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Campuses as viral political hotbeds

Students join groups and professors sign petitions against proroguing, but whether the momentum can last is questionable.


 

If you’re anything like me (student, politically aware, karaoke singer of Don’t Stop Believing), you’ve received a facebook invite to one of “Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament” groups out there by your friend that wanted you to join the “I Support A Coalition Government!” 13 months ago.

But it’s not just political science students getting involved virally—it’s also their professors. Across the country, an impressive list of scholars are putting their name to a letter, written by University of Montreal philosophy professor Daniel Weinstock, which argues “The Prime Minister is not only making cavalier use of the discretionary powers entrusted to him in our Parliamentary system, but in so doing he is undermining our system of democratic government.” (you can read the whole letter here).

Leaving aside the question of the quality of the letter’s argument—which Andrew Potter deals with much more eloquently than I could—it showcases, along with the multitude of facebook groups out there, the way in which universities are uniquely suited to bring Canadian politics into a digital age that goes beyond blogs.

You’ve got a bunch of smart, energetic people in a fairly small space, debating ideas and being used to 16-hour days. Lord knows professors, at least the good ones, are willing to have spirited discussions. It’s a resource to be leveraged. In America, the 2008 election saw the intersection of campuses and technology as a key part of the campaign from very early stages. In Canada? We’re still getting taking our time getting there (of course, the US had that Obama guy to excite students digitally for an entire election. I know very few students who are excited by Ignatieff or Harper physically, let alone digitally).

For his part, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, in lieu of being able to be in parliament, is in the midst of his university speaking tour. If his team is smart, they’ll use the events to keep the conversation about proroguing going on campuses. Whether that momentum can be sustained is questionable though—generally, campus clubs aren’t nearly dedicated enough to leveraging anything long-term out of a leader’s visit.

And of course, it’s one thing to join a facebook group or tweet, it’s another to show up for a rally, or god forbid, donate some of that student loan money to a political party.


 

Campuses as viral political hotbeds

  1. The only place politics has in colleges and universities is the political science class.
    University and college professors apart from being separated from the real world and being 90% socialist morons occupy a position of authority over their students and as such should not be influencing their opinions or politics.
    Iffy has told the that Climate change is a great crisis, Capitalism failed and created the world recession and that early learning centers are critical to the fight against poverty.
    These are all lies, the Climate always changes and man has nothing to do with it.
    Capitalism never failed, Carter then Clinton enabled people to borrow with-out collateral or the means to pay it back and forced with the help of Acorn and a promise to the banks the government would back those loans to lend to those with no right to borrow and that’s what collapsed the economy, it was planned.
    Early learning has nothing to do with poverty and everything to do with state control which leads to widespread poverty, socialism benefits only the socialist politicians agenda of control.
    Mr. Ignatieff is either a complete idiot or a bald faced liar, I’ll bet on liar.
    Schools are supposed to be places for learning not for political propaganda aimed at those yet to experience the real world, both socialist politicians and socialist ex-hippy professors have no right spreading false propaganda in schools but both do.
    What they should be doing is teaching the kids the real history of socialism so they quit wearing those tee-shirts depicting mass murdering tyrants and terrorists like Che and Stalin.
    Again Ignateiff your a liar.

  2. I don’t like Ignateiff or the Liberals at all, but it’s pretty laughable to call the guy a socialist and questionable to call him an academic. His career was essentially built on his attacks on the British Coal Miner’s strike and class politics more broadly during the ’80s. His hatchet job on the miner’s was hidden behind the veil of intellectualism but was a cynical career move by a second rate faux-intellectual. His litany of academic appointments after the mid-80s have been invited celebrity positions which circumvent normal hiring procedures and his writing in the last decade has almost never been peer reviewed. I sort of liked his first book, but after that I find it hard to believe that anyone can consider him a serious academic historian.

    Your more general claim that the academy is full of socialists is pretty laughable. I would love to be surrounded by socialists and commies, but I’m not. For the most part academics tend to be small l liberals and small c conservatives or more or less apolitical. There are a lot of very vocal social democrats in most academic work forces, but the number of Trots, non-sectarian actual socialists, Maoists, Stalinists (really? Who in the west actually stands next to Stalin these days) and anarchists teaching university classes has got to be less than 1% or 2%.

  3. The problem I have with the whole affair is that socialism is deemed the intelligent and rational response to all our problems. If that is true then I must be a moron since ‘I don’t get it.’ I was a socialist when I was a young man and when I grew up and learned the truth about people and how the world works I then became a conservative.

  4. What is the participation rate on campus for student government?

    How many positions are acclaimed?

    The post-secondary environment offers NOTHING in lessons for democracy.

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