Volume 95, Issue 75

Thursday, February 14, 2002
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Prez candidates interrogated

B.C. kiddies not in love with Gordie C.

"Mom must be proud"

London's pain drain

Disguised as Tory, Gazette editor infiltrates debate

Profile: Chris Sinal

B.C. kiddies not in love with Gordie C.

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff

Students in British Columbia completed their second day of protesting at Premier Gordon Campbell's office yesterday in response to the government's decision to completely deregulate tuition in the province.

In Tuesday's throne speech, the B.C. Liberals announced plans to end a tuition freeze that has been in place since 1996.

As a result, tuition in some programs could go up by as much as 300 per cent to meet the national averages.

Jan Dunn, provincial executive representative for Simon Fraser University, confirmed yesterday morning that students infiltrated the Premier's office mid-afternoon on Tuesday and spent the night.

Dunn said that when staff left the office, the heat was turned up to deter the protesters from staying and passageways to the washrooms were blocked off, prompting female protesters to disperse to relieve themselves.

Dunn said those who left the office were unable to re-enter, however, most spent the night outside.

She said the protest started when a group of SFU students decided to deliver a "freeze the fees" petition to Campbell personally.

"I would think the premier would listen to the majority of people in B.C.. The premier has consistently ignored what the people in the province want – I don't think he's going to listen to us."

"What kind of democracy is this?" Dunn said. "When a government lies to you, your reaction is to protest."

Michael Morton, spokesman for the premier, said Campbell offered to speak with protesters on an individual basis yesterday, but he refuses to negotiate with them.

"The premier has made it clear that the tuition freeze will be lifted so that institutions across the province will have a say in how the university and colleges are run," Morton said, adding cutbacks have created long waiting lists and decreased the availability of popular courses at universities in the province.

Summer McFayden, B.C. chairwoman of the Canadian Federation of Students, said deregulating tuition will not restore autonomy to the institutions.

"I don't think there is any correlation between the quality of education and the level of tuition fees charged," she said.

Morton said "the authorities" will be dealing with the protesters, but he could not say if charges will be laid or if protesters will be forcibly removed.

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