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Message from Brenna Clarke Gray, co-organizer of the F’ton demos

November 27, 2007

I woke up this morning with a stomach full of nerves.  Now, I may be an English student, but even I can do basic math, and I’m well aware that rain + late november + outdoor rally = low attendance.  But though numbers were low today (and I’m pretty sure that at one time, we were out-numbered by the members of the press who came out to cover our action), spirits were high, and we certainly gave a feisty march to the legislature.  Andrea and I gave our usual speeches of statistics and laughter, and Greg Shupak helped us out on the megaphone by leading the chanting at the legislature.  We were also joined by the newly elected leader of the NDP, Roger Duguay, who gave an excellent speech decrying the report of the CPSE.

I would like to say that I am grateful beyond words for our Saint John contingent, who braved what I’m sure was a non-too-pleasant drive up to stand with us in the rain and scream our hearts out.  And of course, I would be remiss if I did not thank the supportive AUNBT and FAUST members who joined our cause.  As I say, we were small, but our voices were powerful, and I have hope that they carried to Mr. Graham (or should I say, Shawn — we were informed by a recent floor-crossing MLA that his preference for such a casual designation is evidence of his superior leadership).

We were surprised as our rally wound down with a visit from Conservative Woodstock MLA David Alward, who offered us tickets to go in and see the Throne Speech as his personal guests.  We gratefully accepted, and Andrea, Greg and I returned to the legislature at 3 pm to witness the speech for ourselves.

I found one thing interesting: Andrea, Greg and I all had to remove any political affiliation from our clothing — our pro-student movement buttons and our rally marshal armbands.  We were happy to do it, as Alward had asked us to please respect the ceremony of the Throne Speech process even if we disagreed with the content of speech itself.  I should say, we were happy to do it until we noticed that the men sitting behind us were apparently not asked to remove their buttons proclaiming their involvement in the CanDo business alliance that was mentioned in the Throne Speech.  Hmmmmm….

Anyway, we all know what the Throne Speech was… a lot of nothing on the matter of post-secondary education in this province.  I think the speech is actually progressive in a lot of ways, and many of the pieces of legislation proposed will be wonderful, particularly regarding domestic violence, learning disabilities, check-cashing agencies, Service New Brunswick, and tax relief for low-income homeowners.  As always, though, platitudes obscure the view to reality, and there was no real action plan available.  I’m disappointed in Premier Graham (sorry, Shawn) and his lack of leadership — if he can’t see that his silence on the CPSE report is death by papercuts to all post-secondary education in this province, then I fear he may be a lost cause.

Thank you again to everyone who made an effort to come to Fredericton or to get the word out.

In solidarity always,

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