Students tackle election issues

OISE Open House

Arts, environment and interest rates are students’ big-ticket items

Leaders of the student political clubs debate the issues of the upcoming federal election Wednesday night in the JDUC’s Lower Ceilidh. Please refer to article "Students tackle election issues" in the News section for the whole story.
Leaders of the student political clubs debate the issues of the upcoming federal election Wednesday night in the JDUC’s Lower Ceilidh. Please refer to article "Students tackle election issues" in the News section for the whole story.
Onlookers watch leaders of the student political clubs debate issues of the upcoming federal election Wednesday night in the Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC.
Onlookers watch leaders of the student political clubs debate issues of the upcoming federal election Wednesday night in the Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC.

Student political leaders debated the issues at stake in the upcoming federal election in the JDUC on Oct. 1. The audience was mostly composed of students, and accordingly the debaters largely focused their discussion on education, the arts and the environment.

The Conservative Party’s decision to cut $45 million from federal arts spending has become a topic of much contention among Canadians.

Queen’s Conservatives panel representative Adam Hetherington addressed the Conservative’s controversial plan in the debate.

“We’re not against art; we’re against crappy art,” he said. “We’re against councils that promote art that no one wants to see. … The public decides what’s good art.”

Nick Kadysh, deputy campaign manager for Conservative candidate Brian Abrams, told the Journal via e-mail the Conservative Party would create grants to support students from low and middle-income families.

Kadysh said the Conservative Party is the only one whose leader is experienced enough to lead Canada through the current financial crisis.

“We also have a leader with a strong record, the only leader in this election with prime ministerial experience. He is a trained economist, and is the head of the only party with a serious economic platform.”

Queen’s Greens representative Michael Paskewitz, ArtSci ’09, presented his party as a fresh alternative to the established parties.

“We need to keep these old-line political parties accountable,” he said.

Queen’s University Liberal Association President Sam Yorke, ArtSci ’09, focused most of his attacks on the Conservatives and the effect Stephen Harper’s leadership has had on the political landscape. Yorke said Harper’s laissez-faire approach to environmental policy is threatening Canada’s standing overseas.

“We’re a joke on the international stage. … Stephen Harper was laughed out of the G8 because we don’t really take a stance on any of these issues.”

Yorke said votes cast for the NDP would return the Conservatives to power.

“This isn’t time for Jack Layton and the NDP’s socialist policies. … They’re the reason why Stephen Harper’s in power.”

Also speaking at the debate were representatives from PowerVote Queen’s, a non-partisan environmental initiative whose mandate is to encourage students to vote with climate change in mind.

Aaron Myran, ArtSci ’09, a student leader with PowerVote Queen’s, told the Journal PowerVote extends across party lines.

“When people sign the PowerVote petition, they’re saying that on October 14, the biggest issue that they’re pledging for is climate change. The Canadian goal is to get 10,000 youth to say that climate change is a major concern for them. … At Queen’s, within the first week alone, we had 783 signatures.”

Myran said each person who signs the PowerVote petition is sent information outlining each party’s environmental policies.

“We send people a chart with each party platform with regards to each party’s stance on the environment and climate change. It’s completely non-partisan.”

Myran said PowerVote campaigns are also being organized at six other universities in Ontario. These include Carleton, Guelph, Lakehead, McMaster, Ottawa and Waterloo.

Myran is hopeful this initiative will continue to raise environmental awareness amongst the student population after the final vote has been cast.

“No matter what they vote for, we want to continue to engage youth about sustainable development,” he said. “We want to continue to empower students through having their voices heard outside of the election process.”

The group will be canvassing around campus until Election Day, Myran said.

“What we’re doing at Queen’s is going to all the campus hotspots and from class to class,” he said. “We’re also speaking at the Kingston debates on [Oct. 7] as well to try to get our word out.”

On-campus events

To find out more about election issues, check out these on-campus events:

All Candidates Debate on Environment and Energy
Friday, Oct. 3
Biosciences Complex,
Room 1101
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Federal Election
Candidates Debate
Tuesday, Oct. 7
Wallace Hall, JDUC
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Live Blogging

The Journal will be live blogging from the Federal Election Candidates Debate on Tuesday, Oct. 7

Please see queensjournal.ca for updates throughout the evening

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