Volume 91, Issue 78

Wednesday, February 18, 1998

aspartame pop


Cunningham shows students framework

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Diane Cunningham visited Western yesterday to listen to student concerns regarding national unity.

The consultation had an open format with Cunningham encouraging students to express their thoughts about the seven principles devised by Canada's provincial and territorial leaders called the Calgary Framework. The framework is intended to be a starting point for discussion amongst Canadians as to how to preserve and unite Canada into the new millennium and is the basis for discussions like this one occurring all over Ontario.

Cunningham said over 65,000 Canadian families have taken the time to fill out the questionnaire and the response from the public has indicated that the government still has much work ahead of them. "We are putting our efforts into improving the way our province works and working towards working better with our federal colleagues," she said.

The principle which sparked the most debate dealt with the 'unique character' of the province of Quebec. A concern expressed to Cunningham regarded how Canada can move towards equality amongst people when there isn't equality between the provinces. Others felt the label 'unique' was meant to be symbolic and is acceptable as long as this symbolism does not turn into special privileges for one province over another.

Pablo Frank, vice-president of Western's reform club, said a serious concern for Canada's future relates to minority rights. "Determining who or what is responsible for protecting minority rights might be the death of the Calgary Framework if it is not dealt with," Frank said.

Frank added in his opinion, the framework is a fairly good document and the problems he has with it are technical and philosophical in nature. "The government should not be in the business of legislating culture – Canadians are capable of protecting their own cultures," he said.

Cunningham expressed the importance of preserving Canada's unity. "Canada is very fragile. I don't think any government in Canada wants to be there if Quebec separates without knowing they had done everything in their power to prevent it," she said.

Although only about 20 people showed up for the consultation, Cunningham was optimistic. "Every time somebody comes it is successful. If I could give your generation any advice it is that there has to be more of this," she said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998