With Marois calling universities ‘overfunded,’ PQ line on tuition unclear
Published Friday, February 8, 2013 10:35PM EST
MONTREAL—With the Parti Quebecois’ youth wing meeting in Drummondville over the weekend, Quebec’s ruling party is communicating a confused position as young partisans push for a tuition freeze.
While Premier Pauline Marois told supporters on Thursday that universities were “overfunded,” the man she appointed to the higher education file was wary of taking any position only weeks before a provincial summit on universities.
“I can no longer answer to an approach and concepts that aim at nothing other than antagonizing,” said a clearly disturbed Pierre Duchesne, minister of higher education. “What Quebecers tell us is that they believe in our universities, but want us to solve this crisis.”
Duchesne was responding to the premier’s comments and a report published Friday from the PQ's youth wing that wants a tuition freeze until as many Quebecers graduate from universities here as in other provinces. Then the report called for a gradual roll back of fees until tuition is free
Opposition politicians say Marois' comments about university overfunding are a signal of the government's intentions
“When we start with the premise that universities and CEGEPs have too much money, just imagine the disastrous cuts that are coming,” said Gerry Sklavounos, the Liberal critic for higher education.
“If there are universities that are being over financed, it shows the discrepancies between some universities and others,” said Stephane Le Bouyonnec, the higher education critic for the second opposition Coalition Avenir Quebec. “A one-size-fits-all type of solution won’t work.”
Education funding won't be the only thorny issue over the weekend as the Drummondville summit is expected to see the PQ unveil details of its plan to work toward sovereignty. That could include an awareness campaign about ways Quebec would benefit if it were independent.
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, flanked by Language Minister Diane De Courcy, responds to reporters' questions at the legislature in Quebec City on Dec. 5, 2012. (Jacques Boissinot / THE CANADIAN PRESS)