Lakehead’s Student Union Launches Federal Election Campaign.
Leah Ching, Staff Writer.
LUSU’s Federal Election campaign launch was held in the Study on Wednesday, September 16, with spirited presentations from LUSU president Roman Jakubowski, and Rajean Hoilett and Anne-Marie Roy from the Canadian Federation of Students. The campaign launch set out to demonstrate to students the importance of voting in the upcoming federal election. Presenters highlighted the need to mobilize and boost student turnout at the polls, looking to build a team of dedicated volunteers.
With the federal candidates from the Liberal, New Democratic Party, and representatives from the Green Party in attendance, Roman started off with an opening statement about the purpose of the gathering. Tuition fees, part-time work, and climbing student debt were all issues outlined in his talk. Rousing student spirit, the LUSU president called for students to stand in solidarity during the elections campaign in hopes of learning about the issues and tackling them together.
Followed up with a presentation from the CFS, Rajean Hoilett and Anne-Marie Roy traced the need to make student issues a priority in this upcoming election. Beginning the presentation, the representatives showed the power that students could have if they mobilized and went to the polls.
One of the first issues discussed in depth was skyrocketing tuition fees. Having tripled since the nineties, tuition now outpaces inflation. The CFS called for federal government to play a larger roll in post-secondary education. “Canada is one of the only developed nations that has no clear goal for education,” said Hoilett.
The student debt crisis was further elaborated on, with the CFS advocating on behalf of a cost-neutral scheme as a solution; re-allocating federal funds into non-refundable loans for low-income students. This talk was followed up by a discussion of the high rates of high youth unemployment and the high number of students working in unpaid internships. As if these concerns weren’t enough of a reason to rouse students to action, the CFS representatives also discussed the lack of research funding for graduate students, the need to recognize treaty rights and increase aboriginal access to education, and the need to tackle and take down the Fair Elections Act. The issues didn’t end there, and Roy touched on the need to build consent culture on campus and end the high rates of sexual assault, reminding students that they need to be at the forefront of the election if they want to see any changes at the federal level.
Roman spoke to students living on Residence, reminding them that they can vote at Bartley Hall even if they are away from their riding, as their proof of residence will have been provided to Elections Canada. He also made a presentation about tuition increases and highlighted the fact that the federal government spends $17 billion on student loans, but also spends $30 billion on oil subsidies. “Tuition fees reflect government policies,” said Roman to the students.
First year student Political Science student Amanda Croft was happy to be in attendance and thought the event was very informative. Her only critique was that, “student turnout was abysmal.” She followed up by discussing student apathy with the Argus. “Why aren’t more Political science students at these events? If this, if politics, is what you’re interested in, why aren’t you more involved?” In the end, our presenters encouraged us toward hitting the campaign trail through education, outreach and action and looked forward to seeing volunteers sign up and help with the campaign.