Volume 92, Issue 44

Friday, November 20, 1998

go north


Educating messages

As student representatives for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations wrap up their second annual general conference, it is questionable whether they will effect any real changes.

Last year's conference was a great success. Many people, including Paul Martin, Canada's minister of finance, stated the federal budget was regarded by most as the "student budget" largely because of the efforts of CASA. But last year CASA brought more to the table.

Since students can be almost certain they will not see a repeat of the last federal budget, the question to be asked is whether anything useful to students will come out of this week's high profile meetings.

The discussions this year may have provided cabinet ministers with a clearer understanding of some of the issues concerning students, but few new ideas were presented by CASA.

While these ideas would be beneficial to students, they will likely remain only as something to be considered at another time.

For instance, one of the new ideas tabled, which involved removing the goods and services tax from textbooks, was quickly rejected as impractical at this point in time. Giving students a tax credit for their ancillary fees was also a good idea – but CASA did not leave with a guarantee the federal government has any intention of endorsing this idea.

Aside from some encouraging remarks made from these politicians, CASA isn't walking away with anything.

Although there is no way to know what impact this conference will have until the next federal budget is released or until the federal government starts to pressure the provinces to work together on eduction, for the moment these meetings appear to be little more than public relations sessions.

Conferences may be great for generating new ideas and have accomplished a lot in the past, but the opportunity for students to meet with such high profile ministers is a rare opportunity which should not be wasted – especially considering the number of pressing issues facing students.

It seems these meetings accomplished little or nothing.

While the CASA method of approaching the government has earned them respect on Parliament Hill, CASA now needs to work on their message to achieve real goals. If these meetings are going to be successful, the representatives from CASA need to construct solid proposals to be presented and stressed to the government.

We need answers and changes, not meetings and maybes.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazette.editor@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998