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Society Profile: Dalhousie Progressive Conservatives

 

The Dal Progressive Conservatives are well aware that Canadian universities are usually left-leaning types of places.

But that hasn’t stopped this newly revived club from being vocal on campus about Conservative policies, ideals and student engagement in politics.

Paige Black is president of the Dal PCs, as well as the Nova Scotia Young Progressive Conservatives.

A third-year student in International Development Studies, Black has been involved with the Dal PCs since 2014.

“The Dal PCs have existed on campus for a long time, but have come and gone. Last November I got it started again,” she says.

While the Dal PC club is relatively small, with only 15 members, they have nonetheless been very active in the months since they started back up.

Last year, the Dal PCs attended the Progressive Conservative Annual General Meeting in Nova Scotia, as well as a federal conference in Ottawa.

“We try and give our members the opportunity to be involved federally if they want: give them the skills, connect them with the right people if they want to be involved in campaigns and things. But a lot of what we do through the society focuses on provincial politics,” says Black.

The work of the Dal PCs is not focused uniquely on Conservative politics, however: they have collaborated with other on-campus political clubs to organize events and promote political engagement in the student body.

One such event was Women In Politics, a multi-partisan evening held last March. Women from the Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic parties with portfolios in all three levels of government participated in this event that Black hopes to make an annual occurrence.

While inter-club cooperation has been strong, Black has faced some negativity from other students on campus.

“Being on campus as a Conservative is really hard … especially a couple of years ago, I had a really hard time discussing my ideas in class, with people just having no respect for the fact that it was my opinion, even when I was respecting theirs … It’s hard too when professors disown your opinions in class,” she says.

Critique and opposition against Prime Minister Stepher Harper have been widespread on-campus and across the country. The Dal PCs have focused their efforts on promoting respectful discussion, as opposed to challenging these opinions.

“We understand that people have very strong opinions about the policies of the Prime Minister, and if anything we just encourage them to be respectful. We can understand if you don’t want to vote for him, but we do just ask for that level of respect. We focus mostly on provincial politics, but again it is Conservative ideals,” says Black.

This focus on provincial politics has been a priority for the Dal PCs. Black believes that the policies of the PC Party of Nova Scotia hold a lot of appeal for youth, with their focus on mental health programs, job creation and apprenticeship initiatives.

“Youth issues are important across the country, but especially in Nova Scotia: all of our young people are leaving! I grew up in Oxford, Nova Scotia, and a lot of the people I went to high school with are leaving and going to Alberta,” she says.

“I don’t want to be the student that has to leave. I grew up here, my family has been here on the same plot of land in rural Nova Scotia since the 1700s: I want to stay here so badly, and it bothers me that I don’t feel like that focus is being brought forward enough.”

Eleanor Davidson
Eleanor Davidson
Eleanor is the Gazette's News Editor.
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