It’s times like this I wish I sat on Council

Tuesday, 23 September 2003 — 10:46pm | Studentpolitik

Why?

To offer more vocal opposition against junk motions like the Political Policy that the Students’ Union opposes the proposed tobacco ban, so we don’t end up with meetings like tonight’s Council where such a policy actually passes. Read it in the Late Additions package and tell me how people could possibly think this is a good idea, given that the reasons provided are for the most part simply uninformed, or included for the sake of padding out the appearance of a rationale behind the document.

Not only is the issue of second-hand smoke completely left by the wayside, never mind that it’s a focal point of any talk of a smoking prohibition; but arguments such as the one concerning students in residence are completely misrepresenting the issue. If anything, the fact that smoking is already prohibited in residence – generally regarded as a good thing by the residents themselves – sets a precedent for the direction that the rest of campus should follow. That this is going to lead to people going off campus and disturbing the neighbours is a flimsy straw man; Lister residents already go off campus for their frequent excursions of drunken debauchery at places like Duke’s Donair. Considering that the City of Edmonton will have phased out smoking in public a year before this SU Political Policy even expires, this is clearly an ill-founded act of ignorance defying the growing belief in our society that smoking is no longer socially acceptable.

Fortunately, the campus-wide smoking ban itself will most likely pass at the Board of Governors. However, regardless of one’s stance on the issue of the prohibition, the Students’ Union has no business indulging itself in a statement of beliefs that is not just opposed, but clearly detrimental to a good segment the students it represents. Apparently, Council still has no concept of just how dangerous it is to assume universal stances on controversial issues. If anything, the undercurrent of the student body viewing the SU as not being representative of their views is more justified than ever before.

There are some good Gateway reads on either side of the campus smoking ban issue: Kristine Owram defends the notion of choice, Mark Barker reminds us that smoking is on its way out, and Chris Boutet calls the proposed ban unenforceable.

On the other hand, the Separation of Powers case advocated by Councilor Smith looked particularly strong tonight when it was introduced after the 9pm roll call, after which Councilors had fulfilled their attendance requirement. The segregation of the judiciary branch from Council’s duties was well-received and passed unanimously, though it was separated from the rest of the motion regarding the separation of executive and legislative functions. That in itself was unsurprising, as the need for that was very clearly demonstrated by a half-hour in camera bylaw interpretation debate incited by Paul Reikie’s appeal to be reinstated to Council, which meant that the Agenda was not even approved until an hour and forty-five minutes into the meeting.

The issue of executive and legislative separation saw some opening fireworks from both sides as it ran the Second Reading gauntlet, but was tabled to the next meeting. Naturally, this means more fun and games on the Webboard.

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