Layton speaks at Western
By Jonathan Yazer
“NDP MEANS ‘NEW DOLE PARTY’ NOW.” Jack
Layton, leader of the federal NDP, was on campus Tuesday
to showcase his best Bob Dole imitation, albeit without
the pencil in his hand.
New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton explained the reasons
he should replace Paul Martin as prime minister yesterday during
a speech in the University Community Centre atrium, attacking
the Liberal party and outlining some of the programs an NDP
government would implement.
During his address, Layton portrayed the Liberal party as
fiscally irresponsible, in contrast to his own party. “NDP
governments have had fewer deficits as a percentage of the
years we’ve been in power than any other party, while
the most have come from the Liberals,” he said.
“There’s a new kind of arrogance in the federal
government — things have become sick. The Liberals are
throwing away tax dollars like no one ever worked for them,” Layton
On the topic of education, Layton accused Martin of inflating
student debt. “The average student debt load in 1993
when Paul Martin became minister of finance was $8,000,” he
said. “Now it’s up to $25,000, and a considerable
number have even more debt. This is supposed to be the point
in their lives when students break free, but instead they suffer
under a burden.”
He also expressed concern over the inability of some to afford
post-secondary education and further stressed his belief in
admission to university on the basis of merit.
“Those who go to college should be the ones with the
good marks, and it shouldn’t have anything to do with
the size of their parents’ wallets. We’re starting
to deny something that should be a right,” he said.
Rebecca Coulter, a professor of education at Althouse College
and former NDP candidate for London North Centre during last
October’s provincial election, criticized Martin’s
role in a roundtable discussion at Western last week. “He
was here by invitation only and students weren’t able
to get in,” she said. “The prime minister is running
Layton touched on a variety of global issues, signalling his
support for the Kyoto Accord and his disapproval of a continental
“Our focus is on the concepts of investment and building,
especially in health care, education and our communities,” Layton
said following his speech.
Yesterday’s event in the atrium was meant to promote
the campaign of Irene Mathyssen, the federal NDP candidate
for London Fanshawe who introduced Layton to the podium.
Mathyssen said she was looking forward to the time Martin
places an election call. “We’re ready,” she
said. “The [Brian] Mulroney and Martin legacies are not
Stephen Maynard, a third-year civil engineering student, thought
Layton’s words were inspiring. “Finally a voice
not just for students, but for anyone who cares about this
country, and change and real issues,” he said.
Noor Ladhani, a fourth-year medical student, explained that
she was not sure if she supported the NDP. “I wanted
to see what [Layton] had to say. There as a lot of substance
to what he said.”