Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Students watch Whitby-Oshawa candidates debate the issues for the first time together


Students watch Whitby-Oshawa candidates debate the issues for the first time together

Sep 24, 2008 - 10:30 AM

By Parvaneh Pessian

WHITBY -- An all-candidates debate at Sinclair Secondary School in Whitby proved to be an informative experience for senior students, evoking various reactions and even shifting the political stance of some.

The four candidates in the Whitby-Oshawa riding took to the stage in front of about 150 students Tuesday morning, debating together for the first time since the writ was dropped earlier this month.

"The students actually get to see the election process happening right before their eyes and I think it really brings politics into their world," said Kim Lang, who's taught the subject at the school for 14 years. "It lets them realize that they have a voice and a place in the political process."

The event was organized by students in the Grade 12 politics class and was open for senior students from other classes to watch. Students researched issues for weeks to develop questions and then as a class selected which topics to approach the candidates with.

The students touched on topics such as tuition, crime rates, the environment and the fate of General Motors workers. A panel of four students -- one representing each party -- asked the candidates questions and then it was opened up to the floor.

Many attending the event, like student Vlad Dobrescu, said the quality of responses during the debate helped sway them toward a particular party.

"I think it was interesting to see who attacked the others more and who talked about their actual policies," he said, adding that he was drawn to the NDPs and Greens because he found Liberal candidate Brent Fullard was mostly just targeting Conservative Jim Flaherty.

English teacher Jennifer Jenkins disagreed, saying she was impressed by Mr. Fullard's handle on the issues and thought his debating style stood out.

Student and debate MC Parker MacKay said it was an informative political experience for everyone there, especially since Mr. Flaherty is also Canada's federal finance minister.

"I think that it's beneficial for the students and it's really exciting for me because I take the time to research politics," he said.

The school hosts the event every year there is a provincial or federal election and all attending students are either eligible to vote or will be next year. After the two-hour debate, the students had a chance to meet the candidates face-to-face.

"The questions were good and they covered a broad range of subjects, which made it more interesting," Mr. Flaherty said, while shaking hands with people exiting the theatre. "My experience in the high schools in a lot of elections has been that the students are very interested and ask very direct questions."

Mr. Fullard also said he was happy to see the students demonstrate a high level of political knowledge and keenness.

"Without people's involvement, you're not going to have a good government and the more of these events that happen, the better."

Green candidate Doug Anderson said more schools hosting debates will help candidates reach out to youth.

"They're the future," he said, looking off at the students hovering over tables with brochures from each party. "I hope that their interest carries on and that they do vote."

NDP candidate David Purdy said in addition to the forums, he believes political science as a mandatory credit in high schools would add to students' interest.

"Most kids are so excited about turning 19 so they can go out and have a legal drink. Imagine what it would be like if more of them were excited about turning 18 so they can go out to vote."


Dr Mike said...

One student thought Brent was targeting Flaherty .

Uh ok---that is the whole idea isn`t it??

Flaherty has done us wrong , now it is time to pay the piper.

Just remember Jim , there is no crying in politics---whimpering , whining & sobbing yes , but no crying.

Dr Mike Popovich.

Robert Gibbs said...

'Keep them out!' Mounties stop media from asking Tory questions

RCMP being used by Conservatives for political purposes

The Canadian Press

September 24, 2008 (EDIT)

OTTAWA — It's a blurry, democratically dangerous no-man's-land that the Conservative government and RCMP spokespeople do not like to publicly explore.

The line between legitimate RCMP security duties and the media management of a politically sensitive Prime Minister's Office appeared to be scuffed once again this week on the election trail.

Mounties protecting Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a campaign event in Surrey, B.C. were ordered Tuesday evening to stop reporters from approaching a high-profile Tory candidate.

"Keep them out," Harper aide Ray Novak shouted at the RCMP security detail as journalists approached Dona Cadman.

CTV's Rosemary Thompson was literally yanked aside by one Mountie as she approached the retreating group - which did not include the prime minister.

Cadman, a Conservative candidate, is famous for sparking bribery allegations against her party by telling a journalist last year that her dying husband, former Reform and Independent MP Chuck Cadman, claimed to have been offered a million-dollar insurance policy to change his vote in Parliament.

It's an unresolved storyline the Conservatives don't want pursued during an election campaign.

The incident followed an earlier episode in the campaign's first week when the RCMP was employed to thwart a CTV camera crew in St. Eustache, Que., on the day the Tories suspended campaign spokesman Ryan Sparrow.

"I want that camera out of there," Harper spokeswoman Carolyn Stewart Olsen told a Mountie, who somewhat apologetically obliged.

But is it within the RCMP's mandate to stop the media from doing its job?

In fact, PMO officials knew reporters wanted to speak to Cadman and immediately directed her toward an exit. They then ordered the RCMP detail to stop the trailing media.

Vancouver Conservative James Moore pleaded ignorance about the details of Tuesday evening's encounter.

Last year, the Prime Minister's Office ordered the RCMP to evict reporters from a hotel lobby in Charlottetown where they had gathered to interview Tory MPs as they emerged from a caucus retreat.

A comment by a Mountie to reporters made it crystal clear the issue was not security, but rather 'communications strategy.'

Several officers matter-of-factly said they were acting on orders from the PMO - although the official RCMP line, delivered after the incident became a major media story, was that hotel management sought the eviction.

Many on Parliament Hill believe the PMO's use of RCMP security to thwart reporters has steadily increased under a Harper government that is obsessed with communications control. Stories abound, for instance, of security officers stopping camera cut-away shots from non-PMO-approved positions.

Some have concluded that the Mounties have "succumbed to government influence and intrusion in an area where such influence and intrusion is inappropriate."