Sept. 14, 2012: Dr. Jeff Noonan & the future of public universities in Ontario; a brief report from the Sept 14 teachers’ rally

Click image for more about OPIRG Windsor and how you can get involved.

Listen to entire program here:

Last Friday we were still essentially in back to class mode and students  – and faculty –  were settling in and getting a handle on their course load and physical bearings – especially new students; and so too with elementary and secondary students and teachers. The liberal government has just imposed working conditions on the teachers, probably in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, since they have stripped away teachers’ right to bargain collective agreements. In the background to this is a move by this same government, through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to begin a process of change in post-secondary education. The ministry has produced a discussion paper which seeks to “…make our university and college system stronger.” Written submissions from student associations, colleges and universities and others will be accepted until Sept. 30 and roundtable discussions will be held, says the report, through the summer and into early fall. It seems time is short for public input, and this government has proven it has little need for others to have meaningful dialogue  regarding changes.

In the studio was Prof. Jeff Noonan who teaches philosophy here at UWindsor, and he recently blogged on the government’s plan.

Dr Noonan in the CJAM studio discussing the province’s discussion paper on post-secondary education. Click image to view his blog.

In this segment Noonan provides a passionate rebuttal to the government’s discussion paper. He ties this discussion paper to the recent Drummond Report and argues for a focus on “life value” vs. “money value” in public policy (See link below):

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I have to say that for years teachers’ unions have been huge supporters of the Liberal government which did repair damage done to the education system by the Harris regime in the mid and late 90’s. However, at the same time these same liberals have denied agricultural workers the right to organize, have kept a lid on the minimum wage after grudgingly allowing a graduated increase, keeps labour laws very weak and without meaningful enforcement, refused to raise substantially rates for Ontario Works recipients, has continued the neglect of affordable social housing, and so on. The McGuinty liberals have never deserved the unwavering support of teachers’ unions. And inevitably, when it comes to serving their real constituents, the liberals turn to Bay St. and the order of the day is AUSTERITY, so the teachers have been tossed aside. Some friends in higher places! Clearly we need a new way of doing politics and it has to have a focus on the most vulnerable and it has to include a critical analysis of what our predicament is. That means looking at the free trade agreements and the destruction of the auto pact to see why hundreds of thousands of jobs have disappeared in Ontario, and with them the tax base that kept government funding sustainable. Since the wealthiest are the ones who have done well by free trade it is they who must be taxed so that public investment in peoples’ needs can be met. Of course this will require a political fight and movement building on a scale not seen perhaps ever; certainly in many decades. Rallies and court challenges are not the answer. Organizing across union and non-union lines is, and maybe the merger with the CAW and CEP will give a boost to such organizing.

The various teacher unions, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and others, including our very own Windsor branch of the IWW were out on Lauzon Parkway in front of Dwight Duncan’s office last Friday showing their “displeasure” shall we say at the government’s stripping away of bargaining rights – clearly a violation of Charter rights and court proceedings will be underway. So out at the rally which is just getting underway, was IWW member and Branch Secretary Vajo Stajic. He described what was getting underway:

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Click image for more info and a video of the opening of the Space.

As I mentioned on-air last Friday, the university has a Multi-Faith Space downstairs at the CAW Student Centre. After the program about the Christian flag at city hall, and the division in our community such an action can create, I realized the Multi-Faith Centre is a refuge of sorts for all and the space can be booked by specific faith communities. According to the university literature describing the space, “[it] is provided to support the diversity of the University community within a context of pluralism”, which itself is defined in the pamphlet as “…not diversity alone, but the energetic engagement with diversity.”  It’s a beautiful thing!

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