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Federal debate at University of Guelph scrapped over PPC policies

A debate could not be held without PPC attendance.

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(L) Mark Paralovos via Twitter, (R) U of G via Wikimedia Commons.

The student government and a workers’ union at the University of Guelph decided on Tuesday to cancel a federal debate scheduled for the next day as provincial policy would have forced organizers to allow the local People’s Party of Canada candidate to attend.

The Central Student Association and CUPE 1334 said in a statement that they have the right to bar individuals from having a platform to speak on campus if allowing them would “jeopardize or compromise our anti-oppressive mandate and the safety of our students and workers.”

Based on the party’s platform, the two organizations found that the PPC policies “discriminate against people in the University of Guelph community” and thus contradict the CSA and CUPE’s work to “make an inclusive campus for all students and workers.”

However, due to freedom of speech rules mandated by the Progressive Conservative government earlier this year, the organizers could not hold a federal debate on the Guelph campus without allowing the local PPC candidate Mark Paralovos to participate.

If post-secondary institutions did not implement the free speech policies, they would be left vulnerable to funding cuts by the province. Therefore, to keep Paralovos off the debate stage, the unions cancelled the election event altogether.

Organizers told The Avro Post on Wednesday afternoon that Paralovos had threatened to arrive on campus with supporters to protest the debate if he was not invited. Jensen Williams, speaking on behalf of CUPE, said that they did not want violent protests similar to what occurred recently in Hamilton.

Jensen nearly five hours later told The Post that her claim that Paralovos threatened to protest if he was excluded from the debate was false, and that it was the University of Guelph administration who assumed there would be violence because of what occurred in Hamilton.

The decision to not invite Paralovos and subsequently shut down the debate so he would not protest was a non-partisan one, Williams stated. The spokeswoman pointed to the immigration, refugees and Canadian identity planks put forward on the People’s Party platform as attacking minorities represented by both the unions.

Requests for comment sent out to the provincial government and Paralovos have not yet received a response.


An election weeks away

The Federal Election Panel Discussion, which had over 100 Facebook profiles marked as “interested” or “going”, was planned as a way for students, who are part of the largest voting bloc, to get a sense of the parties available to them on Oct. 21, when the country will vote.

Originally invited was Liberal incumbent MP Lloyd Longfield, Green Party candidate Steve Dyck, Conservative Party candidate Dr. Ashish Sachan, New Democrat Aisha Jahangir and the Communist Party’s Juanita Burnett.

However, there was some pressure for Mark Paralovos, the People’s Party of Canada candidate, to be invited. Paralovos has previously struggled with receiving access to local debates and campaign events, but has since been welcomed to attend several after reporting by local media.

The move by the unions has resulted in backlash from Paralovos and his camp. In a tweet, the federal candidate implied that there could be legal action.

Paralovos asked on Twitter: “What I have to wonder is: do these two who have signed their names to this libellous and defamatory statement understand what they’ve done?”

“I guess we’ll find out soon enough,” he added, posting a link to a section of the Canadian criminal code dealing with libel, a law that covers the slander of individuals.

People’s Party leader, Maxime Bernier, has been accused of racism and discrimination, which he has denied. Specifically, there has been backlash to the part of the PPC platform calling for cutting immigration into Canada by over half, citing the economic impact of current levels.

Earlier this year, a visit by Bernier was made in secret after a location change due to what the PPC called safety concerns after anti-fascist activists planned a protest. As Bernier spoke to a private audience with Paralovos, a protest was held at city hall. ■

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Gerry Attrick

    October 3, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    Aggressive fascists shut down a planned political speech by a speaker they disagree with, with the connivance of the university administration, and the tacit support of the police (government).

    Berlin 1930s? How about Ottawa 2010. (University of Ottawa)

  2. Gerry Attrick

    October 3, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    By implication, the union believes only “white people” can pursue and support Western values. Disgusting, rank racists and hypocrites.
    I am so disappointed by this attack on free speech on campus. I’m not a member of the PPC, but I certainly affirm its right and the right of all Elections Canada approved parties, to fully participate in our democracy. If you don’t agree with the PPC don’t vote for it and challenge it with reasoned peaceful debate, but don’t deplatform its candidates.

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Exclusive: Guelph-Humber will not be moving as strategic plan is developed

There are no plans to move the university as a new strategic plan is developed.

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File photo of the University of Guelph-Humber on Sept. 24, 2019 by Eli Ridder/TAP.

The University of Guelph told The Avro Post on Friday that there are no plans to physically relocate the University of Guelph-Humber “at this time” amid an ongoing process to develop a new strategic plan expected to be completed by the spring.

After a report revealed that last year that Guelph-Humber’s sole building at Humber College’s North Campus was over capacity and there were unverified rumours that the university would be moved, questions arose over its future.

Guelph-Humber was established in 2002 through a partnership between the University of Guelph and Humber College.

Officials pointed to a new webpage dedicated to bringing together all resources to do with the partnership between Guelph and Humber including an operational review undertaken during the fall of 2017.

There has not been a new strategic plan since the governing framework of Guelph-Humber was written in 1999 to establish the university and so a year-long process was launched last May to make a new plan, according to a press release from the presidents of Guelph and Humber.

Guelph-Humber graduates receive a bachelor’s degree from Guelph and a college diploma from Humber. Guelph-Humber students have access to many of the supports provided by Humber and are also members of the IGNITE student union. ■

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A new era for IGNITE

The next generation of directors will have new challenges.

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File photo of the IGNITE symbol.

With the passing of several bylaw amendments on Wednesday at a Special Meeting of the Members, IGNITE on Thursday strides into a new era with five months of decision-making behind it.

Elections will start in a matter of weeks and, for the first time in its history, the student union will not be electing executives. There will only be candidates for the Board, which sits at the top of IGNITE. 

There will be open seats at Humber College’s North, Lakeshore and Orangeville Campuses as well as at the University of Guelph-Humber. This next generation of directors will preside over a very different student union then the one the current term was handed last April.

In some ways, there will be more certainty.

They will enter a student union that has been reset with a new, more corporate direction moving forward through a new base rule: By-law No. 1 — which resets the rules for IGNITE with the bylaw amendments that students passed at the Special Meeting of the Members, combined with the skeleton of the previous Constitution.

That is not to say there will not be challenges. Chief among them will be the ongoing legal struggle over the Student Choice Initiative. Currently, the province is looking to appeal the decision made by the Ontario Divisional Court to strike down the initiative.

Several student unions, including the University of Toronto Students’ Union, have cancelled opt-out portals, ending its optional student fees and returning to the previous status quo of 100 per cent mandatory fees.

IGNITE reiterated its position on Wednesday that it would not end optional student fees while the SCI was in essential legal limbo.

If the Ford administration is successful in repealing the court ruling, student union officials said they would not want a scenario where they would have to flip-flop between mandatory and optional fees.

Directors will also have to manage hiring and overseeing the new student engagement coordinators, who will replace the current executive model.

They will be hired staffers within the student union and sit below the executive director and alongside part-time staff, according to graphics released by IGNITE. ■

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Constitution formally replaced with ‘By-law No. 1’

It awaits AGM approval.

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File photo.

Following approval by the members of new bylaw amendments on Wednesday, IGNITE has replaced its Constitution with “By-law No. 1”, though it still needs confirmation by the members at the Annual General Meeting.

By-Law No. 1 contains eight pages of rules, a full five pages less than the previous Constitution. It states it will need confirmation by the members on Mar. 22, 2020, a potential reveal of the date set for the AGM, a normal timeframe. ■

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