Stimulus Needed

Natural Resource Minister Christian Paradis visits Concordia, where stimulus money has funded massive infrastructure projects. Photo Luc Cinq-Mars

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources unveiled the latest report on the Economic Action Plan yesterday at Concordia University, which has provided stimulus money needed to fund major infrastructure projects.

Minister Christian Paradis toured the Centre for Structural and Functional Genomics building, currently under construction at Loyola campus. Both the infrastructure projects and the stimulus plan are the subject of controversy both on and off campus.

“This university is certainly an ideal location for such an event. [The genomics centre] is one of three investments by our government in this university,” said Paradis. The other two investments are the Perform Centre and the solar lab in the basement of the Hall building.

“Concordia has benefitted greatly from [the Economic Action Plan], to the tune of some $80 million dollars of combined funding from the Canadian and Quebec governments,” said Frederick Lowy, Concordia’s new interim president, who was also in attendance. “This funding helps support environmental genomics, renewable energy technology, exercise science, and it allows us also to reinvest in our teaching facilities.”

Not everyone on campus shares Lowy’s enthusiasm. At a Jan. 21 senate meeting, Christopher Ross, a professor at the John Molson School of Business, questioned whether Concordia’s decade-long structural expansion has jeopardized the school’s academic mission. His comments echoed what many of his colleagues have been saying for the better part of a decade.
The interim report, the seventh so far, is also generating dissent off campus. The report says the remaining $28 billion of the $60 billion stimulus package will be delivered this year. But some of the claims made in the report touting the success of the plan are being refuted by the opposition.

“Close to 400,000 jobs have been created since July 2009, the strongest performance of any G7 nation—offsetting virtually all of the jobs lost during the recession,” said Paradis.
The Liberal Party disputes those numbers. According to a post on the party’s website, “New job numbers released last week showed that from October 2008 to December 2010, there are 109,000 fewer full-time jobs and nearly 300,000 more unemployed Canadians.”

The Liberals also point out that after taking office with a $13 billion surplus, the Conservatives have managed to create a $56 billion deficit in only five years.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 21, published February 1, 2011.