All Posts Tagged With: "politics"
Platform also includes ferry rate freeze
British Columbia’s Opposition New Democrats promised Wednesday to freeze ferry rates for two years while conducting an audit of BC Ferries’ operations, targeting a service that coastal residents have made a sport of griping about in the face of increasing fares and reductions in service.
The NDP released its plan for BC Ferries on the second day of the campaign for the May 14 election, including it among a list of platform promises that also pledged hundreds of millions of dollars for skills training programs and post-secondary education grants.
The Liberals immediately attacked the announcements, saying the NDP had already committed to spending $1 billion, which the governing party said was far more than the province can afford.
If elected, an NDP government would launch an audit to determine how BC Ferries can save money or shift resources to keep fares low and ensure the service is meeting the needs of coastal communities, said party Leader Adrian Dix.
If this province doesn’t grow up, I might leave
As a Montrealer of Greek origin who is fluent in Greek, French and English, I look at Quebec and all the incidents that have occurred in the past few months and I ask myself this one, simple, question: what the hell is going on?
But there’s another question Anglophones and Francophones should be asking themselves: why can’t we embrace bilingualism in this province? Why can’t we accept that Quebec is a province of two official languages and both will be equally represented from now on? Why do we insist on pointing fingers at each other and accusing the other side of undermining the other’s language?
Since the election of the PQ government, things have seriously worsened. The Office quebecois de la langue française found new life after receiving unnecessary funding from the provincial government and put it to absolutely no use by attacking restaurants like Buonanotte, ultimately making fools of themselves and of the PQ in the process. These are old-school techniques that the younger, more open-minded generation of Quebecers simply doesn’t appreciate.
Elections bring music videos, apps, streaming & more
Student elections are underway across the country. Increasingly, student politicians are turning to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get their messages out. On top of that, in an attempt to attract more students to polling stations, those who administer campus elections have also taken advantage of these tools. Here are five innovative examples from 2013:
1. YouTube music video. At Western University, Ashley McGuire, Blake Barkley and Jordan Sojnocki teamed up to run for the University Students’ Council executive. Along with a sleek campaign website and a detailed platform, the trio created a music video and uploaded it to YouTube. What’s impressive is that, since posting it on Jan. 28, the video has received 10,500 views. However, members of Team McGuire were not successful in their election bids.
2. iPhone app. Team Whelan (Patrick Whelan, Amir Eftekharpour and Sam Krishnapillai) ran against Ashley McGuire’s team at Western University. This team’s electoral victories may have been aided by their iPhone app. I tested it on my iPod Touch 4G. To my surprise, it ran flawlessly. Under the Get Involved tab, users are able to join the team’s mailing list, suggest an idea and become a volunteer. The team’s platform is also easily accessible via the app.
3. The QR Code. When campus election season comes along, buildings are plastered with posters. So how are student politicians attracting students to their websites? Simple! They’re incorporating Quick Response (QR) codes to their posters that make it easy to access their sites without even having to type in a URL. Apps such as ScanLife, QR Code Scanner and Optiscan use one’s phone camera to scan a two-dimensional barcode. Once scanned, the app brings users to the site. Sarah Lavers, Kelsey Marr and Anastasia Smallwood all ran for president in the recent University of Prince Edward Island Student Union election and incorporated QR codes. Smallwood came first.*
4. Blogs. Platforms such as Blogger and WordPress allow users to create blogs free of charge. Student politicians have seized the opportunity to communicate directly with their electorates. Candidates like Caroline Wong, who ran for and won the position of president in the University of British Columbia Alma Mater Society elections, used WordPress to create her campaign website.
5. Video streaming and recording. When organizing all-candidate debates, election officials will never accommodate every student’s schedule. In an attempt to make these debates as accessible as possible, election officials have taken to live streaming and/or filming the debates and posting the videos to YouTube. Free video live streaming websites such as USTREAMand Livestream allow anybody with a video camera or an iPhone to stream free of charge. The Argosy, Mount Alison University’s student newspaper, posted videos of candidate speeches to its YouTube account.
Brandon Clim studies political science at the University of Ottawa. Follow him @climbrandon.
*Due to an error in editing, this post incorrectly stated that Lavers came first and Marr came second in the UPEISU election. In fact, Smallwood came first, followed by Lavers and Marr.
It’s not really about the censorship
When Stephanie Wolfe banned her students from citing the Onion, “literally a parody,” and Fox News, “a biased news station,” she was not firing any kind of ideological salvo. This West Liberty University Visiting Assistant Professor was probably, like most of her peers, pressed for time and a little nervous about taking over for a full-time Professor. The syllabus contains typos, internet phraseology, and is generally slap-dash as students have come to expect from the necessarily distracted young paupers who now teach many of their undergraduate courses.
Though the school would of course assassinate the poor woman before letting her make a statement, I think it’s safe to assume she didn’t put up much of a defence of her offhand prohibition. She’s sorry, the school’s president is sorry, the syllabus is corrected, and Megyn Kelly got to indulge her passion for poorly concealed sneering. Shouldn’t we all be happy, now?
Anti-tuition argument never made sense to me
Canada and the United States are broadly similar nations mostly separated by public policy. Last year’s tuition debate in Quebec shined a spotlight on not only the difference in education policy between the two countries, but also on the “Two Solitudes” cultural gap between English Canada and Quebec.
As an American studying at McGill University, I have a unique perspective on the tuition debate, which is sure to flare up again next week during a provincial summit on higher education.
The average price of an American college education has continued to rise, with tuition at four-year private universities now averages $29,056. Ancillary fees like room and board add about an extra $10,000. Similar increases have occurred at public universities. In Canada, the average tuition is $5,581 a year. In Quebec it’s $2,168.
That difference may create sticker shock for Canadians, but in the U.S., unlike Canada, most students receive substantial needs-based subsides that reduce the ‘actual’ average tuition at private universities to just under $13,000. A great redistribution of money from richer to poorer students in the U.S. leads to average student debts that are surprisingly comparable in the two countries.
I had the misfortune of encountering the Quebec tuition debate very quickly after the start of my first year. Still acclimating to the new and somewhat colder environment, I read of the controversy in the campus papers. The sticking point was the former Liberal government’s planned increase of $1,625 over five years for an eventual total of over $3,000. Despite the hike being only $325 each year, the proposal stirred passions. A general strike was called and, at its height, protests numbering in the thousands were a near-nightly occurrence, especially after the passage of the highly controversial Law 78, which restricted demonstrations.
As an American used to far more expensive university tuition—even international rates at McGill were substantially lower than those at several of the universities I considered in the States—the anti-hike argument did not speak to me on either an individual or ideological level.
The Twitter generation is engaged and deserves a say
Should 16-year-old Canadians be allowed to vote? The Parti Québécois thinks so. Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, speaking in London, hinted as much following a quiet meeting in Scotland with First Minister Alex Salmond, whose governing Scottish National Party plans to lower the voting age to 16 for the country’s 2014 referendum on independence.
Members of Marois’ party have indicated their support for lowering the age to 16 in the past, and countries like Austria, Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil have made similar decisions over the years to combat flagging voter turnout. Considering young people are the biggest drag on Canada’s overall decline in turnout, it’s something we should consider nationally too.
Elections Canada reported 38.8 per cent turnout among people age 18 to 24 in the May 2011 federal election, well below the 75.1 per cent of those aged 65 to 74 who voted. Considering the under-25 set is told from the get-go that they’re apathetic, this isn’t surprising. Civics courses don’t help: I drudged through Ontario’s— a well-known online bird course at my high school.
Liberal candidate weighs in on language bill and free tuition
Liberal leadership favourite Justin Trudeau waded Tuesday into two areas of provincial policy, at one point even taking shots at the Parti Quebecois government, while visiting Quebec.
Trudeau offered his opinions on Quebec language legislation and on tuition fees, while also reiterating his promise to increase federal involvement in education.
He delivered speeches and answered student questions at three schools on Tuesday, two of them English institutions and one French.
The crowds were similarly large at every stop — but the level of warmth of the reception varied from one official language to the next.
At the English-language Dawson College students asked him to sign autographs and pose for photos after the event. At the French-language Universite de Montreal later in the day, he was grilled on the Constitution and one student approached him afterward to debate the subject.
His first stop of the day took him to his alma mater, McGill University, where he offered indications that a Trudeau prime ministership would be a marked departure from a Harper era defined by a hands-off approach to provincial issues.
Trudeau’s plan to enroll more Canadians misses the point
To read more by Colby Cosh, visit Macleans.ca
The Liberal Party of Canada held its third leadership debate over the weekend; you probably heard about how it led to an argument about the terrible things Martha said to Justin and what Marc said about what Martha said to Justin and whether or not there is actually anything in what Martha said to Justin… well, the news-cycle hivemind cannot help making things personal.
Something more interesting actually happened immediately before the debate, when Justin Trudeau published an op-ed on federal education policy—a self-evident attempt to deflect Marc Garneau’s criticisms of him for being a policy lightweight with no specific program. But I’m afraid reading the piece had me saying “If only!”
A Liberal Party led by me would make it the highest national economic priority to raise our post-secondary education rate…The Canadian promise, that if you get educated and work hard, you can guarantee a better life for yourself and for your kids, is being seriously questioned. Canadians are rightly concerned that their leaders have lost focus on the policy that is at the heart of this promise: access to affordable, high-quality education. So what should the federal role look like? It should be principled, specific and targeted at the overall goal of raising our participation rate from just over 50 per cent to 70 per cent.
Prof. Pettigrew on the Ontario PC Party’s plan
The conservative Ontario PCs have released a new policy paper on higher education. Amid the usual boilerplate rhetoric that conservative politicians trot out on such occasions was this little gem regarding student loans:
Decisions about who should receive loans and how much money is to be awarded should involve assessments of future employability and reward good academic behaviour. Rewarding good behaviour means not only making the smart and efficient choice about where to go to school, but also keeping students accountable for how they choose to spend the money the government is lending them. To maintain aid, students must demonstrate a minimum level of academic success. Too often, our loans and grants programs reward mediocrity.
It takes a while for the magnitude of what is being proposed here to hit you. When it does, you realize that the PCs are proposing twisting the student loan system into a bureaucratic nightmare of nearly Orwellian proportions.
What students are talking about today (February 13th)
1. The Queen’s Journal at Queen’s University is the latest to report on a very cool competition that promises to reward two Canadians with a ticket on a commercial flight that will blast more than 100 km into space. The Canadian competitors with the most votes on the Axe Apollo Space Academy website will join winners from around the world on a Space Expedition Corporation expedition sometime after 2014. If the flight doesn’t happen by the2017, winners will get $85,000 instead. Queen’s student Steven Humphries, currently 21st, got support by way of a Tweet from Queen’s president Daniel Woolf.
2. It’s not often that more than 1,000 people show up at a student union meeting but that’s what happened at the University of Toronto Students’ Union’s gathering on Tuesday. They were there to settle the debate over online voting, which has been pushed by reformers. The motion was narrowly approved by a vote of 575 to 567, reports The Varsity. UTSU president Shaun Shepherd and his colleagues are opposed to web voting while several of the college and faculty leaders who backed the motion are frequent critics of the executive. “I’m just so fed up with this school,” Shepherd said. Still, after an emergency meeting of the Elections & Referenda Committee, Shepherd added that “irrespective of whether or not we agree with them, we have to honour them—that’s democracy.”
Marc Garneau would extend grace period
Liberal leadership hopeful Marc Garneau is proposing to make it easier for students to shoulder record debt loads after they graduate.
The Montreal MP would do away with the current requirement that post-secondary students begin paying off their student loans six months after graduation, whether or not they’ve found a job.
He would give them an indefinite grace period, requiring graduates to start repaying loans only after they’ve found a good-paying job of about $40,000 per year.
Garneau, who is touting himself as the most substantive of nine leadership contenders, is to unveil his latest policy proposal Monday.
An engineer and former astronaut with impressive academic credentials, he has made building a more diversified “knowledge economy” one of the cornerstones of his campaign.
Bank robbers? Embezzlement? A former executive reflects.
Two years ago, I was a second-year student considering running for Vice-President Academic of the University of Alberta Students’ Union. Though I expected to learn plenty if elected, it was impossible to predict just how much I did learn on the job. If you are a student considering running at your school, I encourage you to give it a try. It could totally alter your life’s trajectory. Here are eight of the most memorable lessons I learned.
1. Unpredictability is just part of the job.
Unforeseen events can often get in the way of platform goals. In June 2011, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry plagiarized his speech to the graduating class, which packed my days with television interviews. A few months later, our executive learned that a student from the business students’ association was accused of stealing $27,000, so I did more interviews. Media relations wasn’t how I’d planned to spend my time.
#IdleNoMore, dumping Instagram & fraternity horrors
1. You’ve seen the #IdleNoMore hashtag all over Twitter, but do you know what it’s all about? Wab Kinew, Director of Indigenous Inclusion at the University of Winnipeg, offers his take in The Huffington Post. “It is a loosely knit political movement encompassing rallies drawing thousands of people across dozens of cities, road blocks, a shoving match on Parliament hill between Chiefs and mounties and one high profile hunger strike,” he writes. The hunger striker is Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat in northern Ontario. Kinew explains where the meme started and says the movement is about engaging youth, finding meaning, rights, the environment and democracy. His summary is worth reading. Also worth reading is The Charlatan‘s coverage of Carleton University’s panel discussion on the Indian Act with the Assembly of First Nations.
2. A lot of Canadians are deleting their Instagram accounts. The addictive photo-sharing service has changed its terms of service to allow it to sell users photos and data. “…you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you,” reads the new terms. The Guardian says it will give a boost to Yahoo-owned Flickr, which just launched a mobile app that doesn’t sell your photos.
Student group seems distracted and afraid of transparency
What do the War of 1812, the Israel-Gaza conflict and bottled water have in common? They are causes the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) decided, on the closing evening of the semi-annual general meeting (AGM), to campaign about. How odd for organization that’s supposed to be focused on student issues.
During that Nov. 30 meeting in Ottawa, the CFS voted to organize letter-writing campaigns against the Harper government’s representation of 1812 and its opposition to Palestine’s observer status at the United Nations. This came after hours of debate on transparency and openness—two areas the CFS would do well to improve on. Some of the measures that would improve openness and transparency were, unfortunately, rejected.
The Canadian Federation of Students, funded by mandatory student fees from dozens of universities and colleges, is meant to represent students on issues like tuition. The fact that these non-student (albeit important) issues take up so much of their time shows the CFS may have lost its way. Worse, students may have no idea what the CFS is up to because it seems to fear transparency.
Andrew Scheer’s university advice
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here’s advice from Andrew Scheer, the 33-year-old Member of Parliament for Regina—Qu’Appelle and Speaker of the House of Commons.
I always had an interest in politics, so I took several political science courses while pursuing a history degree at the University of Ottawa. I moved to Regina to get married (my wife had moved back home there), and I took my last few credits at the University of Regina.
I really enjoyed first year. In university you get to meet hundreds of other young people with similar passions. Solving the world’s problems in the campus pub, volunteering during provincial or federal elections and participating in student associations were not only fun, but very educational.
More Quebec protests, oil debate & democracy at U of T
1. It’s that time of the month again. Several thousand students marched in Montreal Thursday to demand free tuition, despite already winning frozen tuition from the Parti Quebecois government. The demonstration was supported by the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, whose now-disbanded CLASSE wing was considered the most radical student group during the protests that shut down campuses earlier this year. Speaking of shutting down campuses, some students blocked certain entrances to the Université du Québec à Montréal on Thursday, reports the Montreal Gazette.
2. The University of Toronto Students’ Union’s annual general meeting drew a lot of angry voters who refused to approve the agenda at the beginning of Thursday’s meeting. While most AGMs are poorly attended, students waited in line for hours to get in to this one. Sam Greene, who heads of Trinity College, urged members to not approve the agenda unless the UTSU considers electoral reforms. Corey Scott, vice-president internal for UTSU, told The Varsity that the way students vote showed their “privilege.”
3. There is support among some of Canada’s premiers to ship Alberta oil to Eastern Canada. Two men whose provinces don’t have much oil themselves, Manitoba’s Greg Selinger and Nova Scotia’s Darrell Dexter, say they are interested, and Alberta’s Alison Redford and Quebec’s Pauline Marois agreed Thursday to examine the benefits and environmental effects of such a project.
Drake graduates, Sandy kills, & good news for graduates
1. At least 17 people died due to Superstorm Sandy, which came ashore in New Jersey and spread across eastern North America Monday, knocking out power in many places, including parts of New York City. It was a serious storm with sad consequences for many, but that didn’t stop students at shut-down U.S. colleges from celebrating their “hurrication.” Here in Canada, at least one person was killed when a piece of a Staples store sign in Toronto came lose and struck a woman standing underneath. Classes were cancelled on Monday evening at Brock University and Niagara College, but both reopened on Tuesday. Many flights are cancelled today.
2. Drake, the much-loved and occasionally hated Canadian rap superstar, is making headlines for the high school graduation speech he gave this weekend Jarvis Collegiate Institute in Toronto. The 26-year-old dropped out of school at age 15 to pursue an acting job with Degrassi: The Next Generation. He said on Sunday that the lack of diploma left a “gaping hole” in his life, so he spent the past five months finishing the work. Why would a millionaire want to finish high school? “This is about the art of following through,” he told the crowd.
3. A Republican student group at an Ohio university has apologized for using the song Fake Empire by The National in a pro-Romney video they posted on YouTube. This after frontman Matt Berninger posted a testy response: “We encourage all students to educate themselves about the differences between the inclusive, pro-social, compassionate, forward-thinking policies of President Obama and the self-serving politics of the neo-conservative movement and Mitt Romney.”
Poll results from University of Alberta’s China Institute
Albertans are wary of Chinese investment in the province — especially full ownership of Alberta companies, according to a survey released Wednesday.
The University of Alberta’s China Institute polled 1,210 people just days before China National Offshore Oil Co. announced its controversial $15.1-billion deal in late July to take over Calgary-based Nexen Inc. (TSX:NXY).
“On balance, it’s a mix of positive negative. Albertans are quite conflicted in their views of China,” said institute director Gordon Houlden in an interview.
The survey, which is conducted annually, found 37 per cent of those polled agreed partial Chinese investment in Alberta is acceptable, with 36 per cent disagreeing and 27 per cent undecided.
Hot dog vendor (and convict) is running for city council
Students know him as The Dawg Father, PhD (professional hot dogger), and while they may not all eat from his eponymous grill at Dalhousie University, they know Jerry Anthony Reddick. The man has become a minor celebrity among students at Halifax’s universities.
This fall, The Dawg Father has cooked up something new: a plan to get elected to city council by campaigning on student issues, like the cost of education and affordable housing.
The timing seems ripe. On Saturday, for the first time in Halifax’s history, the majority of the city’s 35,000 post-secondary students will be eligible to vote in municipal elections.
While some on campus would welcome an advocate on city council, others are wary. With ten criminal convictions, The Dawg Father has a history of clashing with Halifax law enforcement, which he details on his website where he says he owes the city more than $80,000 for traffic tickets and also asserts that the “po-po” have “evil intentions” for him due to “systemic racism.”
An actress attacked, a student shot dead & a capella
1. Actress Stacey Dash, known best for her role in the 1990s TV show Clueless, has been attacked on Twitter for endorsing Republican Mitt Romney. As an African American woman, apparently she is supposed to support Barack Obama like the rest of Hollywood. Referencing Martin Luther King Jr., she told CNN that she chose Romney “not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character.” She also cites economic reasons. Is she talking about how all this publicity will affect her personal economics? Either way, people should lay off.
2. A University of South Alabama student who was fatally shot by a campus police officer after being seen nude on campus had taken the drug LSD. Police also allege Gil Collar, 18, had assaulted two people and attempted to bite a woman.
3. The Nobel Prizes are announced this week. One winner was told by a teacher in 1949 that his dreams of science were “ridiculous.” John Gurdon’s instructor wrote the following on his report card: “If he can’t learn simple biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be sheer waste of time, both on his part, and of those who have to teach him.”