Tis’ the (election) season

A good political represen- tative adjusts their policies to suit their constituency. Where gay marriage worked as a campaign issue for the university community two years ago, education issues have taken its place.

In spite of (or because of) Stephen Harper’s recent efforts to air out the definition of marriage at the beginning of his campaign, the upcoming election will be fought, at least partially, on post-secondary issues. Years of struggling for admission into overpriced, underfunded and sub-par universities has finally caused an effective reaction from the university community. The provincial government has promised more money and more space for Alberta’s schools, but it seems the problem can’t be solved solely on the provincial level. In a last ditch effort to set themselves up for an impending election, the federal Liberals promised $4 billion in post-secondary spending.

If two governments, both firmly intrenched after years of power, feel the need to pander to their population’s request, surely hopeful candidates in the upcoming federal election should do the same. Rob Anders is not a good conservative candidate, nor should he be a hopeful one.

A good Conservative candidate in Calgary West would take a lesson from the last provincial election where three traditionally Conservative Calgary ridings fell to Liberals with education on their platforms. A good conservative candidate would realize the importance of post-secondary education in today’s political landscape and try to secure more votes by developing some pro-education policy.

Anders succeeded Harper as Calgary West’s Member of Parliament in 1997 and has successfully campaigned the following two elections solely because of his Conservative affiliation. Besides embarrassing himself and Canadians by speaking out against Nelson Mandela as an honourary Canadian citizen in 2001, and frustrating some in his constituency to create the famous anti-Anders campaign and website voteoutanders.com, Anders has done very little of anything in his role as MP and absolutely nothing for post-secondary education in his nine years in parliament. Ander’s short answer for educational issues in the 2004 election: his constituents just don’t care. An amazing statement in 2004 considering his riding’s proximity to Calgary’s three post-secondary institutions, and absolutely unfathomable should he repeat it in 2006.

While Anders is an extreme case of constituency neglect, it’s not likely that any of his Conservative brethren will be quick to tattoo education into their foreheads for the upcoming election.

In an election that is the Conservative’s to lose, they should be trying to exploit every angle they can, even if this means venturing into previously untouchable areas like education.The upcoming election will most likely see another Liberal minority and Calgary will almost certainly be another sea of blue, but education needs to be on every party’s agenda, regardless of position on the political spectrum.

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