Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ask a direct question, get a stock (and useless) answer

To his credit, Liberal candidate John Higham sent me a response to the questions that I had emailed him. However, in treating me like an illiterate boob, failing to read my email thoroughly, and not answering my specific questions, he has lost any chance of getting my vote.

Here is the text of my message to him:

Good afternoon,

I teach in the Canadian studies program at Mount Allison University, and have been keenly following the election race. Last night, I attended the all-candidates debate, but there was relatively little discussion of post-secondary education funding. I read through the sections of the Charter for Change, and still have a question or two that I was hoping you could answer.

Your opponent, Mike Olscamp, refers in his campaign literature to a commitment by the Lord government to provide more core funding to Mount Allison over the next several years. Does the Liberal party have a plan to reinvest in core university funding, and if so, are there financial targets set for this?

The Liberal platform also speaks of increased bursaries and grants to New Brunswick students to enable them to attend post-secondary education. Is the party also considering additional funding for merit-based scholarships to attract top students to our universities?

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions. Your answers will be of interest to both me and my students.

Higham's response to me this morning:

Mr. Hayday,
The New Brunswick Liberal Party is committed to making post-secondary accesible and affordable to all New Brunswickers. To that end we are committed to working with the federal government to establish a dedicated transfer for psot-secondary education.

Also to this end, the New Brunswick Liberal party will establish the NB Hopes Scholarship, as well as a grant of $2,000 to every full-time first year New Brunswick University student, as well as removing the assessment of parental and spousal income from student loans all in an effort to make post-secondary education more affordable to New Brunswickers.

The Liberal party will also act to insure that post-secondary education issues are continually examined by appointing a Commission on Post-Secondary Education.

Every single point in his email is specifically mentioned (almost verbatim) on page 10 of the Charter for Change, which I indicated to him that I had read. Nowhere in his response does he address my questions about a) direct core funding to the university, or b) merit-based scholarships.

This, of course, is the potential problem with encouraging voters to contact you directly with questions. You should be able to provide them with answers. John Higham did not, although he seems to be able to parrot the party line. That's not enough for me.

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