That is how Federal Liberal leader Stéphane Dion described the amount of culture in Stephen Harper‘s Conservative Party following recent cuts to arts and culture funding. Dion was pre-campaigning in Edmonton yesterday and made an afternoon stop at the University of Alberta. This being Alberta, I was surprised to be packed in a 250 person lecture theatre filled with Albertans wanting to catch a glimpse of a Federal Liberal (with over 200 people listening from outside). Dion gave a short and quick stump speech which focused generally on the Green Shift, which is what I expect his upcoming campaign speeches to resemble — short and green.
The hour-long question and answer period was worth attending and included a wide-range of questions including an student affordability question from U of A Students’ Union Vice-President (External) Beverly Eastham, to which Dion replied that students would be very pleased when the Liberal’s released their Post-Secondary Education policy during the campaign (we shall see…). Other questions covered a broad-range of issues including Darfur, Afghanistan, climate change, affordable housing, free trade, culture funding, and education.
I found Dion’s response to a question about the Athabasca/Fort McMurray oil sands a little confusing, as I believe that he suggested that the oil sands could become sustainable. I’m not a scientist, but I’m fairly sure that a heavily exploited non-renewable natural resource does not easily fall into the “sustainable” category (but Dion did promise lots of research funding for the University of Alberta to make it so…).
On a final note, I very much enjoyed the two of militant young Campus Conservatives who were handing out anti-carbon tax sheets outside the event and donning their yellow anti-Dion t-shirts (they almost fit in with the Greenpeace Stop the Tarsands campaigners, who were there in force).