Students not buying into rhetoric Mr. Hudak
Controversy has erupted over Premier Dalton McGuinty’s announcement of 75 new scholarships geared towards foreign Ph.D. students for $40,000 a year at a cost of $20 million for the province. The opposition, spearheaded by PC Party leader Tim Hudak, claims students are outraged by the government spending money on foreigners instead of Ontario students. Tim Hudak; thanks but no thanks.
Universities across the province are applauding McGuinty’s initiative as a good step in attracting the best and brightest the world has to offer. Little funding exists to attract students from abroad for our graduate and doctoral programs and Ontario is falling behind. In fact, the government of Ontario only provides direct grants to domestic students. The manufacturing sector is in decline; the future for Ontario is building an economy centred on innovation. Attracting talent from abroad is an important part of the innovation agenda. The president of the University of Toronto, David Naylor, pointed out that the Silicon Valley was developed in part from the ability of neighbouring universities to attract talent from abroad.
The opposition’s claim that foreigners don’t deserve merit-based financial assistance because they don’t pay taxes is absurd. Upon arriving in Canada they will be paying the same amount of tax the average university student pays who doesn’t make a taxable income: the HST. Furthermore, the aim is to attract them to stay in Ontario and contribute to our innovation economy. If successful they will be paying taxes for years to come.
It is not surprising that a party with no policies or ideas beyond opposing literally everything McGuinty has done (even conservative policies like tax harmonization) is trying to score political points off the backs of foreigners. There is nothing like a healthy dose of cheap nativist rhetoric to boost your electoral prospects in 2011. But, Mr. Hudak, don’t think for a second that university students will fall for it.