Debate alive and well at Op-Fi forum

By Rafael Ford

Operations and Finance Vice-presidential and Commission candidates pleaded their cases at the Op-Fi candidates’ forum last week.

Vice-president hopefuls Jordan Bonner, Natasha Dhillon and Travis Fast and aspiring commissioners Les Champ, Mark Counsell, Jana Hanova, Matt Stambaugh and Robbie White were quizzed by outgoing VP Op-Fi Matt Lauzon, who asked the candidates how they plan to approach the tuition issue.

All candidates agreed tuition is too high, but they had different approaches to the problem.

According to Bonner, increases are inevitable and his focus would instead be on better pressuring the government to minimize increases.

"If you make your views known in Edmonton, they will react," said Bonner.

"I would really support Oliver [Bladek]," said Dhillon, who pointed out that the issue is in the VP External’s portfolio but said she would work with him on tuition.

"Scream and yell at the government," said Fast to describe the public display side of his mixed approach, which would also include consultation.

The Universal Transit Pass proved a contentious issue.

"I hate the U-Pass," said Bonner, who added it would only work if students were forced into it.

Dhillon expressed concerns about the current state of city transit, but said she’d defer to students before acting.

"I don’t think it matters what I think about it; what matters is what you think about it," said Dhillon.

Fast was skeptical about the U-Pass’ chances.

"It’s going to be really hard to implement because the [transit] system isn’t going to get any better," said Fast.

"Incredible; $150 [added to] your levies!" said an outraged Champ, who pointed toward the current transit strike as one of the reasons the pass would not work.

Stambaugh pointed out that most information students have is incorrect, stating the pass will only cost $80. Stambaugh served as External Commissioner this year, but did not give an opinion on the issue.

Op-Fi Commission candidate Mark Counsell, who also opposes the prospective U-Pass, said, "If you impose an $80 levy, people put off gas and parking to subsidize Calgary Transit carrying the same amount of people."

"If your car breaks down, how do you get across town?" asked Hanova, who favours the pass and considers it a solution to environmental and congestion problems.

Current Operations and Finance Commissioner Robbie White is in favour of lobbying transit, but would ultimately concede to student opinion.

"Whether I support [the U-Pass] or not is inconsequential," said White.

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