Ignatieff speaks - Macleans.ca

Ignatieff speaks

Liberal leader wants a dedicated transfer for post-secondary education


On the seventh stop of his cross-country tour of Canadian campuses, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was given a hard time by students at the University of Manitoba. Seconds after the leader of the opposition started his presentation, a massive banner was rolled down from the second floor of the U of M’s Drake Centre brandished with a list of challenges facing Canadian students. After a few minutes, Ignatieff asked that the banner be removed because it was blocking the view of several audience members.

Despite the disturbance, Ignatieff went on with the event, opening the floor to questions from students after briefly criticizing Prime Minister Stephen Harper for proroguing Parliament.

While speaking to the university crowd, Ignatieff repeatedly emphasized that the federal government needs to prioritize education. “This is the engine room of the Canadian economy, and we need to put gas in the tank,” he said.

Ignatieff also says he advocates implementing a dedicated federal transfer for higher education. Presently, the federal education transfer is lumped in with the Canada Social Transfer, and there are no stipulations ensuring the money is actually spent on education, rather than falling into general revenue. “We have to have a way as a country to say: how do we prioritize education?” Ignatieff said.

Ignatieff says that students are not only living through a recession, but living through a “restructuring of the global economy,” saying that this is one of the main reasons why it’s important for the federal government to invest in “brain power.” The leader of the opposition also indicated that some of the operating costs of university research should be met by the federal government. He accused the Conservatives of funding capital projects to build labs but then failing to adequately operating costs. “We need a national strategy that says this kind of research is crucial to our economic future.”

Ignatieff also says that this doesn’t mean that every research project should be funded. “We need to have a national strategy in which we say, not everyone can be funded here, lets get peer review, the scientists in the field to decide who should get [funded].”

While speaking at Dalhousie University earlier this week, Ignatieff cautiously endorsed distributing federal funding on a per-student basis. As is, the size of the education transfer does not take into consideration the number of students actually educated within a province. It is based on population.

This funding model could potentially hurt provinces like Manitoba, which takes in disproportionately fewer out-of-province students, while provinces like Nova Scotia that take in disproportionately more out-of-province students, would benefit from the change. Ignatieff also endorsed this idea in a pamphlet distributed to Liberal party members during his unsuccessful 2006 bid for the Liberal leadership.

However, when asked about a federal per student funding model at the University of Manitoba, Ignatieff dismissed it. “You’re taking me further than I think the Liberal party is prepared to go. . . We respect provincial jurisdictions in education.” Although, Ignatieff did leave the option of a federal per student transfer open, saying, “I think we should explore the question.”

Ignatieff is visiting 11 university campuses across the country this week to kick off the Canada at 150 conference to be held in Montreal at the end of March.


Ignatieff speaks

  1. Why do politicians come up with all these great promises that they know the country cannot afford it is so phony.With a world recession to promise all these things is typical Liberal elect me and i will never keep my promises but I will blame it on the conservatives.

  2. You can’t afford NOT to fund education. The only way the country is actually going to get ahead and be a world leader – is through having an educated population. How short-sighted, to complain that it can’t be done!! What do you want to happen – we end up a country of complete dummies?? Already, we’ve slipped behind. We used to have an average IQ that was higher than Americans. Now it’s lower, and sinking all the time. Wake up!

  3. Harper Resigns.
    Jean quietly retreats, or resigns or whatever the appropriate verb for the dismissal of her Majesty’s designed achilles heel is.
    Ig forgets tank, and minimizes gas, Sudbery rains, and shiny isotopes in canadian veins.


    Watch more protected power rain on. Pretend you’re not a commonwealth chartered colony, pretend the lore is just teen angst poetry, pretend the interest is not piling on the debt and this and that, Canadian air doesn’t like prorogues. Got it? Still want evidence? We could also, make Canada scandalous. Public shame might serve the anti-intellectual agenda, but you only have yourselves to blame.

    So no OR. No ifs and buts or else, back up.

  4. Turn up the volume on the easily impressed, get a fact check on that pesky doormat’s autotranslation.

  5. For all of you who continue this mantra about funding education.Take a look at your provincial budget and see where most of the cost is focused.It pays a lot of teachers who are poorly qualified who cannot spell or add teaching a bunch of kids the same thing.Ask anyone in business how many of his staff can add without a computer or spell words of more than 8 letters.Funding is fine supervision of it is lacking.How can some of the poorest countries in the world have so many fine educated people .China and India are not concerned about schools that are architecturally magnificent just the kind that work like we had 50 years ago or maybe class sizes .I went to school with grade 1 kids in the with grades up to eight we all learned to read and write

  6. Margaret, I would love to see the study backing up the claim that IQ in Canada is falling, or even that the disparity between Canada and United States is changing with time (I’m assuming you probably mean the latter, since the former is extremely unlikely due the Flynn effect). Considering that IQ is (mostly) a meaningless quantity anyway, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about this even if it is happening.

    I’m happy to see that Ignatieff is at least talking about the idea of a national education strategy, although it’s hard to tell from the context here specifically how what he is envisioning is really any different from what the government already does (eg. through NSERC grants).

  7. Pingback: College days - Beyond The Commons - Macleans.ca

  8. I heard michael ignatieff today at UVIC.
    I was most impressed with the “students”.
    Excellent questions and they informed him as well as persisted for a definite answer from him.
    There was little of his usual waffling.
    As one over 40 woman said: “we’re warming up to him.”
    Kudos to Engineers without Borders for their questions.
    Pot smokers were not happy. NO! he would not legalize mary jane.
    Ignatieff spent most of the time talking about the need for education, higher education.
    ‘Spoke of how his life was enhanced by education and the need for graduates to leave the country and work in other places.
    Abandon provincialism, provincialistic attitudes.
    Who he did not speak for , nor acknowledge for his wonderful life are all the people who EVERY DAY, 24/7 serve us for low wages yet allow us to maintain our daily activities.You know who I mean: cashiers, cleaners of public washrooms,those who maintain the hygiene of hospitals ,airport scanners, stockers of grocery shelves, fruit and vegetable pickers,packers,shippers,daycare workers.The list goes on and on.
    I heard nothing about reinventing a humanitarian economic system.
    I heard nothing about transit and mobility issues.
    I heard nothing about electoral reform.
    Get an education,eh!

  9. Google Michael Ignatieff. Less than a million hits? This guy doesn’t exist.