Passion, debate and compromise at youth summit

Carl Kouri and his friend Mike Monaghan went looking for excitement at the recent youth summit in Quebec City, and they found it.

The two aspiring videographers -- Kouri graduated last spring in Communication Studies and Monaghan is in his final year of the same program -- have a strong interest in socio-political issues, and they want to parlay their passion into careers as documentary-makers in new media.

They managed to cover both sides of the youth summit. There was the official one, which was widely criticized for having too many older delegates, being too structured, and in fact being totally stage-managed by the Quebec government, and there was the alternative summit, and its headline-grabbing street demonstrations.

Kouri, who served as Concordia Student Union vice-president external in 1996-97, and moves easily among student activists, came away convinced that both sides played an essential role. The alternative summit supplied the passion.

"There weren't a lot of university students at the alternative summit. CEGEP students, because they're young, are vociferous, but frankly, there wasn't a lot of intellectual content there."

For their part, the official delegates, who included rep- resentatives of the FŽdŽration ƒtudiante Universitaire du QuŽbec (FEUQ), pushed the government to invest $1.3 million in youth, "more than the federal government is doing in its disgraceful budget." In fact, Kouri said, it was the FEUQ that pushed the government into holding the youth summit in the first place.

While many have claimed that the government had the entire event orchestrated, Kouri thinks that the dissent both inside and outside the convention centre nearly scuttled the event, and had organizers thoroughly scared.

That the summit continued to its scheduled conclusion was one surprise, Kouri said. The second was the "brutality" of the Quebec City police, who treated demonstrating students and working cameramen roughly, not only during the February 22 riot, but even after things had calmed down.

- BB

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