Prime Minister Stephen Harper took to YouTube last night to answer questions from Canadians.

At 31:29 in his online interview, Harper received a post-secondary education question.

“University students are expected to pay back so much money, plus interest, after furthering there [sic] education when most do not start getting a livable salary right after schol. [sic] Why is there not more assistance when it comes to student loans?” crazy4u79 asked Mr. Harper.

Mr. Harper spent the next minute and 15 seconds speaking in generalities and did not really answer the question.

“One of the things that is obviously a big concern to us over the past years, we know that younger people and new graduates have been particularly hard hit in the recession,” he stated to begin his response to the question. “That’s why we’ve introduced a number of specific programs in the last couple of years.”

I covered the 2008 Federal Budget for Maclean’s. The government did introduce changes to student loans, but they were administrative in nature and didn’t provide any substantive relief to student loan payees. The student loan system was broke both administratively and financially.

The government addressed a lot of the administrative problems and Mr. Harper’s administrative changes have helped make the student loan repayment process easier, but his government did nothing to address the overwhelming financial problems with the Canada Student Loans Program that destroys the lives of so many recent graduates.
Mr. Harper has refused to lower student loan interest, refused to increase the grace period for students to find jobs, and did nothing in the last budget to truly address the issues facing recent graduates.

To add insult to injury, one of the programs he cited in response has nothing to do with the question. The Prime Minister cited Pathways to Education as one of his government’s “specific programs.” The problem is that Pathways to Education does not assist recent graduates. The word “pathways” should have been a hint to the Prime Minister.

Mr. Harper’s record on the student loan file is weak and he couldn’t defend it. To use Internet lingo, his answer was a “HARPER FAIL.”

(Hattip to the Students Union at the University of Calgary for linking to the video on their Twitter account @SUUofC)