Spreading message to all levels
By Mark Brown
Student representatives from the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations will sit down with Canadian Minister of Justice Anne McLellan today to discuss the issue of student mobility across the country.
"I am going there to listen," McLellan said. "I want to know what their views are in terms of the initiatives that we have begun in the government. For example in last year's budget, what they think still remains to be done."
CASA members are interested in speaking with McLellan because of her potential role in the McGill University lawsuit against the Quebec government.
McGill has taken the province of Quebec to court to challenge the differential tuition being charged to out-of-province students, said Nick Iozzo, VP-education for Western's University Students' Council.
McLellan said the meeting with CASA will be a learning experience for her. "What I want to hear is what young people need that they don't have to ensure they stay in school that they get the skills and they get the education they need to be productive prosperous Canadians in the workplace in the future."
While McLellan said she was looking forward to today's meeting, she recognized the need to observe the boundaries of federal jurisdiction in this area. "I'm going to be interested in what they have to say, but we have to acknowledge that education is primarily a provincial jurisdiction."
McLellan also wanted to hear more about the Pan-Canadian agreement on education being proposed by CASA, to determine new ways the federal government can work closer with the provinces. "If there are ways the federal government can facilitate some of those objectives, that's what I want to hear."
The Pan-Canadian agreement would standardize education across Canada by eliminating differential tuition between provinces and increasing student mobility.
CASA hopes to use the Pan-Canadian agreement on education to bring the provinces together through the help of the federal government, Iozzo explained. "The federal government is going to have to be the ones to bring things together."
Liz Carlyle, national chair for the Canadian Federation of Students, said the idea of a Pan-Canadian agreement is not a new idea.
"It's nice to see [CASA has] come around to this policy," she said. Carlyle added she would welcome the increased support.