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University proposed potential southwestern Ontario expansion in 2012 strategy document

Adam Feibel | Fulcrum Staff

A MEMBER OF Provincial Parliament in southwestern Ontario is lobbying the University of Ottawa to put a new campus in his riding.

The U of O is currently looking at options to expand into southwestern Ontario. Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton recently wrote to U of O president Allan Rock to explain why his riding would be a suitable area for expansion.

“It is my strong belief that the University of Ottawa will find not only a suitable location for your upcoming expansion, but also a pool of highly motivated and talented prospective students,” McNaughton wrote.

The request comes in response to a university strategy document sent to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

“We are examining the possibility of creating a satellite campus in South-Western Ontario, where the growth in the Francophone community is strongest and French-language postsecondary education is unavailable,” the document states.

“We are uniquely equipped both technologically and pedagogically among Ontario universities to contribute meaningfully to the store of French-language and bilingual content online, available for distance education or as an open resource.”

The university has not provided an update on the possible expansion since the strategy document was published last fall.

François Boileau, Ontario’s French language services commissioner, noted in a report published in June 2012 that only five of the 21 post-secondary institutions in the region offer French-language programs.

“With the rapid growth of Central-Southwestern Ontario’s Francophone population, it is more critical than ever to remedy the insufficient number of colleges and universities in that region that offer French-language programs and services,” said Boileau.

The Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding covers more than 6,400 square kilometres east of Sarnia, Ont., west of London, and extending southwest to Lake St. Clair near the United States border.

Southwestern Ontario is home to more than 100,000 bilingual Canadians and roughly 118,000 French speakers.

According to a press release on McNaughton’s website, many of these people are residents in his riding and a bilingual campus in the area could fill an important niche between Western University in London and the U of O’s satellite program with the faculty of education at the University of Windsor.

“There’s a lot of exciting things happening in Southwestern Ontario, it’s no wonder the University of Ottawa would look to capitalize on this,” McNaughton wrote to Rock.

The university has not yet responded to McNaughton’s letter.