Political science

With your mind on your money and your money on your tuition, there’s no better time to get to know your federal, provincial and local government.

Megan Leslie, Mike Savage and Stephen Harper
Megan Leslie, Mike Savage and Stephen Harper

I f you're a student (or anyone else, but especially a student), you should pop onto the database at electionsnovascotia.ca and make sure you're on the voting list. That's because the premier will likely call an election next week, with voting in early October. Anyone who is a citizen, over 18 and has lived in Nova Scotia for six months can vote.

Students should get involved because freedom, democracy, responsible citizen, blah blah blah, but also: Money. That's the money you fork over in tuition, which in most cases is the student debt that will be hanging over you until the Apocalypse, you win the lottery or you get a decent-paying job, whichever comes first. (We're betting on the Apocalypse.)

Supposedly, the provincial NDP government is committed to bringing Nova Scotia's high tuition rates to the national average—but that's only because they hope that tuition will increase faster in other provinces than it increases here. Here, tuition is scheduled to increase three percent each of the next two years, about half-again the inflation rate. Oh, and if you're in law or medicine or dentistry or an international student or, possibly, simply from out of province, fergettaboutit: even the crappy three percent deal doesn't apply, so they'll be able to raise your tuition bill to whatever they can get away with.

Yep, all across the country, the politicians and bureaucrats who themselves benefited from relatively low tuition rates have collectively looked at the next generation and said: "Screw you!" The societal bargain is broken, kicked to the curb. They've got theirs. Why should they care about you?

We say there's important value to low-cost tuition, not just for students but to society in general: a better educated society is a better society generally. And if we have to bring crass economic thinking to it, it's not just students who fare better with lower tuition: without the cement shoes of debt pulling them down, newly graduating students fly: they open new businesses, take chances, become social entrepreneurs, artists, intellectuals. We all benefit. But with the cement shoes of debt, students simply drown, taking whatever shitty job they can find on the way down, grasping at whatever might meet the monthly payment.

The Powers That Be mouth a lot of bullshit about entrepreneurship and innovation, and then do everything they can to make sure students can't do any of it. The only hope is a politically active student body, lobbying, protesting and, above all, voting. So make sure you're on the list, then get to cfs-ns.ca and students.ca to learn how you can get even more involved.

And it's not just provincial politics that matter. On the city level, we've got an elected council, but they're mostly just window dressing, a Potemkin Village of democracy, while all the important decisions get made by unelected bureaucrats at City Hall. That pathetic situation will only change once an informed electorate demands it, so get to The Coast's municipal government coverage at thecoast.ca/bites to follow along.

Federally, the Halifax area has mostly NDP MPs, and no matter what their politics, everyone loves Megan Leslie, who represents the peninsula, so she'll be there as long she wants the job. In any event, it looks like Stephen Harper will prorogue-off any hope of an election until the coming Apocalypse, so federal politics is mostly a spectator sport. Call your MP and get on the Christmas card mailing list, that's always fun. Otherwise, well, suffer with the rest of us. a

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