Today saw two additional rounds of debates – one at noon for the President, VP Academic, and VP finance races, and an additional one in the evening over beers at The Gallery for the VP Administration, VP External, and Senate races. All but the BoG candidates had their chance in the hotseat. These are my personal observations – even having read platforms and listened to candidates, it’s hard to reflect in a completely “objective” manner.

The Races:

Chris Diplock and Andrew Forshner – evenly matched Photo Gerald Deo

VP Finance – This is a tough one to differentiate. The truth is that both Andrew Forshner and Chris Diplock offer excellent skills and attitude. They both emphsize the link between AMS Businesses and Services: healthy businesses mean more money for services. Both talk about appreciating employees that stick around, pay raises for students working at AMS food outlets, and modernization of the cash systems. Okay, so Chris wants to concentrate on sponsorphip opportunities, and Andrew emphasizes renewing some businesses (like the Gallery). Chris talks about ethical business practices and Andrew talks about sustainability. Andrew has more exprience running budgets through his activity with national debating; Chris has spent considerable time learning the issues of FinCom and BOC this term. From a poll conducted by the Cavalier in AMS council yesterday, most councilors support Andrew. Chris had the endorsement of the current VP finance, Brittany Tyson. It’s a tough race, and one that I’m confidant will give us a very capable VP finance whichever direction it goes. Take a look at their platforms and make up your own mind.

VPX and President behind the jump.

VP External – Freeman Poritz and Stefanie Ratjen offer a much clearer contrast. Freeman is a friendly, personable, open guy. He seems to be genuinely interested in learning and taking direction from students. Problem is, he really is quite new to this whole thing – both the AMS and the issues around post secondary education policy in general. Not that that’s a fatal flaw, but he doesn’t seem to have developed opinions on much of anything yet – many of his answers today centred on taking policy direction from council on lobbying positions regarding post-secondary funding. To me, that’s ok. But he’s running more on who he is than what he knows or what he plans – and that might not be enough. Stefanie offers a more experienced, and opinionated voice. She’s been extensively involved in various progressive and radical groups on campus (Femenist collective, Trek Park, the Knoll), and she’s thought about her politics and priorities. I don’t think Stefanie is a “scary” radical though. While she insists that education is a “right, not a privelage” (an assertion I find absurd), she’s not dogmatic or ridiculous about it. I know this because today in the debate when she was asked if international students should pay the same as Canadians, she said that she was against discrimination but would have to look at the issue more carefully. She also placed great emphasis on continuing in the effort to create a provincial lobby coalition with other schools in order to influence the most important level of government when it comes to PSE. I think that guided by council, Stefanie would do a good job.

President – Today was an improvement for the presidential candidates. They took my public speaking advice to great effect! Sweet!

“Che” continued to amuse today, and professed his resolve to dispense with all media, if elected. This corner dis-endorses him, therefore. Erin Rennie was a show of strength, humour, and intelligence. More on her soon. Rodrigo continued to be nutty, and added additional dose of hubris and self-satisfaction (if possible).

The two alleged frontrunners, Matthew Naylor and Mike Duncan (who worked with each other on the SUS executive last year) improved on Wednesday’s performace and played to their strengths. I worry for both of them that this position is more of a scalp on the belt, “the next natuaral step” (hateful phrase), than something they would actually excel at or contribute to.

Mike is shaping up as the more “populist” candidate. He’s had experience with a wide variety of student clubs and groups on campus, as well as his role as SUS president, and is very personally popular. He doesn’t have much of a mind for issues (I’ve rarely heard him materially contribute to council discussion), drinks too much, and his presidancy of SUS has been much more controversial than competent, and nowhere near inspiring. Mike’s SUS executive team has had some issues too. Mike’s platform focuses on making recreation at UBC accesible to students for cheap, and making the AMS more far-reaching through a round table (much like an opt-in stakeholders’ assembly). I like both these focuses quite a bit – they get to the heart of student’s experiences at UBC, which Mike gets.

Matt is more of a ‘policy’ candidate. He seems to know issues, and certainly speaks the language of politics, though tends to change his mind about them alot. He’s promising to implement the long-awaited commitee reform in 30 days of taking office, though sources say that he opposed the idea as late as this summer. His platform is packed with goodies: campaigning for more liquor rights on campus, forgiving ACF debt, and focus on sustainibility in the new SUB. But, there are serious questions about whether he can work well with others and lead a team – Matt is easily frustrated and sometimes expresses himself too strongly. None of the execs this year are supportng him, and he’s not (apparently) altogether loved at the CASA (our national student lobby) table either. But he is ambitious, and he’s got some good priorities – at least on paper.


11 Comments so far

  1. Anonymous on January 18, 2008 7:40 am

    I’m disappointed to hear that you think it is absurd to suggest that education is a right. I’m not going to debate the merits of that statement here, but it certainly is not absurd. I’m really excited about Stef. You mentioned that Freeman was the likable and personable candidate. I think you have this entirely wrong. Freeman was nearly booed out of the debate, whereas Stef is kind, approachable, and honest.

  2. maayan kreitzman on January 18, 2008 7:48 am

    I didn’t say he was “the” likeable and personable one. I just said he’s likebale and personable. Stef is also quite friendly and pleasant.

  3. Patrick on January 18, 2008 9:14 am


    I dont think there is much of anything I disagree with in this article.

    Im impressed!

    Stef is also awesome, just thought Id mention.

  4. Patrick on January 18, 2008 9:55 am

    Actually, I can think of one thing I disagree with. I dont think the finance debate was particularly close today. I thought my roommate got his clock cleaned. He was good, and true to form, well spoken and sounded quite reasonable and rational, but he just walked into too many walls.

    Mr. Diplock was possibly more critical than he needed to be, but when Brittany pointed out that she had in fact not endorsed Andrew… that kinda hurt his credibility.

  5. Anonymous on January 18, 2008 10:02 am

    Did you say Mike drinks too much? Wow.

  6. Anonymous on January 18, 2008 11:12 am

    Matt does his fair share of drinking as well. I don’t think that’s a strong point on distinguishing the candidates.

  7. Anonymous on January 19, 2008 12:40 am

    Mike drinks in public, Matt drinks alone.

  8. Anonymous on January 19, 2008 1:27 am

    Freeman’s policies are almost the status quo. He does not want to take risk and everytime I talk to him, he seems to be more a business type conservative. He wears suit and brags that he has 7 volunteers to do classroom annoncement for him. I seriously doubt his ability to stand up for the students as he is already shifting a lot of his words while debating.

  9. Anonymous on January 19, 2008 1:28 am

    Both are sad…

  10. Anonymous on January 19, 2008 8:30 pm

    Duncan “drinks too much”? Did this come up at the debate? In an otherwise interesting report, that comment comes off as something between catty and slanderous.

  11. Anonymous on January 19, 2008 9:36 pm

    I’m still a little worried about Stef’s radicalism – education is a right? She’s probably turn Canada into Cuba if she could…

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