Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mike Harris Redux

In his ongoing attempt to resurrect the 'glory' days of his close friend and mentor, former Ontario Premier Mike 'the knife' Harris, young Ontario Conservative Tim Hudak has a not-so-new-idea. A man, I deduce, not given to a great deal of introspection or critical thought, young Tim has apparently come to the conclusion it is time to recycle an idea first proposed by Harris when he led the province, an idea even that ruthless leader somehow realized was going too far: tying funding of post-secondary programmes to the rate of employment after graduation. That, of course, is not to downplay the damage he did to post-secondary education, which saw funding fall by 21% during his regime.

But Harris' acolyte seems intent now to pick up where his idol left off and go him one better. In concert with the above-mentioned funding model, another part of Hudak's vision to 'improve' education is to tie student loans to the marks learners achieve in their course:

Financial aid for students should be tied to how well they do in their courses as a way of instilling “market discipline” and incentives to succeed, said Tory MPP Rob Leone (Cambridge), his party’s higher education critic and a former university professor with a doctorate in political science.

“We want a return on our investment,” Leone said, proposing that individual colleges and universities would be encouraged to decide how to structure student aid rules.

Market discipline and return on investment. Principles that have done so much for (to) our economy. And of course, with such a utilitarian approach to policy-making, the fact that the cultivation of critical thinking skills will be a casualty works all to the advantage of the reactionary right-wing that Mr. Hudak embraces and cultivates so fiercely.


  1. When it came to education, it is worth remembering that Mike Harris dropped out of university after his freshman year and then went to teachers' college.

    He lasted three years in that profession and admitted that he had organized one extracurricular activity -- a hamburger eating contest.

    Not what you would call someone who knew much about education.

  2. Not only did Harris know little about education, Owen, but his contemptuous policies amply demonstrated he cared even less about it.

  3. Further, OSAP is provided by banks and must be paid back with interest so I am unsure if they understand that the "investor" is the borrower and not the govt.

  4. A fine distinction that I suspect is lost on Hudak's Conservatives, Jan, who tend not to be 'detail' people.