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Students party in protest

By Laura ParleeAssistant News Editor

The Canadian Federation of Students in Nova Scotia is fed up with broken promises, and the group was willing to celebrate to have their voices heard.
The group held a New Year’s Eve party outside One Government Place on Thursday morning, rallying against high tuition costs in Nova Scotia.
Holding up a banner that read, “Education shouldn’t be a debt sentence”, the students presented a petition to the provincial government asking for increased funding for universities to match the national average, a reduction of tuition, more grants and less loans.
The petition has been circulating since last February, and has collected almost 3,000 signatures.
Kaley Kennedy presented the petition to the deputy education minister Dennis Cochran outside the building after spending 30 minutes blaring party tunes and chanting: “We will not give up the fight. Education is our right.”
The federation originally planned to hand the petition to Premier Darrell Dexter, but he and Education Minister Marilyn More were unavailable due to emergency drills for the provincial government members.
After the petition was handed over, the real party began.
In true new year’s fashion, the students adorned shiny party hats, tooted party horns, then counted down and popped sparkling grape juice with shouts of “Happy New Year!”
“Let’s hope 2010 is filled with no more broken promises,” said Jake Byrne, the Nova Scotia Representative for the CFS.
Many students were hoping the election of an NDP government would mean tuition cuts, but so far the NDP’s only policies on post-secondary education have been a graduate retention tax credit program that seeks to retain graduates in N.S., and the creation of 250 more seats at the Nova Scotia Community College.
J.D. Hutton is a long time NDP supporter. He helped campaign for the party this summer when the NDP were elected with a landslide victory. Hutton says he still supports the party, but he is disappointed with their lack of initiative on tuition.
“The NDP has been promising tuition cuts for a long time,” he says. “I don’t want to be out here. I don’t want to be in debt … I’d like to see some cuts.”
In an interview last September, Dexter said tuition was still important to his government, but not now.
“We live in a particular reality of shrinking economies … We’re suffering from the same thing as everyone else is suffering from,” said Dexter. “There are going to be trade offs of one sort or another.”
Byrne and Kyle Buott gave rousing speeches to the crowd, and encouraged students to share new year’s resolutions from their protest signs.
“Let’s remind the NDP government who elected them,” said Buott, president of the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council. He said the labour unions “stand in solidarity” with the student movement.
Nicolas Gall held a sign saying he resolved to get a fourth job, even if it meant having to give up sleep or miss classes.
Gall was recently elected to the King’s Student Union as external vice president and worked with Maritimes Organizer of the CFS, Rebecca Rose, to help organize the rally.
He says his real resolution is to keep students aware of tuition issues.
Finance Minister Graham Steele will hold public consultations across the province about balancing the budget. Students hope the petition will be an important part of considerations. The new budget is in the works for March.

Opinions Editor Kaley Kennedy helped to promote this rally, but she did not contribute to the editing or reporting of this article.

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