Distracted PQ votes against party’s own cut to universities
PQ leader Pauline Marois speaks to supporters as she makes a campaign stop in Gatineau, Que., on Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2013 7:02PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 13, 2013 8:07AM EST
MONTREAL—After two months on vacation, the Parti Quebecois seem to have gotten a tad rusty in the National Assembly.
There was some embarrassment on Tuesday for the Marois government when one of the PQ’s house leaders accidentally approved a motion critical of cuts made to university funding by his own government.
The opposition motion was tabled by the two higher education critics in the National Assembly just after question period on Tuesday.
While only symbolic, the motion called on the government to “renounce budget cuts imposed on universities […] which will only translate into larger budget deficits for universities.”
The university cuts were announced on Dec. 4 when Higher Education Minister Pierre Duchesne summoned Quebec’s university leaders to the capital. Demanding $124-million in cuts by April, the directive caught the province’s rectors and principals off-guard, many of whom were still reeling from a tuition increase cancelled only months earlier.
Due to the cuts, university leaders have warned of deficits and cuts to student services. At Concordia University, a slim budget surplus was transformed into one of the university’s largest ever deficits due to the 11th hour cuts.
Fearing ballooning deficits and reduced student services, the Liberals and Coalition Avenir Quebec rallied together to criticize Duchesne’s decision with Tuesday’s motion. When the CAQ’s Stéphane Le Bouyonnec and Liberal Gerry Sklavounos tabled the motion, the PQ’s distracted house leader approved it.
When deputy house leader Mathieu Traversy tried to reverse his earlier vote, cast for his entire party in favour of the motion, the minority government was unable to find any support amongst the opposition to erase its error.
Despite the embarrassment, university bean counters will still need to find $124-million to cut.