Michaels: Belittling tuition hike impact no way to start ‘family first’ gov’t

Just when the provincial government starts eking out a new good-guy/girl image, they spew some idiotic sentiment and my world makes sense again.

Just when the provincial government starts eking out a new good-guy/girl image, they spew some idiotic sentiment and my world makes sense again.

As post-secondary students from across B.C. rallied at the Legislature building Wednesday, the government issued a press release that explained away the two per cent tuition increase being protested as nothing more than the “equivalent of buying one less cup of coffee each week.”

Then MLAs trotted outside, patted the students on their heads, and told them to bugger off.

Fine, that last part didn’t actually happen, but it may as well have. And if I wasn’t feeling so generous with the onslaught of spring weather, I’d say it’s proof positive the Liberals are still unable to relate to anyone other than the typical upper middle class hip-replacement-patient—new family-first regime or not.

Thing is, if they weren’t so busy being dismissive, they’d acknowledge, tuition increases amount to a lot more than $90 a year, or a cup of really cheap coffee a week.

This year’s two per cent is the latest in a long line of hikes, and tuition has actually gone up by 200 per cent since the provincial Liberal’s got into power.

For students who grew up in families that can’t subsidize their education—which is increasingly the norm—higher learning is quickly becoming prohibitive and that’s not a condition any fit government should want to foster.

Worse yet, however, is that members of the government aren’t that bright, regardless of the fact that most of them likely benefited from a cheap, high-quality education.

One needn’t stretch far into Canada’s history to realize using epicurean analogies as a means to douse rational dialogue isn’t the best way forward.

Anyone remember the beer and popcorn episode from 2005?

“Don’t give people 25 bucks a week to blow on beer and popcorn,” said Scott Reid, Paul Martin’s director of communications.

“Give them child-care spaces that work. Stephen Harper’s plan has nothing to do with child care.”

While it sounded like a strong argument to me, the Conservatives puffed up their chests and people got worked up at the idea the government didn’t believe they were fit to deal with their own finances.

It wasn’t the case, as anyone who likes popcorn and beer knows, but it painted the old-school party as high-falootin’ and unable to relate to common families.

Even after apologies were issued, the image continued to dog the party.

Not a good precedent for B.C.’s Libs to follow—maybe even tasteless.

Kathy Michaels is a staff reporter for the Kelowna Capital News.

kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com