|Green party aims to get out the youth vote
The Green Party is calling on everyone between the ages of 18 and 25 to vote in advance polls on January 13 in order to send a message to political parties to pay attention to the concerns of youth.
Alberta Green Party organizer and Calgary Centre-North candidate Mark MacGillivray says young Canadians are being told, "Vote on Friday the 13th and scare the hell out of Ottawa."
MacGillivray says the objective of youth voter day is "to send a clear and unequivocal message about whats important to them."
"By voting in the advance poll it separates out their vote from everyone elses
so they have the ability to send a message to Ottawa," he says.
Voter turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds was under 40 per cent in the last federal election, according to statistics from Canadas chief electoral officer.
"The reason they dont vote is because, quite frankly, they havent been heard or they dont believe they are heard. This is an opportunity to give them a voice and a choice," says MacGillivray.
Report says private health not beneficial
The Alberta NDP are pointing to a recent report co-written by University of Calgary economist and Fraser Institute senior fellow Herb Emery as evidence that introducing a private health insurance system in the province will hurt the public system.
The Klein government has announced its working on a plan for a "third way" of providing health care and has hired a company to study the introduction of private health care in the province.
A recent report written by Emery and economist Kevin Gerrits investigated whether the introduction of a private system would "support the financial sustainability" of the public system. The authors found that the introduction of a private health insurance model would offer "little fiscal relief" to the government. The authors also note that if more Albertans had private health care, there would be less political pressure to improve the public system.
NDP leader Brian Mason questions what the point of the governments third way would be if it didnt reduce costs and didnt improve the public health care system.
Environmentalists say government hiding grizzly BEAR information
Alberta environmental groups say the provincial government is hiding important information on grizzly bears. They argue that if the information was released, it would increase public pressure to end the annual grizzly hunt.
The Grizzly Bear Alliance says the government has conducted new DNA-based population studies on grizzlies, but has refused to release the information. The alliance, the Alberta Wilderness Association and the Defenders of Wildlife Canada also question why the government is still reviewing a draft Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan one year after receiving it. The team that created the draft plan was established by the minister of Sustainable Resource Development to recommend goals, objectives and strategies for a healthy grizzly bear population, and included representation from government, conservation groups, industry, landowners and academia. The draft plan recommends suspending the grizzly hunt.
The government is expected to make a decision on the annual grizzly hunt sometime in February.
Post-secondary funding higher on agenda
Bryan West, president of the University of Calgary Students Union, says its "extremely positive" that post-secondary education is starting to become an issue in the federal election campaign.
On January 6, the Liberal Party announced it would fund half of the tuition for post-secondary students in their first and last year, starting in 2007-08. It also announced it would expand its Canada Access Grants, which offer funding for low-income students and students with permanent disabilities, to cover up to four years of undergraduate study. The Liberals also promised to review student financial assistance "with the aim" of providing lower interest rate costs to students and to double the number of apprenticeships available in Canada.
"Its actually surprisingly ambitious to say that theyre going to pick up the tab for 50 per cent of tuition costs for the first year and the fourth year of all students, college and otherwise. Thats certainly a pretty hefty bill and its quite interesting," says West.
However, West says whichever party ends up in power will also have to address overall quality of post-secondary education.
"The costs are going up and the quality is actually going down in a lot of cases because class sizes are getting larger
and youre having a lot of stress upon your infrastructure, so government needs to be able to keep up to that," says West
So far, the NDP hasnt released any post-secondary education promises. The Conservatives are promising tax deductions on tools needed for work in the trades; a new $1,000 Apprenticeship Incentives Grant, which would be available for two years; and a tax credit of up to $500 to cover the cost of post-secondary textbooks. The Conservatives would also exempt the first $1,000 received from student scholarships or bursaries from taxation. The Green Party says it would increase government investment in post-secondary education and would work with the provinces to reduce tuitions.
West says hes hoping for more post-secondary education announcements from the other parties soon.
"I think (theres) a growing awareness in Canadian political discourse about the need for investment in post-secondary education as that driver of the economy, the driver of innovation, as keeping our competitive edge comparative to other nations and the much talked about global market, so thats good," says West.