The federal election that is expected on 19 October will be important for universities. The present government has made a number of moves that have upset faculty, students, workers, and even administrators, including:
• Reducing funding to the major granting agencies and tying new funds to research in support of private-sector projects;
• Cutting support for or abolishing a host of research-oriented institutions, including Statistics Canada, Libraries and Archives Canada, and departmental libraries;
• Muzzling government scientists;
• Avoiding evidence-based decision-making in favour of ideological commitment;
• Introducing sweeping legislation to combat ill-defined “terrorism” that could be used against critical voices within universities; and
• Bringing in legislation to tie up unions like ours in complex public reporting processes not required from any other comparable non-governmental bodies.
Like faculty associations across the country, YUFA believes it will important to try to inject our issues into the election campaign. For more than a year, we have been supporting the work of the group known as Scientists for the Right to Know, which is building a network of more than twenty organizations committed to getting federal public policy on issues of public knowledge back on track, and which is planning to raise such issues in the federal campaign. Our national organization, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), has conducted polls on Canadians’ attitudes to some of these big questions, and has found surprisingly high levels of support for a different approach to government science policy. CAUT is preparing an election-preparation kit for member associations. The goal is not to organize support for particular parties, but to get all parties to address the issues that concern us.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Federation of Labour and local labour councils are mobilizing member unions like ours to participate in election preparation events on the theme of “Time for Change.”
The YUFA Executive has decided that we need to begin preparation here at York. We are therefore calling for members to join a Working Group on the Federal Election. If you are interested, please send your name to [email protected].