And the riding goes to...

Members of the campus political clubs make one last pitch for your vote

Not registered to vote? No problem. Just bring photo ID and a piece of mail with your address on it to your local polling station.
Not registered to vote? No problem. Just bring photo ID and a piece of mail with your address on it to your local polling station.
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Daniel Salvatore, ArtSci ’10
Daniel Salvatore, ArtSci ’10
Michael Paskewitz, ArtSci ’09
Michael Paskewitz, ArtSci ’09
Sam Yorke, ArtSci ’09
Sam Yorke, ArtSci ’09
Chris Horkins, ArtSci ’08, Law ’11
Chris Horkins, ArtSci ’08, Law ’11

Conservative Party
Daniel Salvatore, ArtSci ’10

I was asked to write a commentary on the reasons why you should vote Conservative on October 14th. Rather than focusing solely on how students will benefit, I would like to address something that is of a great concern to me.

Throughout the election I have had many discussions with my peers on their thoughts towards the Conservative party. It turns out that many of them have been misled and carry with them a negative stigma towards Stephen Harper’s Conservative party. The issues most discussed are the arts, the environment and the strength of Conservative leadership.

In regard to the arts, it seems that many students cannot look beyond a $45 million cut to arts funding and see that the Conservatives have actually increased funding for cultural development through Heritage Canada by approximately $400 million. The Conservatives are not against spending money for cultural development or social programs but we insist that money be spent efficiently and that the government be held accountable.

Environmental degradation is a predominant issue in this campaign and a problem that will not go away. Stephen Harper realizes this. First, an interesting fact: the greenest Prime Minister in Canadian history, as chosen by Elizabeth May, David Suzuki and other pre-eminent environmental officials and organizations, is Brian Mulroney, a Conservative. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have a realistic and attainable goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 per cent by 2020. This goal is not as extravagant as the Liberal’s or NDP’s but it is attainable—something that I cannot stress enough.

The Liberal carbon tax is a theoretical tax system, said to be revenue neutral and designed to reduce pollution. We all know this; there is not a study to date with sound conclusions proving that the carbon tax is of any benefit to the environment. Secondly, for the carbon tax to be revenue neutral one must have income. Students will be the hardest hit by this tax as we do not generate a lot of income, yet pay for heating, gas, etc. Without significant revenues, we, the students, will suffer greatly.

Stephen Harper is the strongest leader on the political scene today. He has represented Canada well on the international stage, holding our own against the Bush administration on softwood lumber and asserting Canada’s sovereignty in the arctic. You have seen him in action over the past three years and Canada has seen positive results.

Green Party
Michael Paskewitz, ArtSci ’09

“They’ve always said the pen is mightier than the sword, but the pencil is mightier still when you pick it up in your ballot box, you mark your X and you say ‘I vote for my future. I reclaim democracy.’”

—Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada Leader

Elizabeth May is calling on all youth for the elimination of voter apathy. Now is the time for youth to stand up to old, regressive politics and push for something fresh, for a party that actually cares about our futures 20 years from now, instead of just next week!

The Greens are immensely popular around the world because we are a global conglomeration of Green political movements in more than 80 countries. Green parties were not organized from the top down, but independently in many countries. Citizens from around the world have realized that we need to act to avert dangerous climate change, call for peace and understand the need to promote democratic values. Green parties in Germany, Ireland and Finland have been a part of coalition governments, forming progressive, ecologically-aware policy. Green politics has reached the forefront and mainstream in Canada, and we are calling for clear goals to help Canadians as well as the world.

We need to elect Green MPs so we can help students with your heavy financial burden. What can the Greens do for you? Post-secondary education should not be a debt sentence. Green MPs will work to forgive 50 per cent of a student’s loan when they complete a degree or certificate program.

As well, we are the number one party—as rated by the Sierra Club of Canada’s report on successful policies—to avert the climate change catastrophe. This will be accomplished through applying income and payroll tax reductions, along with the use of taxes on pollution, the results of such policies having been incredibly successful in Scandinavia. We must also have a moratorium on further tar sands development.

Finally, after the cuts to arts and culture programs by the Conservative government, it is all the more crucial to restore freedom of expression to film, music and other arts industries in Canada by providing more funding to them. We must eliminate legislation that would give politically-appointed censors the right to deprive films of the right to a tax credit if their content is deemed “unfit.” In this context, films by some of Canada’s most internationally celebrated film-makers, including David Cronenberg, would likely never have been made.

We desperately need to have a say on the decisions affecting our futures. Vote Green on Oct. 14.

Liberal Party
Sam Yorke, ArtSci ’09

In the wake of the Harper government’s slash-and-burn approach to social programs and funding for post-secondary education, it’s not entirely surprising that the Conservatives have yet to address student issues in this campaign. Indeed, the deafening silence on Harper’s part to the needs of students underscores the necessity of a complete overhaul of Canada’s approach to education.

By contrast, Stéphane Dion’s platform offers a bold solution for Canadian students. The Liberals will create an education grant worth $1,000, payable to any full-time student. This will coincide with the creation of a $25 billion endowment fund that will provide 200,000 needs-based bursaries of up to $3,500 each per year and 100,000 access bursaries of up to $4,000 each per year to provide financial assistance to members of groups that are traditionally under-represented in post-secondary education, such as first-generation students. While Harper continues to ignore Canadian education, Dion has placed student interests at the forefront of his campaign.

Moreover, Canadian students are tired of living in a country whose government policies are the laughingstock of the economic and environmental community. Contrary to their propaganda, Conservatives spend more money than other parties and still give tax breaks to the rich. We are facing a possible recession, and Harper has brought us to the brink of deficit. Only a Liberal government, who brought Canada to record surpluses after the last bout of Conservative mismanagement, is capable of providing responsible stewardship during difficult economic times.

Lastly, Stéphane Dion agrees with students across Canada that it is time to get serious about looming environmental threats. For this reason, Dion offers a bold yet simple strategy to change market incentives for industry and consumers alike: shift taxes away from things that we like, such as income, to things that we don’t like, such as pollution. The GreenShift taxes carbon-emitting fuels to discourage wasteful consumption, but returns all of that money to Canadians in the form of tax cuts and improved social benefits. Climate change is a problem that affects all Canadians and we need leadership that will take decisive steps now.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are not making any of the hard decisions that will be necessary to provide a sustainable future for Canada and prefer to ignore the issues that matter most to Canadian students. It is time to tell Stephen Harper that his tactics don’t work in this country. Vote for a greener, more prosperous future for Canada by electing Stéphane Dion’s Liberals in this election.

New Democratic Party
Chris Horkins, ArtSci ’08, Law ’11

In this election there are two clear choices. You can vote for Stephen Harper, who would continue to put the interests of Bay Street and Canada’s biggest polluters, such as the Alberta oil sands, at the top of his list, or you can vote for Jack Layton and the New Democrats, who will put students, the environment and hard-working families first. I believe our government should put the interests of the kitchen table ahead of those of the boardroom table but, evidently, Stephen Harper disagrees.

For those who believe the Conservative party is the only safe choice in unpredictable financial times, consider the facts. After inheriting a surplus, Stephen Harper has pushed our country’s finances to the brink of deficit. He has done this by spending big on handouts to big corporations, such as the $50 billion corporate tax cut at the centre of this election platform, his number one priority.

Meanwhile, ordinary folks like you and I and our families, have received little help. A few points shaved off the GST, a tiny cheque in place of proper childcare and billions wasted on a war most Canadians don’t approve of and Harper himself is no longer committed to winning. Not to mention the embarrassment Canada now suffers on the world stage thanks to Stephen Harper’s decision to withdraw from Kyoto and John Baird’s attempt to derail international co-operation on climate change talks in Bali. That’s not leadership; it’s pandering to big business and big polluters.

Jack Layton, as Prime Minister, would reverse that blank cheque Harper gave to big corporations, finally bring our troops home from Afghanistan and reinvest that money into the environmental and human capital of our nation. For you, that means every student that qualifies for student loans would get a $1,000 grant to help alleviate debt. It also means more funding for universities and colleges through a dedicated transfer tied to a commitment with the provinces to keep your tuition low. The New Democrats are the only party addressing the critical issues of tuition fees and university funding in their post-secondary platform. The NDP is also the only party proposing a rigorous cap and trade scheme guaranteed to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. These are critical times for our country, and we need strong leadership—not Stephen Harper but a new kind of strong. Vote for Jack Layton and the New Democrats.

Riding history: Kingston and the islands

Kingston and the Islands was created from the Kingston and Prince Edward-Lennox ridings in 1966.

According to the 2006 census, the riding has a population of 119,069, an average family income of $83,188 and a seven per cent unemployment rate.

Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, won in this riding from Confederation to 1878 and again in 1887 and 1891.

Liberal Edgar J. Benson, a revenue minister, finance minister, defence minister and president of the Treasury Board, was MP from 1962 to 1972.

Conservative Flora MacDonald, an external affairs minister, communications minister and employment minister, was MP from 1972 to 1988.

—Alexi White

Source: www.cbc.ca

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