By Steve Petrick
After a low turnout of student protesters last year, the Canadian Federation of Students has decided to get the ball rolling early.
That’s why CFS launched its Access 2000 campaign Sept. 22 at Ryerson, five months before its February protest.
Joel Harden, Ontario chair of CFS and a York University student, said the group will demand the federal government invest $3.7 billion of its surplus in education in the next budget.
For a successful rally, however, Harden knows there must be many student participants.
He said last year’s rally in October was pathetic, with only 600 students showing up at Queen’s Park.
“The problem is so bad we can’t leave it to the usual suspects to speak on our behalf,” Harden said. “We can’t leave it to the activists. Nothing scares politicians more than numbers of people protesting all under the same banner.”
To get more protesters at the rally, the CFS is having this year’s rally on Feb. 2, giving itself some time to prepare students.
“‘Strike’ or ‘Day of Action’ might cause someone to say ‘I don’t do protests’ and immediately shut down and not want to hear about it,” RyeSAC president Erin George said. “Access 2000 can get people talking.”
Tuition fees have soared 134 per cent in Ontario this decade alone, according to Statistics Canada.
Harden is hoping for a protest similar to one in 1995, attended by 14,000 students.
“It was regarded as something that wasn’t an ultra left-activist thing to do,” he said. “It was regarded as something that was fun and necessary and that’s what we have to do.”