Too bad student-friendly budget doesn’t matter

Potential federal election just a distraction from wider issues

The 2011 budget proposed by the Conservative government contained a bevy of good news for students, but due to the increasing likelihood of a federal election being called by the end of the month, or even the week, students won’t see these new initiatives come to life.

In the likely event that the budget is voted down, or a motion of non-confidence passes in the House of Commons, all bills that have not received royal assent die on the spot. That includes the budget and all its student-friendly gains.

The interest-free study-period for part-time students? Gone. The $40,000 tuition credit for doctors and nurses who work in rural Canada? Gone. The boost to Canada Student Loans? Gone.

This also includes the recently introduced private member’s bill proposing the creation of a post-secondary act, put forth by NDP MP Niki Ashton. It’s a bill that seeks to streamline post-secondary funding from the federal government to the provinces and add criteria and conditions to the funds.

The Conservatives could be found in contempt of parliament — a Canadian first. The Carlton Carson scandal is a smear on their leadership and the Oda scandal reeks of entitlement. But Ignatieff’s Liberals aren’t likely to make gains as much as 10 points, nor can spunky Jack Layton hope to unseat the Conservative power house.

Canadians are likely to elect another minority Conservative government because, to be honest, they don’t have much else to choose from: Conservative entitlement, Liberal flacidness or … the NDP. With such an outcome likely, the election is a stunt that is a mere distraction to wider issues. And it’s going to hurt students.

Elections are important aspects of democracy. But with so few options, and so little in the way of game-changers that are likely to oust a government, I can’t help but think how futile an exercise this is. When no major shift in power is likely, an election is little but an exercise in futility that hurts the average Canadian and, this time around, especially students.

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