Professors, staff, students and community in shock to learn that Laurentian University in Sudbury is in bankruptcy protection.
The financial oligarchy put Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario under Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act
(CCAA) bankruptcy protection on February 1, 2021. The CCAA is a
fraudulent weapon in the hands of the most powerful oligarchs to secure
their private holdings in a property. The CCAA is designed to deny
workers what belongs to them by right, violate the interests of
the local community and broader society, and seize the holdings of
smaller unsecured creditors.
Laurentian University workers and others in the community are
demanding to know how a public university could even find itself in
this terrible situation. Many are demanding to know what CCAA has to do
with providing our youth with a post-secondary education. Laurentian
University is an important institution that is supposed to be
funded publicly to serve the common good. That such a crucial
institution of nation-building could be put into this mess is a
testament to how low the country has sunk under the anti-social
offensive of the last thirty years.
By refusing to build and fund the university in northern Ontario and
instead handing it over to the oligarchs to make maximum profit and
otherwise serve their interests, the ruling elite have in effect
prepared the conditions to wreck any semblance of nation-building and
the right to education.
Laurentian is the first Canadian post-secondary educational
institution to be forced into bankruptcy protection under the CCAA.
People across the country cannot allow this to become a precedent. The
CCAA attack on Laurentian is an opening shot against all public
universities in Canada to turn them completely into private enterprises
the oligarchy's thirst for maximum profit. This must not pass!
The notorious Ernst and Young, which has fattened itself for decades
on the CCAA at the expense of workers and communities throughout
Canada, will be the "court-appointed monitor" to divide up Laurentian's
assets and ensure that the interests of the university workers, staff,
students and community are blocked from even being heard.
Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz gave Laurentian
University until April 30 to present a CCAA plan designed to
restructure its operations and its finances. By issuing such a dictate,
the court showed its colours of not giving a damn about the right to
education but only in defending private property, which presumably is
owed a lot of money by the university. The justice authorized $25
million of Debtor in Possession (DIP) financing for the university to
borrow to continue its operations for three months. Under CCAA rules,
DIP lenders leap to first in line for seizure of property if their
debts are not repaid.
In his ruling, Justice Morawetz said the university was entitled but
not required, from the date of the filing, to pay "all outstanding and
future wages, salaries, employee and retiree benefits... pension
benefits or contributions, vacation pay etc ."
Justice Morawetz wrote later, on February 12, that Laurentian would
have the right under the CCAA dictate to permanently or temporarily
cease, downsize or shut down any of its business and operations and to
terminate the employment of its employees or temporarily lay off them
off as the university deems appropriate.
The court order is legal within Canada's civil society where
property rights deprive the people of the rights they have by virtue of
being human. This is the problem and dictate the people face within the
current Canadian economic, political and legal system. This is the
challenge the people face to affirm their rights such as the right to
their livelihood and job security as well as to education, etc. Only
the organized people have the power of numbers, social
consciousness and outlook to build the nation to serve the people and
put an end to these attacks on their rights.
For his part the President of Laurentian University who presumably
is supposed to defend the interests of the university, its staff,
students and the right to education, made an open threat in the Sudbury Star
on March 20 saying, "If we're not successful in mediation with all the
different parties and the recommendation to senate is turned
down, the university will cease to function as of April 30. It is not
an if, and or maybe -- that's when the money runs out."
Thirty years of neo-liberal anti-social nation-wrecking has brought
us to this: When no money is left to pay the rich, the financial
oligarchy will shut the country down.
Workers' Forum joins the chorus of anger over these attacks
on northern Ontario, the youth, workers, the right to education and
society itself. Administrators who are appointed to run a business not
an educational establishment should be replaced with those appointed
by professors and staff who are dedicated educators. Universities
should be organized and financed in a manner which achieves the right
to a higher education for all who want it on a modern basis. People
expect universities to fulfil a duty to the society and uphold
the right to education for all.
All levels of government must immediately increase their investments
in social programs including Laurentian University. All enterprises in
the country that employ Laurentian graduates or otherwise use the
thought material the university produces must immediately pay for those
services and value and together with increased government
investment put the finances of the university on a firm modern footing.
This outrage against the youth, workers and others in northern Ontario must cease immediately.
Take Back Laurentian University from the Hands of the Financial Oligarchs!
Stop Paying the Rich! Increase Investments in Social Programs!
This article was published in
March 26, 2021 - No. 22