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By Russ Cooper
On Oct. 20 in the J.A. de Sève Cinema, the CSU and the university presented a debate between candidates running in the upcoming municipal election, scheduled for Nov. 1.
What took months to plan (the idea for the debate arose when the current CSU administration held initial brainstorming sessions after first taking the reins in June), culminated on Oct. 20 with representatives from four major parties vying for municipal council seats.
On the stage stood Alan DeSousa from Union Montréal, Carole Dupuis from Projet Montréal, David Hanna from Vision Montréal, and Jean-François Larose from Parti Montreal Ville-Marie.
Originally, Gerald Tremblay, Louise Harel and Richard Bergeron had confirmed to attend, but all three cancelled, sending other party representatives in their stead.
“The choice of language may have caused this. I wasn’t surprised because of the Anglophone characteristic of our university,” said CSU President Amine Dabchy. The evening’s moderator Associate VP Government Relations Russell Copeman stated candidates were welcome to answer in either official language very early in the evening.
By asking students directly by email, the CSU determined three themes of prime importance: urban planning and housing (including the greening of Mackay), public transit, and sustainable development and the environment.
The debate was a typical campaign exchange, each taking the opportunity to voice their party’s platforms and trade respectful quips and barbs. As well, each took turns to express their contentment with an event encouraging student involvement in politics.
“I’ve lost elections by three votes,” said DeSousa. “Anyone who says your vote doesn’t count is wrong.”
The event’s key organizer CSU VP External Auob Muntasar states he was a bit disappointed with the turnout (less than 40 people attended), but sees the event as a positive democratic procedure.
“I think the combination of midterms and [the fact that it’s] only a municipal election, students aren’t as encouraged to take part,” said Muntasar. “Though, in the coming years, I hope these small initiatives can have a snowball effect and students will become a bit more active.”