Most faculty think it was
a lacklustre campaign
Maybe its because its getting cold outside with Christmas
less than two months ahead. But, not unlike non-academic Canadians, the
small group of Concordia faculty members who agreed to share their opinion
on the electoral campaign didnt sound too thrilled to go out and
vote on November 27.
Its not the right moment, said Maria Peluso (Political Science),
because people dont feel involved. Elections have less impact
in November, she explained. Its winter in two-thirds
of the country.
It was still unclear to many why Jean Chrétien called an election
in the first place. Political scientist Guy Lachapelle, who analyzes public
policy, wondered if the election was a disguised plebiscite for the current
prime minister. In his third term, will Jean Chrétien be
able to face new challenges such as globalization?
The problem, said Marcel Danis, Political Science professor and former
Progressive-Conservative minister of labour, is that the campaign is really
boring. A number of people want to support the Liberal party, but
think that Chrétien may have done his time, he said. He acknowledged
that he himself, for the first time, might vote for the Liberals.
The issue of leadership is legitimately at stake in the campaign, said
Communication Studies Professor Maurice Charland, a specialist of the
political discourse. There is a level of policy commitment
Which party carries out the best policy? but also a degree of character
Which party best represents the feelings of the population?
A crucial question in this election, according to Charland and several
others, is whether Stockwell Day is likely to govern in the interests
of all Canadians. No, said Peluso. Day would hold referendums all
the time, she said. It would polarize people even more. This
is not governing.
As a former journalist now teaching in the Journalism Department, Mike
Gasher shares Pelusos concern about the growing political and geographical
polarization of the country. The campaign shows the divide between
two different visions of the country and of the governments role,
For Lachapelle, only the Bloc Québécois has succeeded in
putting the real issues in perspective. The attraction of regional parties,
he explained, reflects the end of a national vision of Canada. The
economic integration of Canada in the Americas makes the pressure for
As far as issues were concerned, these faculty members agreed that something
had to be done about health care. Throughout the 1990s, Gasher recalled,
there was lots of talk about the budget deficit. Now its time
for the social deficit Canada is suffering to be addressed.
These professors expressed a feeling of resignation about the outcome,
but for Lea Katsanis, an American citizen teaching marketing at Concordia,
the campaign was finally getting more interesting. The smaller parties
are picking up steam and have really achieved their objective to
attack the record of the Liberals and provide themselves with some momentum,
However, according to a poll released November 16 by the CBC, La Presse
and the Toronto Star, the Liberals are still ahead, and a Liberal majority
Students are discouraged
by federal politics
by Alexandra Schaffhauser
Many Concordia students following the election campaign feel deluded.
Craig Sauvé (first-year History and Liberal Arts College), said,
I listen to the radio, and its basically critiques of every
stupid thing that a minister has done or a party leader has done. It has
left me with no faith in any of them.
Sauvé, who will probably be voting NDP, feels the major parties
dont address his concerns.
The Bloc has an agenda, but its totally nationalistic
Im not interested in that. The Alliance has a moral agenda. The
PC I dont like rightists. I believe there should be more
funding of health care; I dont want to see a two-tier health care
system. I want to see more funding in education.
It seems to me that the Liberal party, especially Paul Martin being
the head of the G-20, is sort of furthering private interests, he
Many Concordia students feel cornered. Voting in a federal election in
Quebec often turns into a vote for or against Quebec sovereignty.
I dont feel like I live in a democracy, Sauvé
said. I was willing to throw my vote to something like the Green
Party or the Natural Law Party. I surely dont want the Bloc, and
Im not too interested in the Liberals either.
Tammy Karawi (third-year Theatre) will vote Liberal, partly out of habit,
but she said, Im not as aware as maybe I am of [the election
in] the States. I watch the news when I can, [but] every time I watch,
one person is insulting the other.
Political Science graduate student Arti Sachden feels that the vote she
casts will be for a policy, not a leader. Shes been voting Liberal
since Mulroney and all the problems that happened 10 years ago.
Stockwell Day has brought controversy to the election campaign this year,
and many are thankful for it. Mark Cohen (second-year Journalism) would
be happy to see the Canadian Alliance as the official opposition.
Im ready for a new face as prime minister, Cohen said.
Id be more favourable towards voting Liberal if Chrétien
wasnt the leader of the party if they had chosen Brian Tobin
or Paul Martin.
Aside from the Liberals, he pointed out, the Alliance is the only party
that stands a chance of a majority in the House of Commons. Its
not so much because of [Days] policies, because hes ultra-conservative
and hes anti-gay and probably a racist, but hes new and hes
I think a lot of people in my age bracket are ready for some change
with regards to education, opportunities for young people, budgetary surplus
spending. People are fed up with the health-care system. People are generally
fed up with the Liberal government.
Patric Gagner (first-year Psychology) will be voting Liberal, but hes
disgruntled. Chrétien was supposed to eliminate the GST
that never happened. He lied about a lot of things. I would like to see
the NDP win, but thats never going to happen.
Yasmin Gardaad is in her second-year of Political Science, but she said,
The more I learn about politics, the less I want to be involved.
She watched the TV debates, but they didnt change her mind, and
she feels theres too much emphasis on big business.
Although the Liberals eliminated the deficit, they also significantly
decreased funding to social programs and the health-care system. They
have promised to inject $21 billion back into the health-care system,
as well as making tax cuts of $100 billion over the next five years. They
have also proposed to allocate $1 billion by 2004-05 towards the support
of research, development and the high-tech economy.
Meanwhile, new funding towards Canadas colleges and universities
has not yet been proposed. Transfer payments to the province resulted
in drastic cuts to higher education in the 1990s, and tuition fees have
been increasing in most provinces. Post-secondary education in Canada
needs approximately $2.7 billion to return to the level of support it
enjoyed in the 1970s. Restoring education funding is one of the main concerns
of many university students.