Wilfrid Laurier overnight street party goes out of control

(CUP) — Wilfrid Laurier University and David McMurray, the vice-president of student affairs, released official statements on Tuesday regarding a partially raucous street party that occurred overnight.

According to the statements, the party occurred on Ezra Ave. —which has become notorious for Laurier student street parties —and attracted nearly 1,000 people.

A couch and a mattress were burned in the street, causing police and firefighters to “manage the disruption,” McMurray’s email statement read.

Videos from the street party were shared through the @barstoolwlu Instagram account and included footage of the crowd hoisting up a couch with a girl balanced on top, and party goers jumping over the flames that erupted from the furniture that was lit on fire.

“Street parties do very significant damage to Laurier’s reputation — a fact that impacts you directly. Employers and others place great weight on where you went to university,” McMurray wrote.

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Comfort to concussion #VivaLaLoo

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Laurier has a well-deserved reputation for academic excellence and its sense of community. But this is tarnished by the kind of street gatherings that too often occur around our campuses. Not only that, it’s just a matter of time before someone — it could be you or a close friend — is seriously injured or worse.”

“Laurier offers many ways to make friends, grow personally, and enjoy your university experience in a safe and respectful way. That’s what it means to be a Golden Hawk — smart, fun-loving, supportive, respectful and community-minded. I wish you all a safe and successful year,” McMurray’s statement concluded.

With files from The Avro Post.

Feds invest $1.5M to end gender-based violence on campus

(CUP) — Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef announced that the federal government will invest $1.5 million to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence at post-secondary institutions over the next two years.

Monsef made her announcement on Thursday at Ryerson, with provost and vice-president academic Michael Benarroch and councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam among the community members who attended.

According to Monsef, 41 per cent of sexual violence cases that are reported to police are reported from those in post-secondary institutions and nearly half of self-reported sexual assaults are committed against women between the ages of 15 and 24.

“We know gender-based violence is complex,” said Monsef. “We know that it is preventable. We know that supporting family and survivors has to be at the heart of everything we do.”

In 2015, the government launched a five-year $5.5 million commitment to develop a framework to address and prevent gender-based violence at post-secondary institutions.

A report cultivated by experts from Possibility Seeds Consulting, a Canadian firm for policy development to advance gender equality, as well as government representatives, was launched in January 2019. Monsef said it’s meant to provide “a strong starting point” to “address and prevent gender-based violence action in various institutions.”

Monsef said that the federal government will continue to work with the provinces and territories to ensure the framework supports the work that is already underway.

“I know that by working together, we will create a legacy bigger than any government or institution can do alone, we will empower survivors and women, strengthen families and communities and create a lasting change that benefits everyone,” she said.

“Together we are moving forward.”

MPP calls for education minister to admit drop in enrolment

A Liberal member of provincial parliament on Tuesday wrote an open letter to the minister in charge of post-secondary education, calling on his ministry to reveal the number of students unable to attend university or college this year due to student loan cuts.

MPP Michael Coteau, one of six remaining Liberals in the provincial parliament, asked in his letter to Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Ross Romano to admit that post-secondary enrolment is down due to Ontario Student Assistance Program cuts.

“Your government cut funding to OSAP by $660 million. At the same time, you cut funding to universities by $360 million and to colleges by $80 million–all to give a few hundred-dollars reduction in tuition,” Coteau, the MPP for Don Valley East in Toronto wrote.

The provincial Progressive Conservative government announced earlier this year a reform package that cut domestic tuition by 10 per cent, slashed grants and loans offered via OSAP and introduced optional student fees via the Student Choice Initiative, a move opposed by student unions.

Calling the OSAP cuts “misguided and wrong”, Coteau said that “if enrolment decline is as drastic as is widely indicated through available evidence across the sector, this represents a catastrophic failure that will impact thousands of students, particularly low-income students.”

“There is no better investment a government can make in our future economic competitiveness than training up our young people or helping adults return to school.”

Beyond domestic students, Coteau pointed out that institutions will have to bring in more foreign students to fill the tuition gap. Any decline would also impact the local economies of any college or university.

Coteau said that he was the first member of his family to graduate from university, which would have been impossible without OSAP, writing that “the greatest waste in Ontario is the waste of human potential, and these foolish cuts to universities and colleges are harming thousands of students and our economic prospects.”

Under the previous Liberal provincial government, the bottom 200,000 students in terms of income were able to attend post-secondary on 100 per cent grants, virtually free. The degrees of grants were higher for students in general and there was movement towards universal education in Ontario.

However, when the Progressive Conservatives won the provincial election of 2018, the government under Premier Doug Ford slashed OSAP to a point where no student is eligible for 100 per cent grants and many students have said they are unable to return this fall due to the financial toll.

The New Democratic Party took the official opposition as the Liberals under Kathleen Wynne crumbled. The NDP promised universal education and loan forgiveness if they were brought into power.

The Liberal MPP is running for the leadership of the provincial Liberal Party and, if he wins, will go up against Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath, who received a vote of confidence earlier this year, in 2022.

The Post also reached out to the provincial government and the New Democrats for comment.

‘Don’t give up’

Michael Coteau, the MPP for Don Valley East and a leadership candidate for the provincial Liberals, told The Avro Post in an interview that students should not give up because of the extended struggles that they now face.

“Don’t give up,” Coteau said when asked what he would tell students going through financial hardship, adding: “don’t let [Premier] Doug Ford and his vision for Ontario ruin your vision for yourself”.

As for what students can do in the fight to defend their education, Coteau said that there is two approaches. There is an advocacy side where students can “make noise”, for example, through student organizations, and a personal side: the impact of the changes to each individual.

The United Kingdom-born MPP encouraged students to stand strong and have “resilience”.

Coteau applauded the student unions and campus newspapers that are fighting the Student Choice Initiative, an aspect of the financial reforms introduced by the province earlier this year.

When asked about what he saw campuses doing to defend students, Coteau cited a “culture of fear” within the institutions themselves, including inside the public colleges and universities.

Trudeau breaks ethics rules, commissioner says in report

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau contravened the Canadian Conflict of Interest Act by using his position of authority to attempt to influence the then-attorney general to grant legal leniency to SNC-Lavalin, the ethics commissioner said in a report released on Wednesday.

“The evidence showed there were many ways in which Mr. Trudeau, either directly or through the actions of those under his direction, sought to influence the Attorney General,” the commissioner, Mario Dion, wrote in his report.

Specifically, Dion found Trudeau broached Section 9 of the Act, a part that prohibits high-ranking officials from influencing another to “improperly further another person’s private interests.”

In response, Trudeau said during a press conference that he accepts the report and full responsibility for what happened, but did make clear he disagrees with some of Dion’s findings.

“Where I disagree with the commissioner is where he says that any contact with the attorney general on this issue was improper,” he told reporters from a podium in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The report will likely have a significant impact on the ruling Liberal Party’s re-election effort this fall.

The Globe and Mail, a national newspaper, broke a story earlier this year about alleged inappropriate pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office on former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to grant a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin.

It launched a dramatic, high stakes political affair that rocked Ottawa at the outset of an election year. Trudeau’s Liberals, who had a significant lead ahead of the opposition Conservative Party before the scandal hit, dropped in polling only to slowly crawl back to within the margin of error only in the last few weeks.

Trudeau has denied any wrongdoing and was backed up by his close friend and senior advisor Gerald Butts in a testimony to the justice committee earlier this year, following a testimony from Wilson-Raybould in front of the same House of Commons committee.

Now, with the independent ethics commissioner finding Trudeau guilty of violations, there could be political consequences with just over two months to go before the Oct. 21 federal election.

This is the second time the ethics commissioner’s office has found the prime minister has broken federal ethics laws.Trudeau was also found to have broken the federal ethics act when he vacationed at the Aga Khan’s private island.

In 2017, the then- commissioner Mary Dawson found that when Trudeau took a 2016 Christmas trip with family and friends to the island in the Bahamas, he broached the act in four ways related to accepting accommodations from someone registered to lobby his office.

President of the Humber College Campus Conservatives told The Avro Post only “what else can we expect from this clown?”

What did Dion say?

Conflict of Interests and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion wrote in a multi-page report that “the Prime Minister, directly and through his senior officials, used various means to exert influence over Ms. Wilson‑Raybould.”

“The authority of the Prime Minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson‑Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer.”

Subway introducing meatless meatball sub next month

Subway is joining in on the meatless craze that has swept through the fast food industry starting with a new product coming out next month in Canada and the United States: the meatless meatball sub.

The product is made with the ever-popular Beyond Meat’s plant-based protein and will be available at 685 restaurants across North America, available for a “limited time”.

Subway said in a press release the Beyond Meatball Marinara packs 24 grams of protein per six-inch sub, is “drenched” in “irresistible” marina said and is perfectly toasted with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top.

The fast food chain cites a study by the researchers at the NPD Group that found 70 per cent of meat-eaters substitute a non-meat protein in a meal at least once a week.

“Subway appeals to so many fans because we truly offer something for everyone. Our guests want to feel good about what they eat and they also want to indulge in new flavours,” a branding official for Subway said.

The meatless trend has grown significantly as substitutes like Beyond Meat become more popular for those that seek an option to cut down on their meat-eating for ethical, health or environmental reasons.

A report released by the United Nations on Aug. 8 warned that global meat consumption must fall to curb climate change, though it stopped ahead of explicitly telling consumers to go entirely meat-free.

Plant-based food and sustainable animal meat could set free several million square kilometres of land by 2050 and cut 0.7 to 8.0 gigatonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent, a U.N. panel said last week, reported Reuters.

It has not been made clear what Subway restaurants will be receiving the meatless option but The Avro Post has reached out to the company with a request regarding the Humber College North Campus cafeteria.

CFS, York federation sue province

The Ontario division of the Canadian Federation of Students, together with York University’s student union, announced on Tuesday a legal challenge to fight the provincial government’s Student Choice Initiative, citing a lack of legal authority and bad faith.

The SCI, which was introduced by the Progressive Conservatives as part of sweeping changes to student financial life across the province, requires universities and colleges to have have an opt-out option for non-academic ancillary fees in place for the fall semester.

The legislation has triggered a backlash from student unions, campus publications and other post-secondary student groups since it was announced on Jan. 17 earlier this year. Along with it came a 10 per cent cut to tuition for domestic students.

“This policy is a direct attack on students’ ability to organize and provide essential services on campus,” incoming chairperson of the CFS, Sofia Descalzi, said in a press release from the national organization.

“It is a clear attempt to silence students’ unions and student organizations who have a long history of holding administrations and governments accountable when it comes to creating accessible, affordable and safer campuses.”

“We are filing this legal challenge on behalf of all students, students’ unions and student organizations, including campus media and student clubs, the province,” said Guelph graduate Kayla Weiler, the CFS Ontario representative and a former Central Student Association vice president.

“Despite its claim, the Ford government is not for the people and it is certainly not for the students. Students’ unions have been democratically voted in place by students and should remain free of government interference.”

The Canadian Federation of Students represents over 350,000 students in Ontario, including members of the York Federation of Students, one of the largest students’ union in the province.

“Students’ unions provide essential services on campus like food banks, LGBTQ centres and sexual assault crisis support,” said Fatima Babiker, York Federation of Students president.

“By deeming these fees non-essential, the Ford government is effectively saying that students and their wellbeing don’t matter.”

The organization revealed that the challenge was filed last Thursday and the Canadian Federation is hopeful this matter will be considered in time to prevent the full implementation of the policy before the fall semester begins.

Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber are united under the IGNITE student union, which is not part of CFS.

CFS Ontario releases new leaflet on student changes

Eli Ridder | Report

The Ontario division of the Canadian Federation of Students on Thursday posted a link to a new leaflet that outlined the organization’s usual calls for free tuition but included a page dedicated to the changes by the provincial government to student life.

A part of their “We the Students” movement, CFS highlighted the Student Choice Initiative that forces optional student fees for this fall, the provincial cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program and a 10 per cent cut in tuition fees that could see unregulated schools hike costs to cover the loss.

Railing on the SCI, the Federation writes that it “makes fees that students have voted on through democratic referenda optional”, reducing the ability of student unions to represent and provide services for members.

With OSAP, the CFS criticizes the loss of the six-month interest-free period after a student graduates and the new policy that even low-income students — who had virtually free tuition before — will be forced to take out a few minimum loans over grants.

The organization, who represents student unions at several schools across Ontario, said that, though it provides relief to some students, the 10 per cent tuition cut by the provincial government, it is not in conjunction with “a much-needed increase in public funding”.

“Institutions will need to make up for the funding shortfall through budget cuts,” CFS concludes, also noting that the 10 per cent cut does not apply to the higher-paying international students.

Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservative government introduced these changes to student financial life on Jan. 17 to much criticism from student groups, unions, campus publications and opposition political parties.

Since the announcement by post-secondary Minister Merrilee Fullerton, there have been several rallies held at Queen’s Park in Toronto where students have organizers in protest.

Not all students have criticized the government’s moves but a loud and potential majority of them have made their opinion against the changes known.

The Ontario New Democrats, who were the runner-up’s in the 2018 election, planned to have loan forgiveness and free tuition for nearly, if not, all students. Their provincial legislators have been fighting back against the PC changes.

Image of the CFS We The Students homepage.

PCs projected as minority government in P.E.I.

Eli Ridder | Report

The Progressive Conservative Party is expected to form a minority government in the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, local and national media reported on Tuesday night after a close race in the polls between the PCs and the Green Party.

Rookie leader Dennis King and his PC Party won with a very narrow margin in an election pollsters predicted would just barely go to the Greens in what would have been a historic win, and the Tories will now join their recently elected counterparts in Alberta and Ontario in provincial governance.

The province has historically flipped back-and-forth between Liberal and PC governments but this year marked the first time a third party had a chance at governing.

The Tory win, though considered by analysts as “somewhat unexpected”, it followed a pattern of over 50 years where the Liberals would hold power for three years and than the PCs would have the government for three, and back-and-forth it would go without a third party.

This year was different. The Green Party was predicted to not only be a strong third party challenger but to win, however, it appears they will now form the Official Opposition in the eastern province. Either way, it is a hard blow to the Liberals, who have now lost yet another province to conservatives.

Image of leaders from CBC News and The Guardian P.E.I.

Ontario tying funding for schools to graduate jobs, income

Eli Ridder | Report

Funding for universities and colleges across Ontario will rely on metrics that include the employment rates and income of graduates, a move the Progressive Conservative Ontario government introduced in its 2019 budget and was further explained more fully on Thursday.

Recently, small portions of funding has been linked to performance of each post-secondary institution — specifically, 1.4 per cent for universities and 1.2 per cent for colleges — but those numbers will climb to 60 per cent apiece over half a decade.

Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton went into the details of the government’s plan in the legislature on Thursday, saying that campuses will be allowed to weigh the metrics on an individual administrative basis.

Fullerton detailed the metrics, saying they include graduation rate, graduate employment, graduate earnings, experiential learning, skills and competencies, community impacts and research and capacity.

“These metrics will encourage universities and colleges to take active steps to improve the outcomes they deliver for our students,” she said, explaining that it’s not meant to inspire competition between universities and colleges, but about “improving themselves” to deliver better results for students.

New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath, who also leads the Official Opposition, said the government is going in the opposite direction to what’s needed, saying “other provinces are investing in education, adding that “this government is taking money away.”

Image of books from Pexels files.


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