SU donates justice

By Jamie Hellewell

Money may not buy love, but some student leaders think it may buy justice.

The legal effort of students involved in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Complaints Commission investigating alleged misconduct and violations of Charter rights at last year’s Asian-Pacific Economic Conference protests in Vancouver is in danger of being bankrupted. The cost of hiring lawyers to compete with the RCMP and government defence teams has proven beyond the budgets of the university students. In response, Students’ Unions from around the country–including the University of Calgary–are attempting to keep the commission afloat by donating money to cover the students’ legal fees.

A motion was passed at the Oct. 13 U of C Students’ Legislative Council meeting to donate $1500 to help defray the students’ legal expenses.

SU President Paul Galbraith insisted that, while the protesters aren’t from the U of C, the issue is important for all students.

"This is an issue that has everything to do with students’ rights to protest," said Galbraith. "Our donation will help provide the resources to make it possible to launch an effective complaint."

SU Vice-president Operations and Finance Amanda Affonso echoed Galbraith’s sentiments. "We’re helping fellow students."

The drive to raise funds for the protesters is being organized by the Alma Mater Society, the graduate students association at the University of British Columbia. It began when it become obvious that the students couldn’t afford to continue paying legal fees and several of them indicated they may absent the proceedings.

Attempts were made to have the government cover the costs leading to heated debates in the House of Commons. In recent new, opposition Members of Parliament have been pressing Solicitor-General Andy Scott repeatedly during question period, but have thus far been unsuccessful. Moreover, student leaders are not optimistic about the prospect of Scott relenting. It’s this "dead end" that prompted the ams to try an alternate route: soliciting donations from students’ unions across the country.

According to Affonso, they suggested donations of $500-1500. The U of C SU responded positively. While, a motion to donate $2000 failed, the motion for $1500 passed.

"This will be one of the biggest donations they will be receiving," said Galbraith.

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