Home CommentaryOpinions The birds, and the bees, and the education fees

The birds, and the bees, and the education fees

by The Concordian February 7, 2001
It’s been less than a year since the PQ promised students that they would be pledging $1 billion to education over the next three years and already their promise has fallen through.
With modest surpluses projected for the next provincial budget, the cabinet has asked Education Minister Francois Legault to trim $400 million out of his department’s $10 billion dollar budget.
While the Treasury Board contends that this shouldn’t be interpreted as a budget cut, but rather as a funding formula that is not increasing as much as they had hoped it would, the budget squeeze doesn’t seem to reflect any steps towards fulfilling a $1 billion pledge that was made at the government’s youth summit
last year. The education department, however, isn’t the only department being asked to trim expenses from their budget.
On the heels of the Clair commission report, which suggested that serious funding is needed in order to restore some of the desperately needed infrastructure to a battered Quebec health-care system, the health department
has been asked to squeeze $750 million out of their $16-billion budget.
So where has all this promise of increased spending slipped away to?
Some may contend that the candied pledges that have been dropped into the mouths of Quebecers during the past few years were white lies based on party-related goals rather than being reasonable fiscal projections. Others may argue that economic shifts in the Quebec economy leave the province’s budgetary planning a
little up in the air from year to year and difficult to rigidly plan and predict
in advance.
Or rather, perhaps, there are simply more important areas of spending which have
come to the attention of our ministers in Quebec City; one’s which preclude health-care and education.
The PQ may seem to feel that there are more important provincial needs that require funding in this province in order to make Quebec taxpayers feel proud of their province and proud of their government. Zoos for example, are admittedly one area of provincial development, which would place high on such a priority list.
For some strange reason Deputy Premier Bernard Landry and his gaggle of party members have discovered that zoos in Quebec are distinct from those in the rest of Canada and therefore should be treated as protective sanctuaries for Quebec’s fish and fowl.
This would help to explain why the deputy premier so vehemently protested the federal government wanting to kick in an $18-million contribution to a new zoo being built in Quebec City. He was trying to protect any giraffes, which the new zoo may one day house, from the discomfort of feeling Canadian flags flapping
between their partly-Parisian necks. Furthermore, our knowledgeable deputy premier was aware of the little known fact that red is a colour that can provoke schools of goldfish to entering frenzied states of passion; lord knows what kinds of problems the red of visible Canadian flags could create within the
harmonious aquariums of any new provincial zoo.
On top of this, a zoo visit can be considered an educational experience as well a place of spiritual refreshment. This means that the new zoo should be able to cheer up the ill and educate scholars all at the same time. It can also be perceived as a good way for the government to compensate for cuts to health-care
and education.
Heck, what student in their right mind would ever risk suggesting more funding be allocated to the education department when government spending offers them the opportunity to pay student visitor rates at a zoo that’s only a metro stop and a bus ride away in Quebec City.

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