Statement made on 11 May 2010 by Senator Robert Peterson (retired)
Hon. Robert W. Peterson:
Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It has never been more obvious that this government takes Saskatchewan and Western Canada for granted. On the issue of the First Nations University of Canada, this government refuses to address the concerns of students, faculty and staff who do not know whether they will have funding to offer classes next year. The uncertainty has proven to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. The President of the First Nations University of Canada, Shauneen Pete, announced last Monday that they have been forced to sell the Saskatoon campus.
The university's new administration has earned the support of the community, including the Government of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. The university has bent over backwards to address the serious issues that plague them, but all this government can tell us is that they received a proposal and are considering it.
The Government of Saskatchewan is firmly behind the First Nations University of Canada. On Tuesday of last week, the provincial government announced the signing of a $5.2 million funding agreement between the First Nations University of Canada, the University of Regina and Meyers Norris Penny Limited. Under the agreement Meyers Norris Penny will administer the funding and provide regular financial reports.
Minister Norris said:
This agreement is the result of the hard work of all the partners to fulfill their obligations under the MOU that was signed in March and I congratulate them on their efforts.
Honourable senators, while the federal government is thinking, an entire community is twisting in the prairie wind and the university is under severe stress and uncertainty.
Can the leader confirm that, in view of these new developments, her government will accelerate negotiations with the objective of a successful conclusion by reinstating long-term funding?
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