SHEPHERD: Greedy university president lines his pockets while the surrounding town struggles
SHEPHERD: Greedy university president lines his pockets while the surrounding town struggles

Too many Canadians seem to have forgotten that greed is a sin.

Case in point: Cape Breton University president David Dingwall, who is so focussed on his own self-serving careerist ambitions that he is ruining the lives of international students and Cape Bretoners alike. 

Does the name “Dingwall” sound familiar? He’s the former Liberal cabinet minister who proudly proclaimed, “I’m entitled to my entitlements.”

Cape Breton University (CBU) was facing declining enrolment, budget issues, and layoffs until Dingwall dialed up the percentage of international students to more than 70% of the student population. International students pay higher tuition rates because the university does not receive government subsidies for their enrolment. 

The university then had to rent out the Cineplex in town because they don’t have enough classroom space, and they bought two buses to shuttle students to school because Sydney, NS doesn’t have the capacity to transport this influx of students.

“Who is studying at the movie theatre?” CTV’s Molly Thomas asked an international student interviewee.

“The Indian community is studying in the movie theatre… I haven’t seen any Canadian students at all,” he answered. 

One of Sydney’s food banks, Loaves and Fishes, serves 250 meals a day, mostly to non-Canadian students. This is not specific to Nova Scotia: at the University of British Columbia, international students make up 30% of enrolment, but account for approximately 80% of campus food bank visits. At Ontario’s Conestoga College, a campus survey indicated that 96.5% of food bank visits are by foreign students. 

The Cape Breton region has a severe shortage of housing, but Dingwall is content letting international students cram themselves into dilapidated units. One student from India died in a house fire last year – eight international students were living in one side of the duplex, and five in the other.

Oh, I should mention – Dingwall was compensated with a base salary of $392,893 for the year ending March 31, 2022. 

A CBU professor who spoke to CTV W5 anonymously said that “75% of the international students would have failed” if they were at a different Canadian university. The professor noted that the students have backgrounds as lawyers, engineers, and computer scientists, but “they’ve never learned English.”

The framing of this issue was strange: if the students should be failing, then fail them… no? But because these international students are a major source of the university’s income, the school won’t fail them, which contributes to poorer educational standards and academic morale on campus for all students.  

But as long as Dingwall can bask in glory when CBU’s annual report says that the university is a rapidly growing school, then no matter!

This seems to be a theme with Liberal leadership: ramp up Canada’s intake of immigrants and/or temporary residents to extraordinary, unsustainable levels, causing both Canadians and newcomers to experience a strain in housing, healthcare, and social services. But because the economic growth looks better on paper (whether those numbers are the government’s or the university’s), who cares!

We need to send this message far and wide: Canadians cannot find housing. Canadian families making average salaries are priced out of rentals that aren’t even nice places to live. Canadians cannot afford the groceries that would be maximally nutritious to them. Canadians cannot get their kids daycare spots, and sometimes they can’t get a school spot in their catchment. If you’re coming here from a different country, it’s not going to magically be a better situation for you. 

Beware of the types like greedy Dingwall who only want you here to justify their own cushy $400,000 salaries, while you live in a run-down basement with six other strangers.

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