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It Is Finished… Almost

So the results from the 2004 General Election have now been announced, and those of us who care already know the basics, right? The Liberal Party managed to gain a minority government with the Conservative Party acting as the official opposition.

Except it’s not quite over. While the general results (http://enr.elections.ca/National_e.aspx) are not at issue at Elections Canada, there’s an official judicial recount (http://www.gc.ca/wire/2004/07/020704_e.html) going on in the riding of Jeanne-Le Ber between the Liberal candidate and the candidate for the Bloc Quebecois.

This recount is actually fairly important, because the results will determine if the Liberal Party must align with the Bloc Quebecois or the Conservative Party to get any legislation through. If the Liberal Candidate wins the recount, then the Liberal Party will retain their 135 seats — just enough so that if they can gain the support of the NDP and the one independent candidate, they’ll have a majority able to pass legislation.

However, if the Bloc candidate wins the recount, then no legislation will be able to pass without the approval of at least one member of either the Conservative Party or the Bloc Quebecois.

Another interesting point is that the party that lost the most due to our system of ridings and holding elections turns out to be the NDP. With over 15% of the popular vote, they only managed to take about 6% of the seats. No party had a larger difference between the percentage of the popular vote and their power in Parliament. In fact, the NDP are the only party that got a seat at all where percentage of people voting for them is actually higher than the amount of power they were granted. Fortunately, the new funding system put into place means that the NDP will be rewarded for their popularity regardless, in the amount of about three million dollars delivered over the next four years.

Incidentally, my choice, the Green Party candidate in my riding, came in a distant fourth to the Conservative Party’s candidate. While I expected that result, I’m happy to know that my vote means an extra $1.50 going to the Green Party over the next four years. Hopefully the funding they’ll gain from their 4% of the popular vote will be enough to tell the other parties that they may need to take another look at the values espoused by the Greens.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Thinking Narrow?

The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has recently commissioned (http://www.gov.nf.ca/releases/2004/edu/0629n01.htm) an investigative review of the public post-secondary education system in the province.

Unfortunately, looking at the planned scope of this white paper, it seems the province is completely focussing on educational institutions within the province, rather than on the complete educational system, which of course includes Athabasca University. This is unfortunate because it not only means their white paper will be an incomplete view of educational opportunities in the province, but AU may also miss an opportunity to bring distance ed to the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador. When you consider the very seasonal nature of most work in the Maritimes, and couple that with some of the long-term off-shore work that needs to be done, it’s clear that focussing on physical campuses will neglect opportunities for a good portion of your populace.

Hopefully, Athabasca University will be on the ball here and make contact with the two gentlemen who have been commissioned to create the paper. After all, the worst outcome would simply be that nothing changes from what they’re doing now. On the other hand, if the white paper gets expanded to even mention distance education, this gives Athabasca University a much better position to try to establish good working relations in yet another province.

Our University is currently operating under a Strategic University Plan that requires a growth of at least 10% in undergraduate enrolment every year, so when opportunities like these present themselves, we can only hope that they snap them up.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.

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