FOR BRANT NEWS
Representing a riding where the presence of three post-secondary institutions has had such a positive impact, and having served as a governor of Laurier University prior to my current role as Brant MP, I have taken a keen interest in federal support for higher education since being elected in 2008.
That is why I helped co-found the successful Conservative post-secondary education caucus on Parliament Hill with my colleague MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South) just over three years ago. The caucus now includes 23 Conservative MPs, driven by a belief that there is a lot that we can do to support the institutions we represent. We meet regularly with university leaders, student organizations and post-secondary partners.
Through these meetings, it has been pleasing to consistently hear about how Brantford has come to be recognized as the ideal national model for revitalizing a community through education.
Additionally, our group travels to institutions across the country to get a first-hand look at campuses that are constantly evolving. University leaders are thrilled when we visit because they are provided an opportunity to keep the federal government briefed on current priorities and opportunities in post-secondary education, while parliamentarians benefit from witnessing a wide array of exciting plans and strategies employed from coast to coast to keep Canada on the leading edge of research and innovation.
The take away is often new ideas about how Parliament can support continued growth in our post-secondary institutions and how we as MPs can help support institutions in our communities.
For instance, our recent short visit to Olds College in Alberta left me bursting with ideas about the future of post-secondary growth in Brant.
I was particularly struck by the successful collaborations and community integration underway at the college. We learned about joint ventures involving the municipality, the local school division, the county, the college, the broader community and the University of Alberta to meet a range of regional needs. It is a model that merits a further look as our community plans for the future.
Our work has also helped to drive home the importance of supporting Canadian research and development to drive up productivity and maintain a competitive Canadian economy. These must remain priorities for our country given the realities of our aging population and declining birth rates. Many developed countries have trimmed their investments in research and development in the wake of the global recession and mounting deficits. Following suit would be an easy course of action for our government to take in order to balance the books.
However, it is good news for this country and our future that our government has chosen to go in the opposite direction and show leadership by continuing our unprecedented support for higher education.
Our 2012 budget included another $1.1 billion to directly support research and development, topping up the more than $8 billion our government has invested since 2006. Canada continues to outpace all G7 countries in research and development investments and this bodes well for our future.
Beyond these investments, our government continues to explore every avenue that will keep Canada at the forefront of cutting edge research and development.
We recognize that in the 21st century economy, international collaborations and partnerships in research help to create jobs and ensure that our workforce is ready to compete in the global marketplace. We also recognize that the time is now to establish these partnerships with rapidly emerging powers like India and Brazil.
In fact, Brazil recently announced scholarships for 75,000 of their students to study abroad for up to one year. This represents a tremendous opportunity for Canada to begin establishing these partnerships and our institutions want to host their share of these students.
That is why I will be joining a Canadian delegation this week, led by the Governor General, on a mission to Brazil to raise the profile of Canadian universities, build the brand of excellence in Canadian higher education and support new strategic university and research partnerships.
I look forward to a successful trip and will continue to work in support of post-secondary expansion in Brant and across Canada.
Success in this area will mean more jobs, more growth and more innovation for our businesses, researchers, entrepreneurs and communities.
Phil McColeman is Member of Parliament for Brant.