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City considering limited online voting in municipal elections

OTTAWA—OTTAWA IS LOOKING to let some people vote online in the next municipal election. The vote tabulators put into use in 1997 are now at the end of their suggested life cycle and need to be replaced.

Voters currently fill out paper ballots that are tabulated by counting machines, which are then connected to a central server that combines the tallies in one final count. In addition to this basic system, there will be potential for Internet voting in limited circumstances, such as for an advance vote process.

One requirement for the new machines is that they still work with paper ballots in case a recount is needed. However, the city is also interested in machines that can report their tallies not just through physical network cables but also through digital and analog phone lines and over secure wireless connections.

—Marie Hoekstra

Ontario Liberals come under attack about high school graduation rates


TORONTO—OPPOSITION PARTIES ARE accusing the Ontario Liberal Party of including students who take five years to complete high school in their graduation rates.

Ontario moved to a four-year high school model in 2003, but the Liberals are including students who take a “victory lap” in their presented graduation rate statistics.

The government reported an 82 per cent graduation rate for last year, but only 73 per cent of students completed high school within four years.

Lisa MacLeod, an Ontario Progressive Conservative education critic, criticized the Liberals for how they measure grad rates and the amount of money they have given the education system.

Jim McCarter, the auditor general of Ontario, has agreed with opposition parties, saying that by reporting only four-year graduation rates, the government would get a better picture on how schools can deliver the curriculum in the allotted time.

—Sofia Hashi

Quebec student tuition protest ends in violence 


MONTREAL (CUP)—AN IMPROMPTU AND lively student protest against tuition hikes worked its way through Montreal’s busy downtown streets March 7.

The protest started at Square-Victoria, where urban studies students from the Université du Québec à Montréal wrapped trees and other objects in the park in red fabric, a symbol of the student movement against tuition increases.

The protest soon turned violent when students attempted to block the entrance of the Loto-Québec building, which holds the offices for the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities (CREPUQ). CREPUQ’s offices were being protested due to the organization’s support for the government’s tuition hikes.

Riot police stepped in and removed the students. They used tear gas to disperse the protesters, four of whom were injured.

The Coalition large de l’ASSE (CLASSE), an umbrella student union representing over 80,000 Quebec students, issued a statement late on March 7 reporting that a CÉGEP Saint-Jérôme student had been hit in the eye by a stun grenade from point blank range and had to be rushed to the hospital. According to a spokesperson for CLASSE, there is a strong chance he will lose sight in that eye from the injury.

—Pierre Chauvin and Julian Ward, the Link    


Protesters removed from University of Alberta honourary degree ceremony


EDMONTON (CUP)—SHOUTING PROTESTERS WERE forcibly escorted from a University of Alberta honourary degree ceremony March 1 after taking contention with one of the degree recipients.

Demonstrators sat in on the ceremony, waiting until Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe was introduced before booing loudly and directing cries of “shame on you” toward him and university administrators.

Protesters took issue with the U of A’s decision to honour Brabeck-Letmathe, due to his ties with Nestlé. The corporation has been mired in controversy for years over child labour issues and the promotion of infant formula in developing countries.

Laurie Adkin, a political science professor at the U of A, said the public debate sparked by the honourary degree is not only about approaches to water regulation, but also about which interests the university has a mission to serve.

—April Hudson, Ravanne Lawday, the Gateway