Sunday, February 11, 2007

Caught Red Handed!

The York University student newspaper The Excalibur broke the story in this weeks newspaper that at least two student union presidents sucessfully attended a press conference by posing as journalists.

Chris Bently, the Minister for Training, Colleges & Universities, was holding a press conference about financial aid and scholarships for university and college students. But before he approached the podium to begin his speech, he was interupted by student government members from accross the province. Bently was forced to cancel the press conference.

The student union president York University, Corrie Sakaluk, and the University of Toronto's Vice-President External, Emily Shelton were allowed into the press conference because they claimed they were journalists from either the University of Toronto's The Varsity and York University's The Excalibur.

However, neither of these student politicians were even affiliated with the newspapers. In Sakaluk's case, she is not allowed to be a journalist for The Excalibur because under the newspapers' constitution this would create a conflict of interest between the newspaper and the student union in terms of press coverage.

Of course the optics of this look very bad on these student leaders. But what is worse is Corrie Sakalak refuses to admit she did anything wrong by telling The Excalibur:

"...I don't feel like I did anything wrong. I think that I made a strategic decision, and I think that it was an important way of ensuring that the voice that the students I represent come to the people and receive the media coverage that they deserve to receive..."-- found in this article.

Sakuluk apparently has no problem committing fraud by passing herself off as something she is obviously not, a journalist. Even worse she was caught by the organization who she claimed to be a member of, The Excalibur. The question in this case is: will Excalibur take Sakaluk to court over this?

An even bigger question is what is Sakaluk, as president of York's student union, is: can she be trusted with the spending of the thousands of dollars in student union money? Obviously if she cannot express regret in lying to a provincial official, Chris Bently, then why should the students of York trust her with one red cent of their money?

Further, if Sakaluk is going to get into politics in the future at either the municipal, provincial, federal or international level, how can she be trusted? Sakaluk has been caught red handed in this case and should immediately resign her position as President of the York Federation of Students. Failure of her resignation to occur, the council of the Federation of Students should remover her in office (which it can legally due under section 5.5 of the York Federation of Students' Bylaws). It would be a great disservice to both the interest of democracy and the students of York University if either of these options of removing Sakaluk doesn't occur.

What is even more disturbing is that Corrie Sakaluk isn't the only one caught red handed in the case of this press conference. This is disturbing because if the student leaders are going onto run in future elections in government, how are the voters supposed to trust these guys with their hard earned taxpayer's dollar? If this is the future of Canadian politics, Canada is in deep trouble.

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