Generation Screwed debt clock tours Ontario universities

Student group visits Queen's to talk financial responsibility following contentious visit to Laval University

Craig Draeger with the debt clock at the corner of University and Union on Tuesday
Credit: 
Emma Sewell

Students walking past the corner of University Ave. and Union St. on Tuesday morning were faced with some daunting numbers, and a grim perspective on our generation’s financial future.

Generation Screwed (GS) is the largest non-partisan student movement in Canada, according to Craig Draeger, Queen’s campus coordinator for GS.

Draeger — who also serves as President of the Kingston and the Islands Conservative Association — explained that their mission is to ask for “financial responsibility and accountability from our leaders.”

An elaborated mission statement is blazoned on the group’s web page. “Past generations voted to spend more and more money, expanding entitlements and the size of government. They are leaving the next generation with the bill,” it reads.

As a part of their youth initiative for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, GS launched their third annual Debt Clock Campus Tour. The tour will visit 13 Ontario university campuses in ten days, beginning on Sept 7.

Upon arriving at each campus, GS unloads their national debt clock, a large digital clock that counts the ever-growing debt accumulated by the federal and various provincial governments of Canada.

As of Tuesday morning at 10:30am the clock read $632,625,869,426 in total federal debt, translating to $17,549 for each Canadian citizen. However, these numbers continue to grow by the second with updated amounts available online.

Draeger explained that “we’re here today to raise awareness and raise the alarm with the level of debt that our governments have taken on.”

According to Draeger, government debt is an issue that is going to affect everyone in our generation, because we will be the ones left paying the interest on it in the future.

“It’s time for all young people to demand ethical behaviour from our leaders,” Draeger said. “It’s unethical to saddle future generations with today’s debt.”

The interest alone on federal debt could pay for every student’s tuition this year, he noted.

As students passed by the clock, GS members spoke to members of Queen’s about the group’s efforts, including a ‘future generations’ protection pledge.

In light of the upcoming federal leadership race for the Conservative and NDP parties, GS is asking leaders to run only balanced budgets, to present a balanced budget within 24 months of taking office, and to begin repaying debt that presently exists, Draeger said.

While most of the tour has gone smoothly, GS was kicked off at Laval University campus during their first stop on Sept 7 for “unsanctioned activism”, according to the Toronto Sun.

The tour is set to end on Friday, Sept. 16, after their stop at Trent University.

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