The Charlatan is Carleton University’s independent student newspaper run separately from the School of Journalism.
Four candidates running in the Ottawa Centre riding gathered for an all-candidates debate in Carleton’s Unicentre Sept. 27 ahead of the Oct. 6 provincial election.
Yasir Naqvi of the Ontario Liberal Party, Anil Naidoo of the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP), Kevin O’Donnell of the Green Party of Ontario, and Stuart Ryan of the Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) were all present at the panel. The candidate for Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives, Rob Dekker, was not.
“Education is about the future,” Naidoo said in his opening remarks. “We need a strong education system. I think that is core and fundamental to the candidate that we want and the kind of Ontario that we want.”
Naqvi, Ottawa Centre’s incumbent member of provincial parliament (MPP), said under the Liberal government, Carleton has been granted $25 million for the new River and Canal buildings.
Naqvi also said he secured $16 million to expand and renovate the MacOdrum Library.
Naqvi said he’s “proud to have made significant investments in the infrastructure that is very much needed at Carleton.”
The Liberal government is also promising a 30 per cent reduction in tuition fees for all Ontario undergraduates whose families earn less than $160,000 per year. This would mean annual saving of about $1,600 per university student, and $700 per college student.
Naidoo, on the other hand, discussed the NDP’s promise to to freeze tuition fees and eliminate the interest off student loans.
“Taking the interest off of tuition is a huge step forward,” Naidoo said. “You know that your interest rates are much higher than the prime. It can be a burden.”
Naidoo explained how student loan interest can put students “further and further in the hole.”
O’Donnell, Ottawa Centre’s Green candidate acknowledged the party’s focus on long-term sustainability, but said there’s more to it.
“One of the prime focuses of the Green party is long-term sustainability,” O’Donnell said. “And that’s going to be the environment, like you’d come to expect from the Green party.”
“But it’s also financial sustainability and the sustainability of our social platform — that includes education.”
The Greens have no plans on decreasing tuition fees in the near future, but the party plans to “freeze tuition for next year and then hold it just to inflation until 2015,” O’Donnell said.
Ryan, who also works for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, local 4600 at Carleton, said he can sympathize with those paying huge sums of tuition fees, since he pays for his son to attend Carleton.
“Ontario has the highest tuition fees in the country,” Ryan said.
“Ontario also provides the lowest funding for students in university. Alberta gives $23,000 per student, Ontario gives $10,000.”
Ryan discussed how tuition has been increasing since the NDP government in Ontario, and the Conservatives and Liberals have continued it.
Ryan said his party would abolish tuition fees and tax cuts made by the Liberals in 2010 would fully fund tuition fees. Ryan is looking to double corporate tax to help fund their action plan.