On Campus, All Candidates.
Thursday, September 13, 20071 Comment
Through the evening, questions from the crowd were fielded by the panel. The first major item covered was the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system that is the subject of a referendum this election. The question asked the candidates of their personal view on the proposed system, not the party line.
Bob Senechal and Liz Sandals both expressed reservations about the proposed system while Karan Mann-Bowers, Ben Polley and Drew Garvie expressed their full support. Also, this question brought about the first verbal barb of the night from Liz Sandals directed at the NDP caucus.
Little barbs continued throughout the night on various issues from various candidates. The forum, with diminishing audience as the evening turned to night, took on issues such as funding for private faith based schools, energy and of course post-secondary tuition.
During the discussion on tuition, there was a huge range of opinions and ideas. On one end of the spectrum there was Drew Garvie of the Communist Party. Drew simply stated that tutition should be zero dollars. He then explained why it should be free. His example was that numerous other nations have no tuition and the system works well. he also said that Canadians need to stop comparing the education system to the US, and compare it to the rest of the world. On the other end of the spectrum was Bob Senechal from the PC, he stated that the PC party does not support tuition freezes, that it is important to pay one's own way through school and that the PC party would "better fund universities" and do so more consistently.
in the middle of the spectrum were the remaining three candidates. Liz Sandals listed off what has been done by the Liberal party on tuition since taking power. The audience seemed to cringe when she began her response. Due to her being the member of the incumbent party she was forced to respond to attacks on Dalton McGuinty as someone that breaks promises. She also stated the Liberal intention to provide a $300 stipend to each student to help cover books and technology at the begining of each year. She was met with disinterest when she stated that university is an investment in one's future and that debt is not as big of an issue as it is made out to be since students will get higher paying jobs upon graduation. When Karan Mann-Bowers was responding to the issue of tuition, there were shouts of "shame" from the crowd when she noted failure by the Liberals to keep tuition from increasing, let alone reducing the cost. She also conveyed a personal story about a Guelph student that didn't have enough money to get home from downtown as an indication that tuition is too high. "Students don't have enough money to eat! $300? how is this really going to change anything?" Last Ben Polley discussed the Green Party's position that tuition should be capped at $3000. He discribed how the Liberal government paid a successful company in Guelph $4million+ for the promise of making some new jobs. He said that this sort of trickle down idea doesn't work. He considered why give money to a successful company so that there might be a few more jobs so that a few people are better able to afford things when the money could be used to directly make things more affordable, like tuition.
If you missed out or want another chance to hear the candidates respond to questions, there is another candidates forum on September 19th at the Dublin Street United Church from 7 to 9 pm