By Sophia Lopez, September 17 2021—
On Sept. 10, the University of Calgary’s Students’ Union (SU) hosted the Calgary Confederation forum in partnership with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA).
Green Party candidate Natalie Odd, People’s Party candidate Edward Gao, Liberal Party candidate Murray Sigler, Communist Party Kevan Hunter, and New Democratic Party candidate for Calgary Centre Juan Estevez Moreno all attended the forum to engage with students at the university. Conservative Party candidate Len Webber declined to attend the forum.
Marley Gillies, the SU’s vice-president external, presented the candidates with questions regarding issues that affect students on and off campus. When asked about the immense tuition increases the university wants to implement for the next year, Odd explained how tuition limits students who want to pursue post secondary education.
“We believe that we should eliminate tuition at post secondary,” said Odd. “Education is an investment in our society — tuition is a barrier to education and every qualified student should have access to education, including Indigenous students.”
All the candidates expressed their concern for the removal of the Vote on Campus program, and Hunter believes the government could have done more to make voting more accessible for students, and overall give Canadians more time to get out and vote.
“The Trudeau government had a choice of how long the election campaign should be,” said Hunter. “They chose the shortest period that was equally possible — 36 days.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on the country, and many people are still struggling to find jobs and recover due to the constant sudden shifts in restrictions. Estevez Moreno is calling for the federal government to step in and continue to help Canadians by offering grants and benefits until the pandemic is over.
“The federal government needs to do more,” said Estevez Moreno. “We want everyone to be supported until it’s actually safe to go back to work. So it’s time for the federal government to step in and provide [financial support].”
Canada, along with many other countries, are suffering the consequences of climate change. When asked about whether or not the federal government could do more regarding the climate crisis we’re currently in, Gao believes that a lot of what we see happening has been exaggerated.
“In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, we are not focused on that,” said Gao. “We think that there’s a lot of climate alarmism around this discussion. It’s been politicized.”
If elected into parliament, Murray assures students that he will stay engaged with U of C and the SU in order to make sure students’ concerns are being addressed.
“My promise is to be a voice for all of you. You are my bosses,” said Sigler. “I will not just have monthly meetings, my door will always be open, I’ll be your voice, I’ll value your opinions.”
The federal election will take place on Sept. 20, 2021. For more information on how, when and where to vote, visit Elections Canada.