Volume 96, Issue 19
Tuesday October 1, 2002

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Student to battle minister

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Deb Matthews, a Western student and former faculty member, successfully won the nomination for the provincial Liberal party in the riding of London North Centre on Friday.

While the pending provincial election has yet to be called, the Liberal party has now selected its candidate to run against current Member of Provincial Parliament and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Dianne Cunningham.

Matthews said she will get students involved in her campaign and plans to make post-secondary education a key point in her platform.

"It's a very important thing for me to [include students]," Matthews said.

The notion that people believe their individual votes do not matter is very distressing to her, Matthews added.

"A lot of the energy of the campaign is with students," she said, adding many of her former students, as well as her fellow graduate students have been volunteering in her campaign.

The upcoming double cohort is the big issue for the upcoming election, Matthews said.

"Not for those in [the double cohort], but [the minister] will come under the gun for how it is implemented," she said. "She has to be held accountable for the government and her ministry."

"I know Deb Matthews well," Cunningham said. It is easy to find out who the other candidates are, as politics is not a field where a lot of people are willing to run, she added.

"She'll have the perspective probably as a graduate student, not an undergraduate," Cunningham said.

"The issue for voters is [provincial] leadership," she said. "In our riding, people who think will be the best leader has always been the issue. Whether I like it or not, that's what it's like in this riding."

Who the candidates are is also important, Cunningham said, noting being the incumbent has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is knowing what the main issue is for voters, she said.

"It's great that someone who is still learning in the university system is running in the provincial campaign," said Josh Morgan, VP-education for the University Students' Council.

He added he hopes it gives insight to the issues that students face in post-secondary education.

"The USC will be non-partisan in its approach to this election," Morgan said, adding he looks forward to hearing what Matthews has to say on the issues.

"To all candidates in this riding, the USC will be providing students with the information needed to make an informed decision on post-secondary education," Morgan said.

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2002 THE GAZETTE