Sudbury

Battle over funding for French-language university leaves plans up in the air, professor says

The Franco-Ontarian research chair at Laurentian University in Sudbury, says the future of a French-language university in Ontario is caught up in political games.

Ontario government won’t reverse decision to cancel proposed university, even though feds offer funding

Serge Miville is the research chair in Franco-Ontario history at Laurentian University. (Roger Corriveau/CBC)

The Franco-Ontarian research chair at Laurentian University in Sudbury, says the future of a French-language university in Ontario is caught up in political games.

On Monday, the Ontario government said it would not reverse its decision to cancel a proposed French-language university planned for Toronto, despite a federal government commitment to extend funding for a team working on the project.

Professor Serge Miville says he believes the future of the facility is caught up in a "game of chicken and a game of chess."

"So first off, there's a game of chicken because the federal government and the provincial government are sort of seeing who is going to flinch first," he said. "And nobody seems to be flinching."

He says the chess reference refers to this being a federal election year. 

"That's how you have to understand why the federal government which has been having an absolute ball with the language issues since November, trying to gain some political capital on this front," Miville said.

He says the tension between the two governments when it comes to funding for the university puts its future in a "curious situation."

Issue will 'never go away'

"We're sort of at an impasse right now," Miville said.

"The committee still exists. There's still on paper a university, they just don't have the funding to create programs and they can't get programs to be accepted at this junction."

He says in the meantime, programs could be offered through other universities. But Miville says this idea has been around for decades and likely won't go away.

"Basically, a bunch of students at Laurentian University occupied the Parker Building to ask for this a long time ago," he said.

"This issue will probably never go away until its solved, ultimately."

At the end of the day, Miville says it will be students who want to access their education in French who are missing out.

"Who's losing out in this? The Franco-Ontarian community which is sort of being played around like pawns in a chess game," he said.

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