.
"Overall, I think the reception we received was generally positive," said CAUT president Bill Graham. "Most politicians we met demonstrated a good understanding of the problems facing our post-secondary education system."
Representatives from CAUT and FQPPU-affiliated faculty associations met with more than 60 politicians and advisors from all five political parties.
"It was a very worthwhile event," one lobbyist commented. "The politicians I met recognized the urgency of the public funding crisis."
Graham and FQPPU president Arpi Hamalian spent two hours conferring with NDP leader Alexa McDonough and Human Resources Development Minister Jane Stewart.
Representatives of the two organizations also met with Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe, official Tory representative and MP Charlie Power, and senior advisors to Finance Minister Paul Martin, Industry Minister John Manley, and Heritage Minister Sheila Copps.
"The lobby was an excellent opportunity to work in solidarity with our colleagues from CAUT to defend post-secondary education as a public service," said Hamalian. "Universities must be supported by more public funds to preserve their integrity and independence."
CAUT and FQPPU used the lobby to call on Ottawa to increase post-secondary education funding to early 1980s levels, a move that would require an additional $2.7 billion. It is estimated the government currently spends about $1.6 billion -- down from $3 billion just six years ago.
CAUT is pressing Ottawa to commit one-half of 1 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product to the core funding of universities and colleges that would be transferred through a separate fund specifically earmarked for post-secondary education.
"With the federal government having turned the corner on the deficit, the money is there to repair the damage done to colleges and universities," added Graham. "We need to keep up our lobbying campaign to make sure the political will is there too."
The national lobby day received widespread print and electronic media attention, with more than 20 print stories across the country as well as national television and radio coverage.
CAUT is preparing a full report of the lobby day which will be available in the new year.