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Photo by Saima Asad

SU presidential candidate forum wraps up executive forums

By Scott Strasser, March 6 2017 —

The fifth and final executive forum of the 2017 Students’ Union election took place on March 6 in MacHall. The forum featured presidential candidates Steeven Toor, Graham Duff and Branden Cave.

After the Gauntlet’s Great SU Presidential Debate on March 2, this was the final chance for the candidates to answer questions about their platforms in a formal setting. Current SU president Stephan Guscott moderated the forum, which included opening and closing addresses, moderator questions and audience questions.

Duff gave his address first. His platform includes simplifying how the SU’s annual budget is published, increasing employment and internship opportunities for students and improving U of C student voter turnout for the upcoming Calgary municipal election.

“My campaign theme is Toy Story because ‘you have a friend in me’,” Duff said. “I wanted my theme to be Toy Story to reflect the positivity of my platform.”

Toor touted his emphasis on diversity and inclusivity in his opening address. His platform includes creating a “diversity fund” for innovative ideas to combat discrimination, increasing student representation on the U of C Board of Governors’ standing committees and pursuing roaming office hours.

“I’m running on the theme of Thomas the train — Thomas is blue, his friends are red, orange and green, they’re different shapes and sizes, but they all get along and they’re all friends,” Toor said. “That’s what I want to see on this campus. I want to see that diversity, inclusivity and friendship immersed throughout the year.”

Cave — who is running on a theme of “No Bullshit” — spoke about how he has developed a passion for student advocacy in his five years at the U of C. Cave’s platform features creating a president’s consultative task force, ensuring student spaces are prioritized in future renovations on campus and making sure voting booths are at the U of C for the upcoming municipal election.

“I came to campus five years ago — way back in 2012 — from a farm, and moved into residence. The first thing that amazed me was the community I had there,” Cave said. “As I started to leave residence and move into the rest of the campus community, I noticed there was a lack of cohesion, or community. I’ve made it my mission over the last five years [to] make a home on campus for students where they’ll feel welcome.”

Guscott’s first question to the candidates was their stance on the MacHall ownership dispute and how they feel the SU has dealt with it thus far. All three candidates shared similar sentiments on the issue — that a practical and amicable agreement with U of C administration is the way to go.

Guscott also asked the candidates how the president’s “boundaries” should be defined when it comes to working with the other SU executives, what external advocacy pillars they feel are most important and what their definition of leadership is.

Questions from the audience included what the three candidates’ stances are on the current labour dispute between Aramark and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, if they felt roaming office hours would be realistic and why they should be trusted by students to achieve their platform points while in office.

The most interesting moment of the forum was when an audience member asked the candidates to criticize their opponents. Toor misheard the question and commended the other two instead. Duff and Cave followed suit and said positive things about their opponents, instead of criticizing.

Fourth-year ecology student Adam Watson attended the forum and said he felt all three candidates performed well.

“I feel personally that a lot of their points are similar and you could hear that when they were answering questions, a lot of times they were agreeing,” he said.

Voting for the SU election begins tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. and is open until Thursday, March 9 at 4:30 p.m. Students can vote online through their student centre.

For the Gauntlet’s review of the three presidential candidates, click here.

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