Since Patrick Brown stepped down on Jan. 25, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has nosedived into political chaos, with its caucus in a desperate search to reestablish stability ahead of the provincial election in June.
Brown departed his leadership position following unproven allegations of sexual misconduct, totally devastated in the court of public opinion, with his denial drowned out by overwhelming of support for the two women who accused the former leader.
The pair came forward in a CTV News exclusive to give their allegations anonymously, but there has yet to have been any legal action filed against Brown.
Now the PC Party is holding a leadership election to replace the former rising political star and challenge the Liberals and New Democrats in the coming months, with several contenders declaring over the past week.
Doug Ford, former city councilor and brother of late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, announced his candidacy from his mothers basement on Jan. 29, and was the first to declare an intention to run.
On Feb. 1, Christine Elliott announced her candidacy on Twitter with a simple “I’m in!”
Earlier in the day, both CP24 and the CBC reported that Caroline Mulroney has an intention to run, but that has not been confirmed at this time.
More details to follow. Image of PC Party logo from Under Consideration. ■
Doug Ford visits new Humber College building
The premier visited the Barrett Centre.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford visited the new Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation on Friday at North Campus, a visit that was unlisted on Humber College’s event calendar.
Ford was on campus with Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano and city councillor Michael Ford, who represents the ward Humber is located in.
“We’ve invested over $20 million in pre-apprenticeship training, like the General Machinist program at Humber,” Ford said in a tweet. ■
MPP calls for education minister to admit drop in enrolment
An open letter sent to the PC minister.
A Liberal member of provincial parliament on Tuesday wrote an open letter to the minister in charge of post-secondary education, calling on his ministry to reveal the number of students unable to attend university or college this year due to student loan cuts.
MPP Michael Coteau, one of six remaining Liberals in the provincial parliament, asked in his letter to Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Ross Romano to admit that post-secondary enrolment is down due to Ontario Student Assistance Program cuts.
“Your government cut funding to OSAP by $660 million. At the same time, you cut funding to universities by $360 million and to colleges by $80 million–all to give a few hundred-dollars reduction in tuition,” Coteau, the MPP for Don Valley East in Toronto wrote.
The provincial Progressive Conservative government announced earlier this year a reform package that cut domestic tuition by 10 per cent, slashed grants and loans offered via OSAP and introduced optional student fees via the Student Choice Initiative, a move opposed by student unions.
Calling the OSAP cuts “misguided and wrong”, Coteau said that “if enrolment decline is as drastic as is widely indicated through available evidence across the sector, this represents a catastrophic failure that will impact thousands of students, particularly low-income students.”
“There is no better investment a government can make in our future economic competitiveness than training up our young people or helping adults return to school.”
Beyond domestic students, Coteau pointed out that institutions will have to bring in more foreign students to fill the tuition gap. Any decline would also impact the local economies of any college or university.
Coteau said that he was the first member of his family to graduate from university, which would have been impossible without OSAP, writing that “the greatest waste in Ontario is the waste of human potential, and these foolish cuts to universities and colleges are harming thousands of students and our economic prospects.”
Under the previous Liberal provincial government, the bottom 200,000 students in terms of income were able to attend post-secondary on 100 per cent grants, virtually free. The degrees of grants were higher for students in general and there was movement towards universal education in Ontario.
However, when the Progressive Conservatives won the provincial election of 2018, the government under Premier Doug Ford slashed OSAP to a point where no student is eligible for 100 per cent grants and many students have said they are unable to return this fall due to the financial toll.
The New Democratic Party took the official opposition as the Liberals under Kathleen Wynne crumbled. The NDP promised universal education and loan forgiveness if they were brought into power.
The Liberal MPP is running for the leadership of the provincial Liberal Party and, if he wins, will go up against Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath, who received a vote of confidence earlier this year, in 2022.
The Post also reached out to the provincial government and the New Democrats for comment.
‘Don’t give up’
Michael Coteau, the MPP for Don Valley East and a leadership candidate for the provincial Liberals, told The Avro Post in an interview that students should not give up because of the extended struggles that they now face.
“Don’t give up,” Coteau said when asked what he would tell students going through financial hardship, adding: “don’t let [Premier] Doug Ford and his vision for Ontario ruin your vision for yourself”.
As for what students can do in the fight to defend their education, Coteau said that there is two approaches. There is an advocacy side where students can “make noise”, for example, through student organizations, and a personal side: the impact of the changes to each individual.
The United Kingdom-born MPP encouraged students to stand strong and have “resilience”.
Coteau applauded the student unions and campus newspapers that are fighting the Student Choice Initiative, an aspect of the financial reforms introduced by the province earlier this year.
When asked about what he saw campuses doing to defend students, Coteau cited a “culture of fear” within the institutions themselves, including inside the public colleges and universities. ■
CFS, York federation sue province
Students get charged over SCI.
The Ontario division of the Canadian Federation of Students, together with York University’s student union, announced on Tuesday a legal challenge to fight the provincial government’s Student Choice Initiative, citing a lack of legal authority and bad faith.
The SCI, which was introduced by the Progressive Conservatives as part of sweeping changes to student financial life across the province, requires universities and colleges to have have an opt-out option for non-academic ancillary fees in place for the fall semester.
The legislation has triggered a backlash from student unions, campus publications and other post-secondary student groups since it was announced on Jan. 17 earlier this year. Along with it came a 10 per cent cut to tuition for domestic students.
“This policy is a direct attack on students’ ability to organize and provide essential services on campus,” incoming chairperson of the CFS, Sofia Descalzi, said in a press release from the national organization.
“It is a clear attempt to silence students’ unions and student organizations who have a long history of holding administrations and governments accountable when it comes to creating accessible, affordable and safer campuses.”
“We are filing this legal challenge on behalf of all students, students’ unions and student organizations, including campus media and student clubs, the province,” said Guelph graduate Kayla Weiler, the CFS Ontario representative and a former Central Student Association vice president.
“Despite its claim, the Ford government is not for the people and it is certainly not for the students. Students’ unions have been democratically voted in place by students and should remain free of government interference.”
The Canadian Federation of Students represents over 350,000 students in Ontario, including members of the York Federation of Students, one of the largest students’ union in the province.
“Students’ unions provide essential services on campus like food banks, LGBTQ centres and sexual assault crisis support,” said Fatima Babiker, York Federation of Students president.
“By deeming these fees non-essential, the Ford government is effectively saying that students and their wellbeing don’t matter.”
The organization revealed that the challenge was filed last Thursday and the Canadian Federation is hopeful this matter will be considered in time to prevent the full implementation of the policy before the fall semester begins.
Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber are united under the IGNITE student union, which is not part of CFS. ■
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