$20,000 pay back time: reformers take aim at USC party
By Sara Marett
Western's Reform Club is asking the University Students' Council for a $20,000 cash settlement for using students' money to run a candidate in this summer's federal election.
In a letter sent to USC President Ryan Parks as well as The Gazette's editorial section, Reform Club President Patrick Callaghan states his purpose is "not to claim the money, but rather raise the issue of the Education Party and ask if students really need it or benefit from it." The Reform Club feels the Education Party of Canada was a farce and was created undemocratically, Callaghan said.
"It is a joke letter. We are not intending to receive the money and will not take legal action. What we want is the USC to set a precedent to not support a political party of any kind with students' money ever again," he said. Callaghan added the $20,000 the club is requesting reflects the amount of students' money the USC donated to the EPC.
"They went over the heads of the existing political groups on campus, which we found very insulting. They created a party out of the blue to run against us with our money," he said. Callaghan added he wondered why a referendum was not held to determine whether or not students wanted their money to be spent on this initiative.
USC VP-communications James Deans explained when Parks ran for the position of USC president, one of the major issues in his platform was to run a student in the federal election. After being elected, he brought the issue to council and the party, as well as its candidate, was passed by a majority of votes.
In order for a referendum to occur, it must be initiated and voted on by council or brought forth by a student with 10 per cent of the student population supporting it in the form of a petition. None of these options occurred and therefore the party went ahead with its plans, Deans said.
Callaghan explained it is the goal of the Reform Club to bring forth a motion to the USC to terminate the existing Education Party of Canada and to not give student money to a political party in the future. "It is throwing money down the drain."
Deans explained in order for a motion to be presented to the USC, it must come through and be seconded by a voting member of council. "A [non-council] student could, however, approach a voting member to bring it forward."
Callaghan insists current issues facing students can be addressed and brought forward to the government without the EPC. He said the party should be scrapped as Western students have other political clubs and belong to lobby groups who provide these services.
Michael Rubinoff, EPC candidate, said he is proud of what the party accomplished and students did benefit from the party's efforts. He said there will be a Town Hall meeting in the next few weeks to discuss the party's experiences and he will be meeting with Member of Parliament Joe Fontana to ensure he is bringing student concerns to Ottawa. He added the EPC will soon publish its complete budget in The Gazette.