NDP makes a U of C a stop on Alberta tour

A 30 per cent reduction in tuition? That’s what interim Leader of the New Democrat Opposition Raj Pannu will push for this November.

Tuition was just one of the issues the New Democrats hoped to get feedback on as they brought their "On the Move" campaign to the University of Calgary on Friday.

"We are doing several things today here [including] meeting with community groups and students," said Pannu. "It’s a listening tour. We want to get feedback from Albertans on some of the issues we have identified."

About 75 students gathered over the lunch hour at Speakers’ Corner to listen and speak to the New Democrats. Many of their concerns focused on public health care.

"Would the NDP, if elected, change anything in Bill 11 or strike it down?" one student asked New Democrat Member of the Legislative Assembly Brian Manson.

"I’ve already produced a private members’ bill called the Bill 11 repeal act," responded Manson. "It would repeal Bill 11 and it would put a ban on private billing and queue jumping."

Manson was also critical of other aspects of the Klein government’s handling of public health care.

"They’ve cut back health care [funding] and created a crisis," said Manson. "Now they are rushing forward to solve a problem they created."

The funding of post-secondary education and the tripling of tuition fees since 1990 are also areas of concern for the New Democrats.

"Tuition costs are causing a brain drain of talented, bright students leaving Alberta," said Pannu. "It’s time to make Alberta competitive in the knowledge economy–we have to reduce our post-secondary tuition fees."

Among the New Democrats’ goals for the next session of the Alberta legislature are a 30 per cent cut in post-secondary tuition and a long-term funding plan for education.

"Equality of opportunity in education… as a goal of our society is being undermined by tuition fee hikes which continue in this province thanks to the policies of this government," said Pannu.

Along with education and health care, the New Democrats will stress three other major issues on their tour, including taxes, democracy and the environment.

"This tour will help us learn what the concerns of Albertans are and represent those concerns during the [next] session," said Pannu. "There’s no better place to start this tour here in Calgary than meeting with young Albertans at this great institution, the U of C."

The NDP will hold its provincial convention from November 3-5 and the Fall session of the Alberta Legislative Assembly starts on Nov. 14.

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