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October 24, 2002 Students under TV lights enjoy election day fever




If you were watching the election coverage on Global on April 14, you saw Concordia political science professor Guy Lachapelle analyzing the results as they came in.

In the background were six of his students, acting as results producers in the TV studio, tabulating the votes. They were Aubert Lavigne-Descôteaux, Julia Thomson, Leonardo Iannone, Stéphane Paquin, Isabelle Dupuis and Fadi Otari.

Iannone, a geography student in “the last stretch” of his Master’s degree in Public Policy and Public Administration, thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“We went for two days’ training in a Windows-based program, and then we had a dry run on Sunday, the day before the election,” he explained. The computer program provided a profile of each riding based on how it had gone in previous elections, and other useful information.

“I was covering the results coming in from the South Shore,” Iannone said. “We had a co-ordinator, and when anything exciting happened, like a change in the way the voting was going, we would call her. Also, Guy kept asking for material [to use on camera]. The big story was the close race in [Liberal leader] Jean Charest’s own riding. We were also tracking how many women were elected.”

The election night “field trip” was directly relevant to the course the students were taking, called Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation. The course covers government programs, and the use of polls and questionnaires to gauge their success. Iannone said that “Guy is a master of the field,” and Lachapelle is also president of the International Political Science Association.

Isabelle Dupuis, also a master’s student in public policy and public administration, was responsible for calling the winners in the 14 ridings of Montreal’s North Shore and the Laurentians. The experience, she said, “was really interesting because there were a lot of tight races and upsets.”

Dupuis was the “results producer.” At 11:20 p.m., Dupuis announced the winner, by a nose, in the last riding to be called. The Liberals had taken Groulx, with a final majority of 39.54 per cent, a margin of only 303 votes.

In order to be certain of the winner, at least 20 per cent of the votes must be counted and there must be a 20-per-cent difference between candidates, Dupuis explained. The race was so tight in Groulx that when 85 per cent of the votes had been counted, there was a disparity of 1 per cent between the PQ and Liberals.

When asked if she was interested in provincial politics, Dupuis responded, “Absolutely not!” She has an internship lined up with the federal government in Ottawa this summer.

As for Iannone, he has a bachelor’s degree in geology. His next steps will be an internship for his master’s program and using a bursary for French as a second language study. Ultimately, he wants to work in sustainability and international development.