Race Profile: VP External

Posted by: | January 21, 2010 | 9 Comments


UBC Insiders Analysis

Click here to skip to profiles of the candidates in this race.

The Vice-President External, otherwise known as the “just what are they doing” VP, is the person who, if doing a good job, isn’t around on campus much. Responsible for advocating to the provincial and federal governments as well as other student societies, the VPX is one of the most difficult roles to enter in to without a strong understanding of the Canadian student movement and provincial/federal politics.

Included under the portfolio are things relating to the life of a student that government exercises quite a bit of control over. Included are: transportation (U-Pass), University financing and access (financial assistance, tuition), childcare (split with the VP Academic), cost-of-living and more recently the Olympics.

Tables, profiles, and an attempt to figure out why Tim Chu is running, right around the corner.

There are a handful of current issues on the table for the incumbent. Notably, the AMS’s relationship with CASA, the development of the UBC Line, and how to unite the provincial student societies.

CASA remains in the front of everyone’s mind. While the AMS passed a motion to withdraw from CASA, that motion is not yet in effect. Council could at anytime move to rescind such a motion by a 2/3rds vote. To say the move to leave CASA was fraught with hurried half-truths would be an understatement, and a calmer-minded committee should reopen the binder and take a serious gander at whether or not walking right now is the right move.

How to introduce the UBC Line remains an exciting project this upcoming year. I recently attended a consultation session and students have to be sure their voices are heard over those of Vancouver NIMBYists down the Broadway corridor. I was glad to see both Tim Chu and Jeremy McElroy at the consultation.

At the end of the day, how to get the provincial student associations working together, instead of against each other, is what’s needed to get anyone to start listening on local stages. An elephant in the room is whether or not the AMS can work successfully with schools belonging to the CFS-BC. Fortunately, BC is starting to gain its wits, and many schools either have already or are trying their darnedest to become unaffiliated, maverick schools like UBC is.

Why Tim Chu is in the running remains a complete mystery to all. We even tried to ask him, and he refused to answer. After losing the trust of council again and again, he managed to prompt one of those oh-so infrequent spikes of negative engagement: to remove him from office. If he hasn’t learned a lesson from a unanimous vote of the council, as well as some basic numbers, then he really ought to be reconsidering his future in politics. His rhetoric on wasteful spending to send Council to Victoria is plainly hypocritical, his rhetoric on staying accountable to students is plainly insincere, and his rhetoric around using hard power, while hilariously not understanding the term, is conducted in a way that’s plainly ineffective (the campaign was never brought up in the legislature).

But maybe there’s a bright side and he’s bringing out the electorate with pitchforks and pens cursors to vote in unforeseen numbers.

We took a poll of councillors on Wednesday, and this is how they will be casting their votes for VPX:

Jeremy Stas Aaron Tim
Jeremy beats X 26 25 25
Stas beats 2 X 11 16
Aaron beats 2 9 X 12
Tim beats 2 4 7 X

Jeremy > Stas > Aaron > Tim ; N = 28.

In short, council strongly, strongly supports Jeremy over all other candidates. I called Tim having a strong mandate last year, but if this sample is anywhere accurate, Jeremy’s mandate is a moutain to Tim’s knoll.

Candidate Profiles

Name: Aaron Z. Palm
Age: 22
Year: 5
Faculty and program: Arts; History
Years on campus: 5
Past campus involvement: Claimed victory in VP Admin election (the second one) only to be disqualified when the EA discovered I had paid my campaign team in cocaine. Was lighting the Knoll on fire before it was cool
Past non-campus involvement: Red Dawn is a biopic based on my life. HUAC investigated me (check Facebook)

1) Why will students rally behind you?

Unlike other candidates, I do not come from a ‘hack’ background. I get students. I was voted “candidate most students would want to have a beer with” in a scientific poll. Most importantly, students will rally behind me because my platform is simple: Reduce tuition by cutting wasteful spending. Currently countless dollars are spend on special interest groups. By giving this money back to the student body, students can choose to spend their money on only the services they want. The AMS that governs the best governs the least.

2) What is the role of the AMS on the federal stage? On the provincial stage?

To fight them on U-Boulevard, to fight them on Wreck Beach! It has become clear that the Canadian government no longer represents the interests of UBC students.

3) How should the AMS use the other BC Student Societies?

It is our duty to spread UBC-style democracy to as many universities as possible. That being said, the AMS should maintain a hands-off approach until our current situation stabilizes. Students are tired of AMS spending and it is time for a year where we can finally say “the AMS that governs the least governs the best”.

4) In light of the AMS’s recent decision to leave CASA, how do you best feel the money previously directed to CASA fees can be best used to advance the AMS’s lobbying priorities?

According to my math, that money can purchase 1,000 M-16 rifles and 250,000 rounds of 5.56 per year. These arms, combined with the militarization of the TRIUMF reactor, will finally give the AMS enough hard power to enable us to come to the table on equal terms with any branch of the Canadian government.

5) How do you feel the AMS can most effectively lobby the provincial and federal governments?

Current AMS lobbying is simply an excuse for executives to get drunk and sleep with hacks from other universities. This sort of sinful debauchery brings shame to our campus and will end. I cannot think of anything beneficial that has come of AMS lobbying that could not have been secured by force of arms. The money that is saved by not lobbying will be ample to supply the UBC Defense Force.


Name: Jeremy McElroy
Age: 21
Year: 4
Faculty and program: Arts, Political Science
Years on campus: 4
Past campus involvement: 2 years as an AUS Councillor, 1 year Arts AMS Councillor
Past non-campus involvement: 6 years with the British Columbia Youth Parliament, involvement with the Surrey and Vancouver FoodBanks, Oxfam Canada, 4 time staffer at Camp Phoenix (http://www.campphoenix.ca/)

1) Why will students rally behind you?

I believe I’ve proven myself to be levelheaded, reasonable, approachable, and conscious of student issues. The AMS has not done a very good job of truly reflecting majority views on campus the past few years, and I want to change this by opening up the External Office to broader public discourse. I believe students will rally behind me because I believe is politics, not partisanship, and representation, not agenda.

2) What is the role of the AMS on the federal stage? On the provincial stage?

The federal government has a relatively indirect role in the lives of students. Besides the Canada Student Loan and bursary programs, and research grants and investment, Ottawa doesn’t directly involve itself with universities too often. However, the federal government deals with a great number of issues in conjunction with the provinces, and in terms of housing, childcare, healthcare, and taxes, the federal government is a good place for students to voice their concerns with greater issues of living in Canada, if not specific student concerns.

The provincial government is the the single most important government entity to students and the AMS should lobby them accordingly. What we have seen over the past two years are protest politics and significant opposition affiliation as the only means of lobbying. This isn’t effective, nor is it beneficial for the image of the AMS. Our role, as the largest school in the province, is to collaborate with other schools and present a unified student voice to Victoria, professionally seeking concessions that improve the lives of students. The AMS should be putting far more energy into meeting with officials and people that have influence and less into protest tactics.

3) How should the AMS use the other BC Student Societies?

With SFU having just left CFS, and UVic in the process of leaving, we are presented with a unique opportunity for the 3 oldest and largest schools in the province to come together, either as collaborative independent schools or as a formal coalition, to lobby the provincial and municipal governments in the interests of students the province over. We are stronger together, and should not let this opportunity pass us by. The AMS was instrumental in the creation of CASA, and it is more than possible for us to take the lead on the establishment of a BC student lobby organization.

4) In light of the AMS’s recent decision to leave CASA, how do you best feel the money previously directed to CASA fees can be best used to advance the AMS’s lobbying priorities?

I believe the AMS has not put enough money into effective lobbying, and I would put this money towards the establishment of the aforementioned BC student lobby organization. We will be saving a great deal of money by not paying CASA fees, but the AMS is also facing a structural deficit, so dealing with the deficit will likely take priority, but this organization needs to take second place.

5) How do you feel the AMS can most effectively lobby the provincial and federal governments?

As mentioned before, by coming together with partner schools in a formal organization with a unified position on student issues. The AMS has not nearly been throwing its weight around enough the past few years, taking up petty partisan attacks and flaccid arts and crafts campaigns to get Victoria’s attention. But it doesn’t matter how loud one’s megaphone is, they can’t hear us in Victoria from our soapboxes in Vancouver. We need to meet them face to face, with the professionalism and respect we expect from them, to effectively represent the needs of students.


Name: Stas Pavlov
Age: 19
Year: 2
Faculty and program: Commerce
Years on campus: 2
Past campus involvement: CUS Board of Directors, Public Relations with Enterprize Canada, Social Team for JDC West 2010 UBC Team.
Past non-campus involvement: Co-Founder of the Youth Combating Intolerance Group in Victoria

1) Why will students rally behind you?

Due to the recent instability of the external portfolio, students are looking for three specific traits: rationality, competency and a fresh outlook – and I meet those criteria. I am coming into this election with a completely new point of view of issues that surround the AMS, a rational mind and proven track record of achieving results though building relationships. There may be an argument made about the lack of experience with the AMS and as it stands, I have not been involved in the society to this day. However, with the help of staff that works with the executive committee, I will be learn any missing information in a matter of a couple of weeks while remaining the most competent and rational candidate with a fresh direction.

2) What is the role of the AMS on the federal stage? On the provincial stage?

The AMS should have only one goal in mind – ensuring that students’ needs and values are met. There is nothing that the external office can (or should) do to ensure that a government with a particular political ideology. The external office must be able and willing to work with any politician or political party without involving their own personal political beliefs and interests. The role of the AMS VP External is to represent student views and address their concerns on federal and provincial levels, and that is what I am prepared to do.

3) How should the AMS use the other BC Student Societies?

The AMS is one of the more advanced student societies in BC but unfortunately its credibility with external organizations has dropped significantly. In order for us to take a lead role in lobbying with other BC student societies, we need to rebuild our relationships with the government and re-establish our network with the university. This is not to say that a province wide organization could not exist a few years down the road, but at this point in time it is important to remain in direct communication with other post-secondary institutions while taking care of UBC students.

4) In light of the AMS’s recent decision to leave CASA, how do you best feel the money previously directed to CASA fees can be best used to advance the AMS’s lobbying priorities?

Funds that were previously directed to CASA can be allocated to working with the university as well as other student societies to lobby the government. Now I am not talking about starting a province-wide organization (as stated above) but about financing our own “lobby days” as well as perhaps a joint lobbying day between the AMS and other student societies.

5) How do you feel the AMS can most effectively lobby the provincial and federal governments?

In order to successfully lobby the provincial and federal governments the AMS must build its relationships with the governments themselves as well as the university. First, if the governments do not take the AMS seriously due to past or current actions of the society, the AMS will hold no lobbying power. In addition, after sitting down with Stephen Owen (the UBC VP External) for a quick meeting it became very clear to me that if the AMS joined forces with the university in their lobbying processes, as the two organizations have much more credibility together than on their own.


Name: Timothy Chu
Age: (I prefer not to disclose this information as I don’t think it’s really relevant – although if you ask around, you would find out.)
Year: 3 ¾
Faculty and program: Arts – Double Major in Political Science and Physical Geography
Years on campus: 4
Past campus involvement: Former Arts Councillor, current VP External, volunteer for Humanities 101
Past non-campus involvement: Income assistance advocacy, tenant rights advocacy, fundraising for Amnesty International

1) Why will students rally behind you?

I feel students will rally behind me because I am the only candidate in the race for VP External who brings forward a truly progressive platform. Whether it is my approach on tuition fees, student financial assistance or making the AMS more inclusive to all, I have a well known and strong position on these issues. I believe in working towards reducing tuition fees, increasing funding for our University and increasing student financial assistance.

I feel that students will also rally behind me because I am strong advocate for education. I am not afraid to criticize the government or the University when funding cuts occur or tuition fees increase. With tuition fees doubling in the past 8 years and funding and student financial assistance being cut by over $77 million in the past two years, we need a VP External that will actually stand up for students.

2) What is the role of the AMS on the federal stage? On the provincial stage?

The AMS needs to realize that we are the largest student union in Canada representing over 45 000 students and we need to use that to our advantage in lobbying the various levels of government.

Despite the fact that education is under the direct jurisdiction of provincial governments, the federal government has a huge role in post-secondary education. As VP External, I will lobby for the creation of a ministry of education on the federal level. Currently, the federal government does not have a ministry of education or a minister of education. Therefore, there is no “go-to” person when a problem arises on the federal level in regards to post-secondary education. As VP External, I will work towards increasing the Canada Social Transfers to our provinces which are specifically earmarked towards post-secondary education.
I will also lobby to create a national post-secondary education strategy as currently we do not have one.

On the provincial level, if re-elected as VP External, I will work on several priorities. First, we need to start lobbying the government for reduced tuition fees, increased government funding and increased student financial assistance. Our University is actually actively lobbying to increase our tuition fees. That needs to stop and we need to tell the provincial government, who has ultimate jurisdiction over this issue, that any increases in tuition fees are unacceptable. Secondly, we need to push towards reducing the interest rates on student loans. It is not acceptable that the government is profiting off the interest rates on student loans. We also need to be at the fore-front in supporting transit service increases to UBC, in particular the UBC Line. These are some of the issues that I will be working on if re-elected as VP External.

3) How should the AMS use the other BC Student Societies?

I don’t necessarily feel that the AMS should “use” the other student unions in BC. We should be working with the other student unions to achieve common goals. Although the AMS alone represents over 40% of students in BC, we need to build partnerships with other student unions in BC in order to achieve our objectives. We need the support of other student unions in BC and across Canada and we need to support other student unions and their initiatives. During the past year, we have built incredible relationships with the other student unions and we have been successful on various fronts. For example, due to the joint submission by various student unions to Translink in regards to the YVR AddFare (the additional fee for users going to the airport on the Canada Line), U-Pass holders have been exempt from this $5.00 additional fee.

4) In light of the AMS’s recent decision to leave CASA, how do you best feel the money previously directed to CASA fees can be best used to advance the AMS’s lobbying priorities?

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), a federal lobbying organization, was charging the AMS between $30,000 – $60,000 per year for fees. AMS Council recently decided to disaffiliate with CASA. I feel that this money should be separated into two budgets, one for provincial lobbying and the other for lobbying on the federal stage. Lobbying the provincial government is incredible important and we need to focus on provincial government lobbying as it directly affects students. We should take this money and run public awareness campaigns to engage students and get them involved to place direct pressure on the elected officials. We need to take the money to mobilize and organize students to become a formidable force to lobby government. In previous years, the External Office have been strapped for funding and hence it limited the ability to lobby. We need to fund the External Office adequately so it can do the important work it is supposed to do.

5) How do you feel the AMS can most effectively lobby the provincial and federal governments?

As mentioned above, the AMS is unique because we are the largest student union in Canada. We represent over 45,000 students and we need to take this fact and use it to place direct pressure on our elected officials. Effective lobbying is achieved when there is public support for the issue and when the politicians feel threatened that they may lose their seat next election. We need students to come forward to garner support from the community and make education not just an issue exclusive to students but to the entire community. After finding the public support, we need to relay that message in meetings with Ministers. I would also add that it is not enough to just point out the problem, the AMS needs to rely on well-researched policy alternatives so we can recommend them to the various levels of government.

6) If elected, what will you do differently this year than last?

If re-elected, I will focus more on the issue of tuition fees. Not only would I work to change the current AMS tuition fee policy, which states that it is acceptable for tuition fees to increase, but I would bring the issue of tuition fees to the front. We are at crossroads for our education system. Our University is actively lobbying the provincial government to substantially increase tuition fees. At the same time, our student financial assistance and funding to our University is being cut. We need a strong VP External that will be unbending in championing the cause of students. If re-elected, I will lobby for reduced tuition fees, increased government funding and increased student financial assistance.


9 Comments so far

  1. Jim Dolly on January 21, 2010 7:24 pm

    I have posted a comment that was critical of Ubyssey’s reporting on the last debate – they misrepresent pretty much every candidate and provide very little in terms of actual quotes or information about their published platforms. I do not believe this is good use of student money. It happens that they deleted my postings. Is this right? Do you think it is fair for the Ubyssey to take student money and to censor student opinions which do not agree with theirs? Does the Insider allow for people to be critical of its articles? Is there anything we can do to make the Ubyssey more transparent?

  2. Neal Yonson on January 21, 2010 7:35 pm

    Jim, read the comments and I’m sure you will find comments critical of us. From time to time we will delete comments that are obvious spam (we have never written about payday loans) but otherwise do not touch them.

    The Ubyssey will be publishing their full elections supplement in next Monday’s issue which will have profiles of every single candidate that responded to them.

    The Ubyssey’s bylaws require them to publish all letters they receive, so perhaps you would like to take that route.

  3. Nathan Hale on January 21, 2010 7:36 pm

    The Ubyssey’s site eats comments, it may not be intentional. I would find it very odd that they would be censuring, since I would assume they would be all for freedom of speech and whatnot.

    Write a letter? Word on the street is that the Ubyssey is required to print every letter to the editor they receive, but I do not know if that is fact or rumor.

  4. Jim Dolly on January 21, 2010 8:03 pm

    Funny that, when I posted supportive comments on non-elections related articles, as a trap, they did not get deleted. What is really going on here? You can try it yourself – be critical of their take on the article on the BOG race, and you will see what happens.

  5. Alex Lougheed on January 21, 2010 8:21 pm

    Their website kind of really sucks. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a bug. Also, Neal’s suggestion of writing a letter is a good idea. Can’t bug out of that one. :)

  6. Jim Dolly on January 21, 2010 8:28 pm

    You’re totally right – the blogs this year are kicking some serious arse, as far as I am concerned. The Insiders are doing an amazing job – I really wish you guys had a print version of your elections supplement. I also remember seeing much better coverage and promotion of the elections in the past, especially under Lougheed. Who’s job is it to promote the elections this year, and why do we see so little promotion?

  7. Rory on January 21, 2010 10:51 pm

    Aaron was a ridiculously adorable child. What does the “Z” stand for?

  8. johnny harpoon on January 25, 2010 10:42 am

    i know what the “z” stands for. but i’m not telling.

  9. Jordan on May 14, 2013 3:55 pm

    Timothy chu because he is ndp

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet