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Letter to the editor...Major disappointment in debating politicans

Opinion | October 1st, 2007

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
I was quite excited to have all four candidates from the London-Fanshawe riding here at the school for a debate. I thought, “What a great opportunity to interact with all candidates without being encumbered by an excess of party supporters.”

Each candidate had the opportunity to introduce himself. Dan O'Neill from the Green Party shared with us that he and his party have education on their platform in the form of a tuition cap along with the environment and healthcare. He also impressed me by making a comment on the importance of students taking the time to vote as if will directly impact our future. The incumbent candidate Khalil Ramal is a Liberal party member and spent his introduction sharing with the students his personal history and what his government did back before 2005 regarding tuition. He did not give us any insight into the future views of his party. Steven Maynard the NDP representative introduced himself and began to touch on issues such as student debt load, student affordable housing, young families housing, student jobs available after graduation, discontinuing apprentice fees, and increasing minimum wage now.

Conservative Jim Chapman introduced himself as a former rock star and then made an offhand comment about how he was told the students want beer and free tuition. After offending the students who made the effort to come to the debate, Chapman went on to eloquently tell us the conservative government is nothing like the Harris government, and he will be not lie or tell us something just because it is what we want to here.

Now I could spend pages telling you how completely frustrated I was during this debate, but I want to spare you the agony. Instead I will go over a few questions and let you know how the parties responded.

Question: “What would you do regarding student debt? “

Green Party's Dan O'Neill said he would freeze tuition, tuition caps and a forgiveness program for students.

Liberal Khalil Ramal told us what his party did in the past and about dollar amount that were budgeted but not what the plan was on how to utilize this money.

NDP Steven Maynard, who is also carrying student debt said he want to have a tuition freeze, interest free loans, abolishing apprentice fees and ending user fees.

Conservative Jim Chapman talked about spending, taxes and John Tory and mention deferring payments in passing.

Question: “What would you do to prevent smog alerts in the future?”

Green O'Neill rides his bike and would invest in a better transit system in London, close coal fire plants and work on a rail system for inter community transport.

Liberal Ramal spoke but did not address the question that was asked.

NDP Maynard wants to close the coal plants, have alternative available such as walking, biking and bussing as well as encouraging green car strategies.

Conservative Chapman said better car emissions and closing the coal plants.

The first two questions are pretty standard and the Liberal missed one. The third question was asked from the floor, “What would you do to provide more full time faculty at Fanshawe?”

The Green Party Dan O'Neill stated that colleges are not here to make money they are funded by the government to educate yet he did not address the question.

Liberal Ramal spoke of what his party did on the past and that he meets with the college almost twice a year. He too, did not address the question.

NDP Maynard said that all workers should be unionized, treated with respect and allowed bargaining rights.

Conservative Chapman told a story of a friend he has that teaches at Fanshawe then said schools should pay for what you need and determine if the money is in the budget. Is this another way of saying he would do nothing?

In the end NDP Steven Maynard scored perfect having answered six-out-of-six questions that were asked. He also seemed to really understand a student's point of view and our needs in the long term.

The Green party's Dan O'Neill responded to four-out-of-six questions was focus mainly on the environment.

Conservative Jim Chapman, who did answer three questions, was so general and non-committal that even the president of the Fanshawe Conservation Club voiced her absolute disgust with his performance at the debate.

Liberal Ramal, although told us general figures of dollar amounts he did not actually address a single question. Somehow standing on the past performance of a government that did not keep its previous campaign promises does not seem like a strong way in which to present yourself.

Now I realize voting can be a real and true drain from a student social life, but here is a fact that I hope will make you think. If 50 per cent of the students at Fanshawe College voted in the upcoming provincial election October 10 it would give us the power to change to policies in Ontario and send a message to the parties that we care.

If we all vote for Steven Maynard it will send a message that we want answers. If you think it is not convenient to vote then by all means to the advanced polls the will be here inside Fanshawe college on September 25 in Room R 1042. How much more convenient to you need? Make your voice heard. If we work together then our voice will also have volume.

Yvette Thornton
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