Now the Grits have jumped into bed with the woolly-headed campus Marxists with a $7 billion promise of practically free education for low-income students. Though aren't they almost all low-income?
Sources said every student, regardless of income, would get some new financial help to defray tuition fees. But low-income students would be the biggest beneficiaries of the new plan, receiving up to $3,000 a year for four years.
Depending on the school and the program of study, that could cover the bulk or even all the tuition cost of earning an undergraduate degree or diploma. According to Statistics Canada, the average tuition fee for a university undergraduate in 2005-06 was $4,214.
Currently, under the Canada Access Grant, the federal government provides up to $3,000 to low and middle-income students to help defray tuition fees for only the first year of study at a post-secondary institution.
Mr. Martin's promised expansion of the grant program would cost about $550-million a year over five years and, sources say, would help an estimated 55,000 students.
It's unclear, however, whether co-ordination will be needed with provincial governments to ensure that students see the full benefits intended by the Liberal plan.
There have been complaints in the past that federal financial-aid initiatives can be negated by tuition and fee increases allowed by the provinces, who have primary responsibility for higher education.
Will this $3,000 a year go directly to the students to blow on beer and popcorn, to the university student financial aid offices directly, or to the provincial governments to dole out as they see fit?
Moreover, isn't it still just another subsidy by taxpayers who don't benefit from educating others, and by low-income taxpayers to subsidize even part of high-income families' childrens' education, if everyone gets at least some benefit from it?
The Millennium Bursary already covers up to $3,000 per student, regardless of year so isn't this just an old bursary under a new name?
In any event, this will not stop universities from raising tuition fees, nor will it keep students from taking on piles of debt.
If the Grits really wanted to relieve the student debt load, why not make them loan repayment income contingent, taken from a percentage of each graduate's income tax every year? Andrew Coyne has the right idea: if you want to make an investment in post-secondary education, treat it like an investment, and the returns will follow.