A year ago, to great fanfare and with some pomp, Ontario’s Dalton McGuinty Liberal government announced that Algoma University College would transform into Algoma University. The NDP post-secondary education critic, pointing to the then-upcoming election, called it nothing more than a campaign announcement masquerading as government policy.
The Ontario NDP’s education critic, Rosario Marchese called on the government to prove it’s committment to Algoma by immediately tabling legislation to create the university or to "Otherwise, leave election promises where they belong – on they campaign trail."
The political staff of Ontario’s then Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities Chris Bentley told me, in no uncertain terms, that the announcement was not an election promise and the government would quickly table legislation to create the university once the Legislative Assembly was sitting again. (Which, as coincidence would have it, was after the election.
I called the government last Tuesday to ask where the legislation was. They said they would get back to me. I gave them 48 hours to get back to me. The 48 hours came and went. I was preparing to run a blog post stating how much I look forward to a "new" announcement just prior to the next election in 2011. Luckily, for the government, I was busy with volunteer activities Thursday and never got to writing the post.
I received an email mid-Friday informing me that the current Minister, John Milloy, will be making an announcement about Algoma University College Monday at 1:30pm at Queen’s Park.
Milloy is not travelling to Sault Ste. Marie to make the announcement. Instead, he will have a video link to Algoma University.
It’s pretty clear that the government is scrambling on this file. This Minister has made a point of doing his announcements in person and travelling across the province. He’s travelled all over the place to announce new piping (infrastructure funding) and capital funds for new programs. You can’t tell me that the Minister would have planned this announcement to occur at Queen’s Park if he wasn’t scrambling to do damage control. It’s too bad for Algoma University, they deserved a Ministerial announcement to launch their new university. No wonder Northern Ontarians feel alienated from the province’s Toronto based government.
I’m going to give the government the benefit of the doubt after seeing attending the announcement. However, I do strongly feel the government should have made the announcement at Algoma.
If the government is guilty of anything here, it’s poor communication and issue management. They should have tabled the legislation immediately after the election in November.
I’m now working on the news piece for the announcement. I have to say, I’m really looking forward to seeing Algoma grow and to see them continue with their innovative programs. There was talk in the room of Algoma being on par with Mount Allison University in the near future, and that will be great for undergraduate education in Ontario.