Volume 95, Issue 87

Tuesday, March 19, 2002
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UWO Tories blast PC leadership fund

Mustangs fall short in final

USC's future so bright, may have to wear shades

President Sinal gets some friends

St. Paddy's Day keeps coppers busy

UWO Tories blast PC leadership fund

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff

Western's Progressive Conservative club blasted the Ontario Tories' Millennium Leadership Fund yesterday, labeling it "unethical" and "dangerous."

Last week, The Gazette uncovered the details of the Tory fund, which is administered by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association – a provincial group in which all campus PC clubs have automatic membership.

It provides financial aid to young conservatives running for student government positions across the province and is part of a larger campaign by the party to see young conservatives elected to office.

In an interview last week, OPCCA president Adam Daifallah said the Millennium Leadership Fund, financially supported by Tory party members, was created to increase the number of conservative students holding office at Ontario universities.

Rohan Belliappa, University of Western Ontario PC club president and incoming VP-university affairs for the Honours Business Administration Association, condemned the OPCCA for interfering in student politics.

"The integrity of a candidate should stem from his or her critical thinking ability rather than using the crutch of an outside organization," Belliappa said.

Sean Kennedy, elections readiness officer for the UWOPC club, said the group does not support the OPCCA fund.

"I don't think there is a need, nor a place for political parties to be getting involved in student politics. It is really messy and in some ways unethical," Kennedy said.

Belliappa said the UWOPC's mandate does not involve backing candidates financially.

"Political intervention in student politics can get dangerous," he said.

In a January e-mail to club members, Kennedy encouraged young PCs to run for University Students' Council positions in the then-upcoming elections regardless of their previous political experience.

Yesterday, Kennedy denied any intention to encourage students to run simply because of their conservative allegiances.

"We try to expose our membership to politics – we're a political club," he said. "The purpose of my e-mail was [just] to encourage people to get involved."

Also yesterday, UWOPC club member Mike Liebrock, the USC governmental affairs commissioner and runner-up in this year's USC presidential election, said he did not receive any funding from the MLF to help run his failed presidential campaign.

"There are strict election rules at Western about receiving external funding," he said. "[Accepting donations] would be illegal."

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Copyright The Gazette 2002