By Rachel Surman
A day after resigning from his position as Ontario minister of training colleges and universities, Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Glen Murray announced his candidacy for the Ontario Liberal Party Leadership on Sunday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
Entering the leadership race to succeed former premier Dalton Mc Guinty, Murray announced that his campaign will be built on ideas of renewal to benefit Ontario families and the Canadian economy. A key campaign focus is the “no-moneydown university or college tuition” policy, which will let students enter post-secondary school without having to pay their tuition fees upfront.
“Students cannot afford to pay anymore,” Murray said. “I am proposing an exciting plan that will finance post-secondary education in a new way with student loans, subject to income levels, and with tax benefits that will bring down the cost of education for students and bring more money into the system.”
Melissa Palermo, the vice president of education of the Ryerson Students’ Union, described Murray’s plan for universities and colleges as worrisome.
“There are plans for income-contingent loans, but there are none for the reconstruction of post-secondary education in the country,” Palermo said.
“If Murray wins this race and the Liberals are successful, the postsecondary education system will not be better prioritized or better publicly funded.”
Murray, a former mayor of Winnipeg, said these costly plans could still be achieved, despite Ontario’s $14.4 billion deficit. This will be done by turning current tax deductions into grants and promoting more productivity in government.
The Liberal government has taken steps to reduce the cost of postsecondary education, including a 30 per cent tuition cut it introduced last year, as well as the introduction of OSAP Express.
“We have introduced the OSAP Express and put everything online,” Murray said. “We have reduced all of the line-ups and saved students about four hours of standing in line. Now students don’t have to walk around with stacks of paper every year.”
Murray was also excited to be at the MAC, formerly Maple Leaf Gardens, because of the heritage and history the building holds.
“It’s also incredibly extraordinary because we’re all going to prove together that you can be a winner at Maple Leaf Gardens.”
As of Tuesday, Murray’s only opposition in the race is Kathleen Wynne, as the Don Valley MPP and former minister of municipality and housing resigned on Friday to pursue the Liberal leadership.
The new leader which will be determined at the MAC from Jan. 25-27.