Tb News Source
Web Posted: 7/29/2008 8:12:25 PM
The president of Lakehead University is vowing to continue the fight after a major blow Tuesday to the plans to bring a law school to Thunder Bay.
The McGuinty government has announced it will not be funding any new law schools in Ontario for the foreseeable future. Fred Gilbert said LU will carry on its plans to renovate the former PACI, but he admits that opening a law school in 2010 is no longer a realistic possibility.
When LU and the Lakehead school board signed the $850,000 purchase agreement for PACI last month, things appeared to be looking up for the university's plans to open a law school in Thunder Bay but the plans have hit a major snag. Liberal MPP Bill Mauro says his government has received advice that there are enough law graduates in Ontario as it is. Therefore, LU and three other universities will not get any financial backing for their law school plans.
The president of the Thunder Bay Law Association, Stephen Wojciechowski, says his group is very disappointed by the province's decision. He says Thunder Bay and other small cities are approaching a crisis situation with their limited influx of new lawyers, and he says the legal resources in the Northwest are slowly dwindling to unacceptable levels.
Gilbert says the LU law school would have turned out 55 graduates each year with expertise in aboriginal law, natural resource and northern issues. Despite the setback, he says LU will move ahead will their plans to renovate PACI will still proceed trying to achieve accreditation for its law school curriculum.
Eight years ago, Gilbert and local politicians convinced the province to reverse a decision and allow a full four-year medical school at LU. Gilbert says they plan to do it again and Mauro said he's on board to help LU reach its goal, as he pledged in his 2007 election platform.
But for now, Gilbert concedes that the chance of the law school opening as planned in September 2010 is no longer a realistic goal.
The province has six southern Ontario-based law schools and a new one hasn't been opened in almost 40 years.