• Long lines and two-hour waits for advance voting on campus

    By Kira Wakeam and Leah Lalich

    High voter turnout at advance polls in the Student Campus Centre caused long lines and wait times as long as two hours.

    Polls opened Monday, when 241 people showed up in one day.

    Throughout the week many students lined up for hours to take the chance to vote at the advanced poll, which closed Thursday at 6 p.m.

    “[Wednesday] we were told that our station has the highest voter station turnout out of all the Toronto universities” said Cormac McGee, RSU vice president education. “They each have two, three polls, we only have one and we are killing them in turnout.”

    According to McGee, Elections Canada staff said some of the enthusiasm might have been thanks to the free pie doled out for students voting at the station.

    The Ryerson Students’ Union and the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) collaborated with Elections Canada and the Canadian Federation of Students to create the first ever voting station on campus.

     

  • What’s Trending? Niqab of Canada

    After the conservative government said they would consider banning the niqab during citizenship ceremonies and for those in the public service, an anonymous Tumblr account has sparked a conversation about the recent issue. The Tumblr account, “Niqab of/du Canada” shows various photos of Canadians covering their faces.

    See video for details:

  • Sluts Against Harper bribes voters with nude pics

    By Arthur White

    An Instagram account is sending out nude photos to anyone who can prove they voted, preferably against Stephen Harper.

    Votes4nudes, alternatively titled Sluts Against Harper, has picked up more than 8,000 followers in just two days of operation. According to an associated Tumblr site, voters need to send in a photo of themselves by a polling station to show they made it out.

    The site offers “bonus points” for photos that feature slogans like “#FUCKHARPER.”

    In return, voters will receive scandalous photos of men or women, according to preference. The sample photos posted on the account so far are censored, with winky faces or cut outs of Stephen Harper’s head blocking out female nipples and all genitals, but still overtly sexual.

    “Harper kills my vibe,” says one user, who used middle finger emojis to block out her nipples.

    “2 cute 2 vote 4 Harper,” says another.

  • Liberals plan to increase student grant funding by 50 percent

    By Adena Ali

    On Monday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced a plan that he says would make post-secondary education more affordable.

    Trudeau promised to boost Canada Student Grants for full-time students by 50 per cent to $3,000 a year, $1,800 for part-time students, and make it easier for more students from “middle-class families” to qualify for Canada Student Grants.

    He unveiled the last few points of the Liberal party’s platform in an 88-page plan to a cheering crowd of students at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont.

    Trudeau described the importance of students to the Canadian economy.

    “We have a plan to provide direct support to students from low- and middle-income families, so that they can pay for a good education and keep their debt at a manageable level,” he said.

    He also emphasized the struggle for middle-class families trying to save for their children’s education, taking aim at the Conservatives and leader Stephen Harper.

    “The federal government spends billions every year on non-refundable tax credits that don’t offer direct help for students when they need it,” Trudeau said.

    He added that a Liberal government would make the student loan repayment process more flexible by allowing students to wait to start repaying until they earn at least $25,000 per year.

    The Liberal party also wants to invest $50 million in additional annual funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support program (PSSSP) to help indigenous students get a post-secondary education.

  • RSU doles out pie to early voters

    By Arthur White

    Students can vote early for candidates in their home ridings this week in the Student Campus Centre (SCC), and enjoy a slice of pie as a reward.

    Elections Canada advance polling stations will be set up on the second floor of the SCC from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day until Oct. 8. Students over 18 who show valid identification and proof of address can vote by special ballot. All they need to do is write in the name of their favoured candidate in their riding of primary residence. Elections Canada staff are on hand to help.

    The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) and the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson collaborated with Elections Canada to set up the project, said RSU vice-president education Cormac McGee.

    “It is part of a pilot project (Elections Canada) is doing with universities across Canada — 39 schools in total, I believe,” he said. “RSU is solely responsible for the pie. We’ve got everything — Apple, Raspberry, Strawberry and of course Pumpkin. We’re also working to get gluten free/vegan pie for people.”

    Mariam Nouser, vice-president student life at the Ryerson Engineering Student Society, was busy watching over those pies. She told The Ryersonian that it’s a way to say “congrats” to students who turn up to vote.

    “I myself was one of the first people voting,” she said. “It’s my first time voting in a federal election.”

    Nouser said she’s met people from all over the country who’ve stopped by for a ballot and a slice.

    “We had a couple students from out of province,” she said. “I was talking to a girl from Montreal and a guy from Winnipeg. It made their lives so much easier to be able to vote at school.”

    Nicole Bunt, an information officer with Elections Canada, said 241 students turned up to vote on Monday. She said she’s expecting many more.

  • Ryerson plans to help students navigate Fair Elections Act

    By Peter Goffin

    With the 2015 federal election just over a month away, Canadians face a new set of voter identification rules that some critics say may discourage university students from going to the polls.

    Among other voting regulation changes, the Fair Elections Act has banned two means of voting for people who do not have a photo ID with their name and current address on it. The Voter Information Card, mailed to all registered voters, will no longer be accepted at the polls as sufficient proof of where a person lives.

    And the vouching system (under which a voter with sufficient ID guarantees the eligibility of another voter) has been replaced by a more intricate process, under which a voter without ID must swear an oath and show two pieces of identification with their name on it, while also having another voter from their area testify.

    When Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre introduced the Fair Elections Act in February 2014, the government said these new restrictions on ID were in response to “mass irregularities in the use of vouching and high rates of inaccuracy on Voter Information Cards.” But critics have said the new rules will only make it harder for many Canadians — including post-secondary students—to vote.

    Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand told a parliamentary committee in 2014 that the Fair Elections Act would, in his opinion, make it harder for young people, as well as First Nations and seniors, to vote, since these groups are most likely not to have government-issued ID or official documents with their names and addresses.

    “I do not believe that if we eliminate vouching and the VIC as proof of address we will have in any way improved the integrity of the voting process,” Mayrand said. “However, we will certainly have taken away the ability of many qualified electors to vote.”

    At time of publication, Poilievre had not responded to The Ryersonian’s email requests for comment. However, in a 2014 opinion piece for the Globe and Mail, the minister wrote that, “Canadians instinctively understand that these changes are reasonable and fair. That is why they have not shared the critics’ hysteria.”

    Ryerson University is taking steps to ensure on-campus students can vote on Oct. 19.

    Ian Crookshank, Ryerson’s director of housing and residence life, said the university will be using one of two methods to allow students living on campus to prove their current address at the polls.

    For last year’s municipal election, Ryerson sent an official proof-of-address letter to each on-campus student to show at the polls.

    The other option, which Ryerson has also used in previous elections, is to provide the on-campus polling stations with complete lists of all eligible students who live in Ryerson residences.

    Crookshank said the university is in talks with Elections Canada and will know later this week which method will be used.

    But students living off-campus need a piece of photo ID to prove their identity, and, additionally, a document that indicates their current address, such as a lease or a hydro bill.

    That could be a problem, said Craig Scott, NDP critic for Democratic and Parliamentary Reform. So few university and college students have documents readily at hand with their current addresses on them, he told The Ryersonian. Bills for a student’s housing may only go to one roommate, and all forms of ID are likely to show the address of a student’s parents’ house, not their school-year home.

    While students can always go back home to cast their ballot, Scott said, he believes the added step will make it much less likely they will vote.

    “We know that when university students have to go out of their way in the middle of term … the chances that they’re actually going to line everything up and vote are much lower than if they could easily vote where they are going to university.”

     

    What you can use as ID at the polls:

    • One piece of government-issued ID with your name, photo and current address.
    • Two documents with your name on them, of which one has your current address. This could be a passport and a bill, a health card and a bank statement.
    • A full list of acceptable IDs is available at Elections Canada’s website.
  • Audience participation limited at Toronto Centre candidates debate

    By Kiah Berkeley

    Toronto Centre candidates participated in their first debate of the 2015 campaign Tuesday night, but some of the attendees at the forum were upset that they didn’t get to ask questions of their own.

    While Conservative candidate Julian Di Battista did not attend, Bill Morneau (Liberal), Linda McQuaig (NDP) and Colin Biggin (Green) spoke before residents in St. James Town, answering questions that dealt with the community’s top four concerns: immigration, housing, employment and poverty.

    Candidates answered four main questions created by event organizers, followed by several questions that residents submitted beforehand. Topics that residents asked questions about included the current refugee crisis, recognition of foreign credentials and family reunification.

    Amal Kanafani, who said she came to Canada as a refugee from Syria, was not happy she didn’t get a chance to speak.

    “They didn’t ask us any questions, they didn’t let us ask any questions,” she said after the debate.

    “For me, I have a lot of questions … they didn’t even let us talk.”

    Kanafani said that although she is highly educated, she can’t find employment in Canada. She volunteers “day and night” but is repeatedly told she doesn’t have enough experience for a job here.

    Candidates addressed the issue of employment and foreign credentials several times over the course of the 1.5-hour-long debate.

    Linda McQuaig emphasized that “foreign credentials are an enormous problem,” lamenting that “we bring the best and brightest, then when they get here, we don’t recognize their credentials.”

    Her party, the NDP, has pledged to recognize foreign professionals and to accelerate the recognition of foreign credentials and degrees.

    Bill Morneau said that Canada could be doing more to help Syrian refugees and that the Conservatives’ lack of action was unacceptable.

    When challenged by McQuaig, who said he hadn’t mentioned the foreign credential issue, Morneau labelled it as a critical issue and said the Liberals would collaborate with provinces to come up with solutions.

    For Kanafani, all that talk just didn’t cut it.

    “They say something nice but we hope they will do what they speak about,” she said.

    Diana Mavunduse, the community development co-ordinator for Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, helped organize the debate as part of an effort to get St. James Town residents involved in the upcoming election.

    While she was happy with the turnout, Mavunduse said that a lot of residents didn’t show up because they were working, many at precarious jobs. The number one issue for residents is employment, she said.

    When asked if it sounded like any of the candidates would help with unemployment and foreign credentials, Mavunduse said, “No, I didn’t hear that.

    “I still hear the same thing: ‘Oh, we will get you jobs, we will get you this,’ but what is a job?”

    Mavunduse explained that many foreign professionals believe a “job” means being able to work in their field in Canada, but instead they often end up working menial, low-paying jobs. Mavunduse said it bothers her that qualified professionals from other countries, often trained in the British system, must go back to school, but “when Canadians go to those countries, they’re experts (and) nobody questions their credentials.”

    But not everyone in attendance had a problem with the debate. Anish Alex, who works at the Yonge Street Mission, said the debate was great. He felt that candidates answered questions as best they could, given the two-minute limit on answers.

    “I think this is a wonderful opportunity for people to participate in the process of democracy,” Alex said.

    The debate had a fairly congenial atmosphere, in spite of the mournful organ music that crept in from an unseen part of the church. Morneau responded calmly to McQuaig’s frequent jabs, with Biggin cheerfully joking that the Green party’s role was “to mediate between these two.”

    Biggin acknowledged his underdog status and offered his fellow candidates luck.

    “It’s all too common to bash competitors,” he said.

    While each candidate criticized the Conservatives at different times, no one directly mentioned Di Battista’s absence.

    Di Battista did not respond to several requests from The Ryersonian for comment.

  • Conservative party rep absent from LGBTQ issues debate

    By Anna Chorazyczewski

    A group of Ontario federal election candidates participated in the Proud To Vote LGBTQ issues debate last Thursday, with the Conservative party absent.

    The event was held at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in the Church-Wellesley Village. An empty chair represented the missing party representative.

    “We received no response (from the Conservatives),” said debate moderator Brenda Cossman. The Ryersonian reached out to Julian Di Battista, a Conservative rep who was invited to the panel, but did not hear back.

    “My job would’ve been a lot harder if a Conservative Party rep had (shown) up,” joked Cossman, who was trying to stay neutral as the event’s moderator.

    Doug Kerr, the event co-ordinator and a volunteer with the Dignity Initiative — a network of people who voice human rights issues within the LGBTQ community — said that he reached out in advance to the Conservative party. He said he wasn’t surprised that the party was a no-show.

    During the debate, Cossman discouraged Liberal candidate Bill Morneau, the Green party’s Chris Tolley and the NDP’s Craig Scott from engaging in a “Clint Eastwood-style” debate with the empty Conservative chair, referencing the time the Republican actor and director had a debate with an empty chair.

    The discussion and debate was split into two parts, with questions from event partners and audience members.

    Several issues were brought up during the debate related to the LGBTQ community, including domestic and foreign policy issues. Other topics raised included refugee and asylum seekers, arts and culture issues, and indigenous, women’s, trans and sex workers’ rights.

    Event partners included: the 519 community centre, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Pride Toronto, Sherbourne Health Centre, Trans Lobby Group, XTRA Pink Triangle Press, #ENDhatelaws and the Bonham Centre.

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