Volume 97, Issue 3
Thursday, June 5, 2003

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Manley stresses education, says Martin just talks "generalities"

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

Emmett Macfarlane/Gazette
IF I LOOK DETERMINED ENOUGH, MAYBE MARTIN WON'T WIN. John Manley talks to student supporters in The Wave yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister John Manley stopped by Western yesterday to talk with supporters and curious observers about the ongoing federal Liberal leadership race and his vision of reinvigorating post-secondary education in Canada.

Speaking to a student-heavy crowd at The Wave, Manley – also the current finance minister – stressed the importance of a strong education system to bolster Canada's economy and enrich the lives of its citizens.

"The vision that I've been trying to talk about around the country over the last number of months is a Canada that is four things: intelligent, innovative, inclusive and international," Manley said. "A big piece of that puzzle has to revolve around education and access to education and learning opportunities."

Manley said his platform calls for the creation of a Ministry of Innovation, which would lay out a blueprint for strengthening the education system and act as a much-needed federal link with the Council of Ministers of Education. Coupled with a focus on early childhood education, post-secondary education, distance learning and lifelong learning, Manley said those objectives are key to making Canada an intelligent and innovative country.

Manley said his policy stance on education is clear, as opposed to one of his leadership opponents, Paul Martin. "I don't think that, other than generalities, [Martin] has said anything specific," he charged.

For Sheila Copps, Manley's other rival, he focused on their similarities such as their belief that education should be a right, not a privilege.

Asked about Canada's reluctance to join the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Manley said the lack of international consensus made it impossible for Canada to support the action. The disagreement on the conflict should not be viewed as a failure on the part of the United Nations, Manley argued, but instead as simply a failure of countries to agree.

The back room deal-making at last weekend's federal Progressive Conservative leadership conference was a very bad start for the Tories, Manley said. "It's undermined [newly-elected PC leader] Mr. MacKay ability to appear to be principled."

Supporters and observers alike were impressed by Manley's performance and ability.

Southwestern Ontario Youth Co-chair for Manley's campaign and former Western student Josh Morgan said he was convinced early on of Manley's potential as the future prime minister of Canada. "I've had the opportunity to lobby both [Manley and Paul Martin] and quite frankly, Manley gave better answers," he said.

Morgan said his involvement with the campaign stems from his firm belief in Manley's commitment to empowering youth. "I think it's important for youth to get involved in Manley's campaign.

Fifth-year film studies student Giovanni Paola said Manley has a lot of promise. "He seemed genuinely sincere – there wasn't political fluff," he said. "I believe he'd be a great prime minister."

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2002 THE GAZETTE