Federal Conservatives’ anti-university attitude won’t fly

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When politicians target universities, they diminish hard-working students and professors sharing knowledge and curiosity—not some imagined intellectual elite. 
 
However, it appears the Conservative Party of Canada hasn’t realized that quite yet.
 
Last week, the Conservative Party distributed flyers around York University’s campus, featuring a photo of party leader Andrew Scheer and the phrase, “Because you can only hear the same left-wing talking points from your professors so many times.” 
 
The flyers—defended as a joke by Scheer—are worse than merely poor taste. More concerningly, they speak to the Conservative Party’s greater political narrative of disparaging higher education as an ‘elite’ institution.
 
Premier Ford’s provincial government has already hemmed in university communities with several of its policies. The Student Choice Initiative has targeted funding for student unions and their proclaimed “crazy Marxist nonsense.” Ontario’s mandate seeking to protect free speech on provincially-funded campuses denies post-secondary institutions autonomy.
 
Scheer’s flyers, despite claims that they were meant to engage with student conservatives on campus, demonstrate the lengths the party leader will go to in order to differentiate himself by aligning with his provincial counterpart’s worrying stance on education. 
 
It’s alarming to see such a clear bias against higher education from a federal party leader.  
 
Post-secondary institutions welcome contentious discussion. Last year, Queen’s hosted a lecture from controversial University of Toronto professor, Jordan Peterson, on the basis of welcoming different viewpoints. Free expression isn’t stifled on campuses; universities are conduits for informed debate. 
 
The party’s leaflets are insidious and harmful. Insinuating that students shouldn’t trust the professors educating them is an unnecessary scare tactic. 
 
Post-secondary institutions and their staff don’t spread leftist viewpoints to bolster the voter base—they’re apolitical educators. Imagining otherwise harms educational institutions. 
 
The flyers have greater implications than just an election strategy. They’re spreading misinformation about educators, universities, and the higher-education community as a whole.
 
Higher education has proven to be valuable to many students. A prominent political party shouldn’t be attempting to make Canadians wary of post-secondary institutions based on false propaganda. 
 
Discouraging students from trusting their educational mentors only harms their future prospects and their capacities to learn and grow. 
 
The flyers’ focus on defaming higher education and intellectual pursuits make them more than just a warning to protect free speech. They’re yet another reminder of the Conservative Party’s anti-education bias.
 
Post-secondary students shouldn’t be worried they’re being exposed to a leftist agenda in the classroom. Instead, they should be concerned about the implications of a potential future prime minister who appears to embrace his party’s growing disapproval of higher education. 
 

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