This week, in addition to our Minds We Meet feature that brings us an interview with student Carla Knipe (who we soon may be seeing more from as a new writer in The Voice Magazine), we are also fortunate to have an interview with none other than the current President of Athabasca University, Dr. Peter MacKinnon. Former student Bethany Tynes managed to get hold of him for a brief interview, where she asks him about everything from what brought him to AU to where he sees it going in future. And of course she tries to get some inklings from him as to what he thinks the recent task force report about AU’s sustainability challenges mean for the university.
Also this week, Barbara Lehtiniemi has the scoop on a little publicized contest from AU that’s offering students the chance of a free course. The Write Site is having it’s 10th anniversary this year, and in celebration they’re running an essay contest for AU students. The contest hasn’t been widely advertised at all, and the only place on AU where you can find reference to it is in the faculty of business. It’s not even being listed on the Write Site itself yet. Fortunately for you, Barb dug out the information and we’re putting it out so you can all get started on your summer essays.
The end of July also brings us the end of the nomination period for the six vacant seats on AUSU Council. In a strange twist of timing, it’s expected that Mr. Harper will also be announcing an election this weekend, and if he does, it’ll be the longest campaign period in the history of Canadian federal politics. This extra-long campaign means that the election expense limits are also higher, and since elections Canada refunds campaign spending within those limits, will cost us, as taxpayers, much more. Nearly 25 million dollars more. And that’s only if you don’t consider that the money they pay the expenses with in the first places is also subsidized by the taxpayers to the tune of 75% of it. This means that, during an election, every dollar donated costs taxpayers $1.75. Any party that claims Canadians should be taxed less while accepting donations is, therefore, a hypocritical party. Hopefully all Canadians will take this into consideration when deciding both to donate and who to cast their votes for.
This election (the federal one, not the AUSU one) is also going to be a little bit different because the Conservative Party of Canada has decided it will not be participating in the consortium debate, the only debate that gets broadcast on multiple channels in prime-time during the election campaign. Instead, they’ve decided they’ll be going to five (or is it six now?) other debates that are held on single issues. So rather than a potential prime minister having to show that they’re capable of handling all their files at once, they can compartmentalize. Recently, the NDP has announced that it won’t be participating in any debates that Prime Minister Harper is not present at. This essentially means that Canadians who wanted to see if any of the candidates can actually think on their feet are going to be denied that opportunity due to the political gamesmanship that’s going on.
Personally, I’m not impressed. I’m not impressed at any politician who would choose to avoid a debate. After all, the job is essentially to be able to look at the facts, develop a position, hear the concerns of those around you, and be able to craft a policy that satisfies as many as possible. When a politician is unwilling to debate, in any circumstance, they’re essentially saying they’re not terribly interested in doing the job. Enjoy the read!