February 3, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 68  

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Political clubs merge a lá parties

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

The recent merger of the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties at the federal level has spurred Western’s two campus clubs to follow suit.

The UWO Conservative Association had their first meeting last week to elect a new executive and discuss future plans and policies.

“I think [the merger] symbolizes a new beginning,” said the club’s new president, Stephen Yantzi, adding his main priority is to increase awareness of the club.

But Yantzi acknowledged some hurdles he may face during his term, which include improving the organizational structure and the re-branding of the new student political club. “It’s always difficult to build interest in the club and [find] new ways to get the message out,” he said. “We can do better.”

This weekend, the club will be able to stretch its legs at Western’s biggest student political event of the year. “We’re definitely looking forward to Model Parliament,” Yantzi said. “We expect to be in government.”

Rohan Belliappa, former president of the UWOPC Association, reported few problems, noting the merger had gone well.
“On campus, I can say I detected almost unanimous support among youth,” Belliappa added.

Some moderate conservatives may feel “disaffected” by the merger, he said, but added he does not anticipate them giving up their membership. “I don’t foresee any tensions,” Belliappa remarked. “I think what we’ve seen on campus is a model merger.”

Though the move was prompted by its federal counterparts, Belliappa saw the result of Western’s version in a different light. “On campus, here, it is an interesting reverse microcosm,” he said, explaining that the members of the former campus PC association dominate the new club’s membership, instead of the reverse situation at the federal level.

Last week’s meeting also featured former Conservative provincial minister of finance and current education critic Jim Flaherty.
“Congratulations on coming together; you’ve got to be proud to be Conservatives,” Flaherty told the assembled members. “It’s important to remember who we are as we move forward, federally and provincially.”

Flaherty went on to discuss his plans for provincial politics with the club. “I hope to become the leader of the Opposition,” he said, but then immediately switched tone. “I’m actually sounding like I’m giving a speech, and that’s painful.”



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