September 23, 2020

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Pallister accused of being 'control freak' on education

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang</p><p>Manitoba's opposition parties say Premier Brian Pallister's government wants to meddle in post-secondary education.</p></p>

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Manitoba's opposition parties say Premier Brian Pallister's government wants to meddle in post-secondary education.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/11/2019 (307 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba's opposition parties have accused the Pallister government of wanting to meddle in post-secondary education.

In its throne spech Tuesday, the Tory government explained the purpose of mandate letters that it plans to send to universities and colleges.

"In order to reduce waste and duplication in our education system, mandate letters will be sent to all post-secondary institutions that receive provincial operating funding outlining expected students' outcomes and financial accountability," the throne speech reads.

On Wednesday, Premier Brian Pallister said the letters will be their way in the "not too distant future."

He said leaders at post-secondary institutions, whom he has spoken to — including David Barnard, the departing president of the University of Manitoba, and Annette Trimbee, president of the University of Winnipeg — are eager to discuss possible mandate changes.

"I could tell you every post-secondary institution in this province wants to be relevant in its training focus. We want to make sure that that relevancy is enhanced," Pallister said.

The premier emphasized the provincial government wants to see bang for its buck when it comes to investing in post-secondary.

"We’re the most significant funder of post-secondary education in the province," he said. "We expect post-secondary institutions want to be relevant and want to have outcomes that benefit the people of the province who pay their bills."

NDP Leader Wab Kinew began question period on Wednesday by asking Pallister why he plans to worsen post-secondary education in the province.

Kinew told reporters later he doesn't believe the premier has a good grasp of what universities do, acknowledging they should be focused on preparing students for jobs of the future and helping them become better citizens.

"It should be the experts at the universities who carry out that work. If Mr. Pallister continues to interfere, not only is he going to harm the career prospects of young Manitobans, but he’s also going to impede their ability to function in our society after graduation," he said.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont accused Pallister of meddling in others' line of work, highlighting that the province helps appoint universities' boards of governors and can provide direction that way — not through mandate letters.

"Look, this is part of the premier being a control freak. He can’t help but put his fingers in every pie," Lamont said.

"He keeps trying to control every Crown corporation. More directly, he just doesn’t seem to realize that there’s a reason why all these things are supposed to be at arm’s length and part of it is actually to keep him from getting into trouble."

The University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg provided written statements about the throne speech's direction, as they await their mandate letters. Both schools said they look forward to conversations with the provincial government regarding the benefits and possible outcomes of post-secondary education.

-With files from Larry Kusch

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

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