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Reduce tuition, urges youth prime minister

by Archives April 7, 2009

SYDNEY (CUP) – Andrew Clements, an arts student at Cape Breton University, holds his identity as a Cape Bretoner and Atlantic Canadian in high esteem as youth prime minister.
Youth prime minister is a post elected online to lead the Youth Government of Canada, a self-described “network for youth and youth organizations who aim to represent, serve, engage, and empower youth between the ages of 10 and 24.”
“I understand that [Atlantic Canada] is quite under-represented in federal politics. I wanted to make sure our voices are heard and our values represented,” he said.
When contemplating Atlantic Canada’s standing among the other provinces, Clements noted the difficulties faced come down to geography and population.
“When you look at Atlantic Canada as opposed to the West, the population is astronomically different. Or even Atlantic Canada to Ontario,” he said.
Clements notes that Atlantic provinces face challenges with their economies.
“When you look over in Alberta, they were doing well with oil, and in Ontario they had the auto industry. It’s kind of difficult for us, location wise, to do anything besides fisheries and forestry.”
However, Clements stresses that as youth prime minister, he has to represent the voices of youth throughout Canada – and that means a focus on post-secondary education.
Clements said that the recent financial crisis has had an impact on the stronger economies within Canada, and will have an effect on the youth of the country.
“[The crisis] will play a big part in our responsibilities; we’re the ones who will be paying for our university, the people who will be going into these job sectors when we graduate,” he said.
He says how the government responds now will have a huge impact on youth in the future.
“We’re really expensive [in terms of] post-secondary education. I think we can deal with it a lot better than how we deal with it now. I know it’s provincially regulated, but the federal government can play a larger role on the issue.”
CIements cites the recent two-percent cut to GST.
“One [percentage point] could have covered all tuition,” he said. “We could be significantly reducing tuition costs.”
When asked what issues he thought were most important to young Canadians, Clements re-acknowledged the financial crisis and post-secondary education, but turned his immediate attention to the environment.
“The environment’s always a big one, mainly because that issue will be our responsibility,” he said. “The decisions that are made now will ultimately have an impact on how we live our lives and how we’ll respond to these issues in the future.”
Clements says youth are encouraged to get in contact with him personally, at andrew.clements@ygc-gjc.ca, and to visit the Youth Government of Canada’s website at www.ygc-gjc.ca

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