By: Chris Burke

Anger is brewing over a recent decision by the administration at the University of Waterloo to raise tuition fees in the middle of the Summer term.  Students have expressed frustration over the decision to raise the fees as there was little consultation with the students prior to the decision.  Further, the increase comes at a time when the Ontario government is moving to put a cap on tuition increases at 3%, down from the original 5%.  The timing of the increase comes off as a cash grab.  An effort to increase tuition before the 3% cap comes into effect.

student protest

The administration has responded pointing out that an e-mail back at the start of the term indicating this increase would occur was sent.  Reactions to this have been mixed as some students I’ve talked to say they recall the e-mails while others have no recollection.  I can’t say I remember the e-mail though I don’t always read everything UW sends me.  Students will gloss over those e-mails before deleting them, a fact the administration should’ve considered.  Increasing the fees the way they did, the administration has argued, was necessary due to the way the budgeting process works and the uncertainty that surrounded the Ontario 2013 budget.

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By: Jared Milne

The results of last year’s provincial election in Quebec, which returned the Parti Quebecois to power, only reconfirmed the perceptions many Canadians in other parts of the country had of Quebec. The rest of Canada continues to consider the province as spoiled and entitled; still musing about separating from Canada despite having dominated the political agenda for nearly four decades and having received billions of dollars in transfer payments. Separation is seen simply as a way for Quebec to blackmail more power and money from the rest of the country.

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The province is also seen as intolerant because of language legislation like Bill 101 which other Canadians believe restricts individual rights and freedom of choice, particularly the rights of its Anglo-Quebec minority. Past Prime Ministers like Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien are seen as having only cared about their own province, blowing off many of the concerns of other parts of Canada. These attitudes prevail despite the rest of Canada’s efforts to accommodate Quebec by accepting bilingualism and the growing enrolment of children in French immersion schools, which is what they thought Francophone Quebecers were looking for.

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By: Chris Burke

Words alone cannot describe the anger I hold towards Bill-C54 and its supporters.   The 1837 Society is intended to be a place of civilized discussion.  Well today civility is dead: This bill is damn awful.  Those who support it are awful.

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Bill C-54, the latest travesty of a crime bill put forward by the lets-ignore-all-evidence-about-how-to-handle-those-who-commit-crimes Conservative Party would change the process of how an individual is deemed “Not Criminally Responsible” in a manner that would likely see them thrown in prison rather than receiving much needed medical help.  This vile piece of legislation ensures that the stigma towards mental illness will remain in Canadian society for a long time.

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By: Chris Burke

 

Life for disabled people and their families is going to get more difficult thanks to the provincial budget of Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberal Party.  While funding for the disabled got a boost, the situation is still grim as the budget was met with “disappointment and bewilderment”

 

While on the surface it seems that the $42 million announced in the 2013 budget is a positive, it will do little to address the growing waitlists for services and the crisis families face in caring for their loved ones without adequate government support, says Fred Hahn, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario (Source).

 

In a time when governments are looking to cut back on spending to control a debt, following the principles of austerity (which don’t work by the way), those who need the most assistance are helped the least.

 

With the current level of funding group homes will struggle, “to keep the lights on”.  Services are being cut and many people are being hurt because of this budget.

 

Province-wide nearly two thirds of community living agencies are cutting residential and day programs and laying off staff after years of provincial underfunding.

 

I’m disappointed in the Liberal government though hardly surprised.

 

By: James Rimmer

Late last term students at the University of Waterloo crashed a presentation on abortion by noted anti-abortion MP Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener-Center) They stormed the room and spoke over Mr Woodworth – one student even danced around in a giant vagina costume. The students made national news.

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This is just the type of tactics talked about in Saul D Alinsky’s guide Rules for Radicals, A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals. Written in 1971, when an earlier generation of UW students were hosting sit-ins in the SLC, the book is a practical and philosophical guide on how to start, organize, and implement plans for social change.

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By: Chris Burke

The Earth has reached a milestone, and not one worth celebrating.  Rather than a moment in history where humanity can raise a glass in celebration of its’ achievements, we find ourselves sitting here wondering where things went wrong: Carbon in the atmosphere has hit 400 parts per million (ppm).

carbon emissions

Why is this fact cause for the bleak opening of this post?  For starters, many scientists argue that we need to maintain a level of 350ppm of carbon in the atmosphere to avoid runaway climate change.  The UN provides a higher threshold, somewhere around 420ppm, but with the current path we are on that threshold is likely to be broken.  Second, as the National Geographic puts it:

“The last time the concentration of Earth’s main greenhouse gas reached this mark, horses and camels lived in the high Arctic. Seas were at least 30 feet higher—at a level that today would inundate major cities around the world.

“The planet was about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer. But the Earth then was in the final stage of a prolonged greenhouse epoch, and CO2 concentrations were on their way down. This time, 400 ppm is a milepost on a far more rapid uphill climb toward an uncertain climate future” (Source)

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By: Chris Burke

A possible coup-attempt has been brewing in Venezuela since the election of Bolivarian candidate Nicolas Maduro, the successor to the late President Chavez.

With 99.12% of the votes counted, there was a 78.71% turn out, with Maduro receiving 7,505,378 votes (50.66%), and Capriles 7,270,403 votes (49.07%). Opposition candidate Capriles declared that he does not recognise the result and demanded an audit of 100% of the vote (Source).

Nicolás Maduro at closing campaign rally in Caracas

Although the election has been deemed by fair by numerous independent observers, opposition candidate Capriles, with the backing of the United States, is demanding a recount.  That the U.S. is demanding a recount, given its history with coups in Latin America, and own experience with close elections, “demonstrates that the U.S.’s position in regard to Venezuela has nothing to do with the U.S.’s alleged concerns for democracy, but rather its complete disdain for it”, writes Dan Kovalik.

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