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Patrick Callan

NDP makes inroads in London, Ontario

Until Ontario’s general election last Thursday, the New Democratic Party had not won a riding in the city of London since 1995.In London North Centre, the riding home to the University of Western Ontario, the local NDP candidate was Steve Holmes. Holmes is your everyday, “working-class hero” type of guy, well-liked in the community. The atmosphere was enthusiastic at NDP headquarters on the night of Ontario’s general election. Holmes arrived at the NDP headquarters around 8:45 p.m.; the polls closed that night at 9:00 p.m. and he had just returned from some last-minute campaigning.Holmes was in high spirits and very optimistic, thanks to the response he had been receiving from the community. A modest man of few words, he believed very strongly that one of his fellow NDP candidates, Teresa Armstrong, running in the London-Fanshawe riding, was destined for a victory.NDP supporters gathered that night at a local Legion veterans’ hall in southeastern London. The walls were decked out with orange NDP signs of local candidates and tributes to the recently-deceased Jack Layton. The crowd was all wearing orange clothing: scarves, hats, ties and tee-shirts. The group was in good spirits, enjoying beers and anxiously waiting for the results to trickle in.The upper floor of the hall was set for a party of 300-400. The stage was ready for the Old Country Band, led by Holmes’s brother. All the chairs in the room were orange; the tables were stocked with Cheezies and noisemakers that read “Get Orange.” Holmes’s family and friends were on hand showing their support and sharing an abundance of heart-felt hugs after the long campaign stretch.In the corner was a large screen tuned into the website to keep track of the results as they updated in 90-second intervals.By 9:00 p.m. the room had filled to more… Read More

Poetry gives you a “voice,” Maya Angelou tells UWO students

A sold-out crowd filled the University of Western Ontario’s Alumni Hall this Wednesday to spend some quality time with Dr. Maya Angelou. The “Evening with Maya Angelou” started at 7 pm, but fans began arriving much earlier. The lineup for the event stretched over three city blocks as eager fans waited anxiously to get inside and jockey for the seats closest to the stage.Once inside, more than 2,100 people buzzed with anticipation while being serenaded with soothing jazz music until the dramatic moment finally arrived.The purple stage curtains drew open, and there sat the legendary Maya Angelou.Dressed in black, wearing black sunglasses and black shoes, the renowned poet, educator and Renaissance woman was greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd.Throughout the evening Angelou engaged the audience as she drifted between poetry, song, and personal anecdote.Angelou was very candid, bluntly describing some of the lowest points in her life. She discussed being raped by her mother’s boyfriend as a child and the devastating effect it had on her life. The man spent one night in jail and was found beaten to death the next morning.“I thought my voice killed the man,” Angelou said. “I stopped speaking for six years; the only person I spoke to was my brother. I knew he loved me so much and I loved him so much that I couldn’t hurt him. I knew how powerful my voice was.” Angelou said it was poetry that helped her speak again during troubled times.“Poetry gave me my voice,” she said. “Had I not seen the rainbows in my cloud, I’d be one more statistic.”Finding solace through poetry helped Angelou overcome her personal struggles and inspired her to share her passion all over the world.Angelou challenged the students at Western to use their education and knowledge to become “a rainbow in… Read More

UWO student president talks student participation

22-year-old Andrew Forgione is busy looking after the well-being of more than 30,000 Western students.While many at that age are busy trying to manage student debt, he is busy managing people.Forgione is the president of the University Students’ Council (USC) at the University of Western Ontario.As USC president, Forgione’s main role is to provide strategic direction for the organization. Since taking office in May 2010, he has focused his energy on getting more students involved with campus life.Despite Western being ranked the best student experience for the tenth year in a row in The Globe and Mail’s annual Canadian University Report in late October, Forgione is looking to make sure those numbers accurately reflect the reality for all students at Western.He is especially interested in connecting with those students who are not active in clubs, student groups or other organizations.The Toronto native admits that he was not very involved in high school and focused mainly on personal development.But once he came to Western he realized that there was more at stake, and is hoping to get that message across to Western students.“I was just a regular student who knew I wanted to make a big difference. I wasn’t a student politician. I was a good leader amongst my peers,” he said.When Forgione began his campaign for USC president in Oct. 2010 he met with more than 2,000 students in less than six months. He canvassed both on campus and off to find out students’ priorities.Forgione believes that effective action is possible because the USC is independent of the university.“We can take stances against the university and we can take stances against the province if we want,” he said.Forgione meets regularly with the president of Western, Dr. Amit Chakma. He feels their close relationship will facilitate change.“We talk face-to-face about change… Read More

Justin Trudeau speaks at UWO

MP Justin Trudeau was at the University of Western Ontario last Wednesday, 12 October to speak with students.His appearance was part of a Canada-wide tour addressing university students. Trudeau says his tour is for better engagement on youth issues; he hopes to find ways to involve young people in politics, especially following record-low voter turnout in the recent provincial election.Trudeau’s current roles for the federal Liberal Party of Canada include critic for youth, post-secondary schooling, and amateur sport. Trudeau was elected as to the House of Commons on 14 October, 2008, in the riding of Papineau, Québec, and was re-elected on 2 May, 2011. During his career in politics he has been an advocate for greater youth participation in politics and urged more government action to prepare young Canadians to compete in the globalized world.Trudeau gave his speech and Q-and-A session at The Spoke, a popular bar and hangout at Western, found in the University Community Center in the heart of the main campus. Normally the site where Western students watch games and enjoy a few pints, The Spoke was transformed into a modest media venue for Wednesday morning’s event.The charismatic Trudeau spoke to a crowd of more than 100 students, professors and reporters.Trudeau talked about the need for a shift in politics and a fresh way of thinking. Instead of both political parties pointing the blame across the aisle, politicians need to work together and work with youth to ensure a bright future for Canada, he explained.“The status quo that we’ve lived with is simply not enough,” said Trudeau. Canada needs to challenge the way things have always been done and imagine a country that runs and functions differently, he argued.“We need to draw on the energy, the dynamism and mostly the idealism of people who aren’t already ensconced… Read More

UWO expansion moving forward

On Tuesday, 4 October, the London, Ontario, city council approved a motion that will allow the University of Western Ontario (UWO) to draft a comprehensive business plan to expand into the downtown area. The business plan must be submitted to the London city council by March 2012.UWO is interested in using municipal property in its next expansion, including City Hall. The proposal is expected to detail possible uses for London’s “civic campus” (City Hall, Centennial Hall and parking facilities).The City of London is interested in finding out what investments UWO is expecting, who the project’s other funding partners are, and what amount of money the school can reasonably expect from different levels of government. Furthermore, City Hall is looking for a projection of how long the implementation period will take and how it will benefit the greater London community.Though city council’s decision has started the ball rolling, the overall move to expand downtown will be a lengthy process, entailing, among other things, renovation of the 170,000-square foot City Hall building.UWO is interested in creating a “Western Centre,” which would focus on graduate education, continuing education, and vocational activities. In doing so, the university hopes to keep pace with growth in professional programmes across North America. The proximity of the proposed buildings to the main arteries of the city could be an opportunity to use the facilities both as a hub for research and for greater interaction with the community. Read More
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