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Emilie Medland-Marchen

Political student clubs plan fall debate

By Scott Strasser, July 19 2016 —

Their political beliefs may vary,  but three student clubs at the University of Calgary are showing they can get along — at least when it comes to organizing a gloves-off debate against each other.

Presidents from the U of C NDP, Wildrose on Campus and the U of C Progressive Conservative Association want to hold a formal debate on provincial politics this fall.

WROC president Jenn Galandy said the idea came after youth associations from provincial parties held a young leaders forum in April.

“It went really well and after it was done, both the NDP and PC campus clubs approached me about possibly doing another forum or debate, but keeping it at a campus club setting,” Galandy said.

Topics for the debate could include PC leadership hopeful Jason Kenney’s bid to unite Alberta’s right-leaning parties, the provincial deficit, pipelines and healthcare.

“I think the hot button issue will be ‘Unite the Right’,” said U of C NDP president Ryan Carter. “Jason Kenney and the possible merger would be something I’d love to talk about.”

Carter said he hopes the debate will include audience questions and more combatting among the panelists — something he says the young leaders debate in April lacked.

“At this other event it was kind of isolated and insulated between each person,” he said. “It shouldn’t just be people giving their opinion and then saying ‘okay that’s great, let’s move on.’ It should be more of a test of the strength of the ideas.”

While the event’s logistics still need to be finalized, the clubs would like to hold the event on campus in October or November. They still need to find a moderator and advertise the debate.

U of C PCA president Tyler Van Vliet said a debate would be a civilized way to show  that U of C students have varying political opinions.

“Universities are supposed to serve as the basis for dialogue,” Van Vliet said. “There’s a stigma that universities think one way or another. It’s important to show that the U of C has a diverse background of political thought on campus. The more people we can have engaging in fruitful conversations on campus, the better.”

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