Volume 96, Issue 73
Friday, February 7, 2003

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Western professor seeks local NDP nomination

By Shannon Proudfoot
Gazette Staff

A Western professor is hoping her background in post-secondary education will translate into a candidate nomination for the provincial New Democratic Party.

Rebecca Coulter, a professor in the faculty of education, is one of three women competing to be the NDP's candidate in the riding of London North Centre.

Coulter said she has a long personal history with the NDP and an interest in social justice causes. "I've been a member [of the party] since I was 13-years-old," she explained.

She said she chose the NDP because the party's views are the closest match to her own, with an emphasis on activism, compassion and social concerns.

Coulter said she received encouragement from students to run for office and represent their concerns.

"I'm a person known on campus for taking a stand," she said.

Coulter said she looks forward to challenging Dianne Cunningham, the long-time Progressive Conservative member of provincial parliament for London North Centre and Minister for Training, Colleges and Universities, on her party's education platform.

Paris Meilleur, president of the NDP London North Centre Riding Association, said she is pleased to have a Western professor running for the party.

"It's definitely a plus to have someone as renowned as Rebecca," she said.

Meilleur said she is hopeful the voting awareness among students will increase, regardless of who is the successful candidate.

Students are ready for a change, Meilleur said, adding she looks forward to an opportunity for the NDP to challenge the current government.

Andrew Bennett, a spokesperson for Cunningham, said he feels experience and leadership are important qualities for a candidate, in addition to awareness of educational issues.

"Certainly, post-secondary education is a big issue in London, but there are other issues as well," Bennett explained.

Second-year science student Arzie Chant said he felt it was important to have a candidate who is well-informed about post-secondary education issues, in order to represent student interests.

"I don't know that it will improve voter turnout, but the fact that someone in education has chosen [the NDP] speaks volumes," he said.

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2002 THE GAZETTE