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Youth unemployment at 30%
Study finds problems with Canada's unemployment rate

Buy Nothing Day this Friday
Anti-consumerism day geared up to shut businesses down

Student debt plan useless: CFS
Rival student organizations bicker over loan policies

Mass protest at U of T over Bush degree
Ex-U.S. President greeted by burning flags, flying snowballs, angry mob

Who's the sexiest of them all?
Canadians have lots of sex but don't do it well says survey

Youth unemployment at 30%
Study finds problems with Canada's unemployment rate
By Jeremy Nelson, News Editor

Looking forward to a well-paying, stable job when you graduate? Well, you might want to a take a reality check, because according to a recently released report, the last time job prospects for Canada's youth were as bad as they are now was during the Great Depression.

Published by the research department of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), the report, entitled The Job Crisis, contains shocking revelations about unemployment in Canada, not the least of which is the study's finding that the youth unemployment now sits at more than 30 per cent.

Drawing upon information provided by Statistics Canada, the study found that official unemployment-rate calculations do not take into account the number of people who have simply given up looking for work. When these numbers are included, the overall unemployment rate rises from nine per cent to in excess of 13 per cent. The youth unemployment rate rises from the official 17 per cent to nearly 34 per cent.

Federal NDP youth critic Libby Davies says she has always been suspicious of the official unemployment-rate figures, but never guessed that the youth unemployment rate was as high as the report says.

"To hear upwards of 30 per cent as a more realistic figure for youth unemployment is a devastating indictment of government policy," said Davies. "They should be truly ashamed of the situation young people are in today."

According to Davies, the Liberal government has done a lot to hurt Canada's youth, including cutting $2.29 billion from post-secondary education during its last mandate, but has done little to help them.

"So far, we've seen generalities and very righteous talk," Davies said, alluding to the youth promises made in the government's Throne Speech, "but there is no acknowledgement that the Liberal government has to bear full responsibility for the position that young people are now in."

According to the CAW study, the gap between the official unemployment rate and the actual unemployment rate comes from the government's failure to account for the "Labour Force Participation Rate" - the share of working-age Canadians either who are presently working or who want to work and are actively seeking a job.

The report says that youth labour-force participation has fallen from over 70 per cent of Canada's youth in 1990-91 to barely 60 per cent today.

"For young people in Canada," the report warns, "it is no exaggeration to say that the job crisis of the 1990s rivals that of the 1930s: 30% unemployment, dead-end jobs, and falling incomes."

A department official from Human Resources Development Canada said she was unable to comment on the study, however, she did admit that youth unemployment had reached intolerably high levels. But the official, who requested to remain anonymous, says that the government has a comprehensive job-creation strategy, including expanding youth programs to the tune of $3.15 million, which she claims will produce 110,000 jobs over the next three years.

However, Jennifer Story, deputy chair of Canada's largest student organization, says that the government action plan on youth unemployment, which includes such things as internships and international experience programs, is like "shifting deck chairs on the Titanic."

"The government is quick to applaud when the unemployment rate drops," the Canadian Federation of Students deputy chair said, "but they are not so interested in looking at the reality of why that is happening."

Story says that most of the decline in the official unemployment rate can be attributed both to the flight of hundreds of thousands of workers from the labour market and to the chopping up of full-time jobs into part-time positions - not the actual creation of new jobs.

"Why is this acceptable?" Storey asked. "Why isn't government policy stepping in to do anything about [for example] the fact that there are dozens of intensely profitable corporations in Canada who are not obliged to maintain their employment while they're making those high profits?"

For the last seven years, the official Canadian unemployment rate has sat at nine per cent - the longest period of sustained high unemployment since the 1930s. Davies says this number is important to keep in mind, but cautions that even the statistics hide the reality.

"I think it gets easy to become very desensitized to statistics and to forget that these are real, individual people that are impacted," she said.

"I wish that the [Minister of Finance] Paul Martins of the world would listen to young people, because they care passionately about what goes on around them, yet there is this sense of forboding - that their options are narrower and narrower and that no one seems to care."

Asides from questioning the official unemployment rate, the CAW report also calls attention to the increasing number of people who are forced to rely on part-time employment, a fact of which Storey says she is all too aware.

"There are a dangerously high number of young people who are being forced into part-time, sporadic or contract work," Story said, adding that 60 per cent of students employed last summer were working at these sorts of jobs.

"Even when students can [find employment] the average income isn't allowing them to save enough to go to school, so they're having to take out loans."

The study backs up Story's comments. The report says that share of people employed part-time has risen from 15 per cent in the early 80s to more than 20 per cent today, and that one third of all jobs created in the last six years have been part-time.

But the Human Resources Development Canada spokesperson says the government is helping to create more stable, full-time jobs by offering wage subsidies to employers and training in what she says are rapidly expanding fields - technology and international trade and investment.

Nevertheless, both Story and Davies say the government could do better, but they believe that this will happen only if the public applies enormous pressure to deal with the problem.

"The government has pretty much solved the deficit problem in one mandate," Storey said. "If this government set its mind to it, why couldn't it do the same thing for the unemployment problem?"

"You would not think that this is a Liberal government," added Davies. "This is a government that is trying to out-reform Reform."

"We have to work both inside Parliament and outside to fight back on these issues, because it's a really terrible direction that we are going in."

Buy Nothing Day this Friday
Anti-consumerism day geared up to shut businesses down
By Ali Khan, News Reporter

This Friday marks an event that could ideally shut down the western world's capitalist machinery for a day. Called "Buy Nothing Day," the November 28 event is an international day of protest against consumerism, marked by consumer abstinence from making purchases for a 24-hour period.

According to the Vancouver-based Media Foundation, the event's main organizer, "International Buy Nothing Day is a celebration of simplicity. It's about our shop-'til-you-drop lifestyle on a dying planet; it's about getting our runaway consumer culture back onto a sustainable path."

"Particpate by not participating," says the group's poster.

In Winnipeg, the event will be observed by a variety of individuals and groups.

John Carpenter, director of programming for the University of Winnipeg Students' Association (UWSA), says the event is much like a hunger strike - a day where "everyone says no to the corporate machine."

Carpenter says the UWSA plans to celebrate the event with a pot-luck dinner followed by a concert. In keeping with the spirit of Buy Nothing Day, however, no cash purchases will be necessary.

According to Adbusters, a magazine published by the Media Foundation, it is only recently that Buy Nothing Day has been internationally observed.

"Last year, in 10 countries around the world, people postered their cities, held critical-mass rallies, organized credit-card cut-ups at malls, performed street theatre. It was the biggest spontaneous consumer outburst the world had seen."

"We're just doing something we think is appropriate," adds Carpenter. "The point is that everybody stops spending money for one day [and] then hopefully everything grinds to a halt."

The main purpose of the annual event, says Carpenter, is to bring attention to rampant consumerism and begin the process of fostering a culture that respects the limits of the earth's ecological resources, which are being endangered.

Asked whether Buy Nothing Day has had any significant impact at all in getting people's attention and changing lifestyles, Carpenter replied: "Uh...nope. I doubt it has worked. It would be great if it did work, but I think it would take a concerted effort."

Not everyone is enthusiastic about Buy Nothing Day. An anonymous individual from the Mondragón collective, which runs a Winnipeg restaurant and bookstore specializing in political and social literature and performance, said that Mondragón does not officially endorse the event, but concedes that topinions among individuals vary.

She herself "would rather see people enter into businesses that are environmentally conscious. There are a lot of better places to put your money, instead of just buying nothing."

Another member mentions that Mondragón does not officially support or oppose the event, but points out that Buy Nothing Day does not go against Mondragón's philosophy. "We have respect for our customers, more as allies, rather than as consumers. We don't sell things only for commercial gain."

But while abivalence toward the event at Mondragón is relatively sedate, other groups have not been so pleased by Buy Nothing Day.

Adbusters has attemped on numerous occasions to buy advertising on major television networks to promote Buy Nothing Day, but has met with stiff resistance from business representatives.

CBS stated that it would not run the advertisements for the upcoming Buy Nothing Day, because they take "an advocacy position on one side of a controversial issue" and because the ads belong to the Media Foundation, which CBS describes as an advocacy organization for "controversial issues."

Other stations, including NBC and ABC, have also refused to air Buy Nothing Day advertisments.

Nevertheless, the organizers of Buy Nothing Day remain committed to a day free from consumerism and encourage supporters worldwide to pool their money to make their own ads and air them on community public-access stations for free.

Student debt plan useless: CFS
Rival student organizations bicker over loan policies
By David Cochrane

OTTAWA (CUP) - A national student lobby group has released a document proposing sweeping changes to the Canada Student Loan Program that it says would be more sensitive to graduate income levels.

But a rival student group says the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is trying to pass off other people's ideas as its own.

The alliance released its Real Solutions document on November 12, the centrepiece of which is the CASA Income-Based Remission Program. The alliance says its 15-year "income sensitive" repayment scheme, which is broken into two phases, will eliminate student loan defaults. The federal government reports that 25 per cent of all student loans currently go into default.

Under the plan, interest payments on student loans for the first five years after graduation would be subsidized by the federal government so graduates wouldn't be forced to default if loan payments exceed ability to pay. Students will be reassessed annually to see if they qualify for further assistance.

During the final 10 years of the plan, the federal government would help low-income graduates pay off the loan principal as well as interest. Any money not paid back after 15 years would be forgiven by the federal government.

"It is intended to eliminate defaults and is intended not to require a great deal of an increase in support from the federal government," Hoops Harrison, the alliance's national director, said.

Whatever the intent, the Canadian Federation of Students wants no part of CASA's plan. Brad Lavigne, national chairperson of the more activist federation, called the CASA document "useless" and said the repayment plan does nothing to address rising student debt levels, which currently average $25,000 for students who borrow.

"[The federation] isn't interested in negotiating repayment for bigger loans," Lavigne said. "We're interested in negotiating reduction in the size of loans."

Nevertheless, the University of Manitoba Students' Union (UMSU) wholeheartedly defends the plan.

"We are not saying that everthing has to focus on loan repayment," said UMSU Vice-President Andrea Pratt. "We were also asking for more grants and scholarships."

UMSU is a member of CASA, and has recently launched its "Student Debt Sux" campaign centered around a petition calling on the government to adopt many of the debt policies proposed by the CASA plan.

Pratt says she is not offended by CFS's harsh criticisms of the CASA plan, because "CFS has a different philosophy, but we are both fighting for the same things."

The alliance did put forward some debt reduction measures in its document, mostly through targeted grants and scholarships or changes to the income tax system. The alliance, for example, wants the Liberals to provide grants of up to $2,000 for first-year students and up to $1,000 through the recently announced $1-billion Millennium Scholarship Fund. It also wants to see a $3,000 grant made available to married and single student-parents with dependents and the interest on student loans made tax deductible.

The alliance also called for the freezing of tuition fees and the creation of a national education act in its document.

But Lavigne says none of these ideas are original. Most, he says, have been proposed in the past by the federation. A federation policy document from May of last year makes mention of both a tuition freeze and a national education agreement.

And the idea for the $3,000 grant for students with dependents was put forward previously by the federation to the House of Commons Finance Committee in October, 1996, and it has in turn been proposed by the federal government. The CASA grant recommendation echoes these prior proposals - to the exact dollar amount.

"Next thing they're going to recommend the capital of Canada should be in Ottawa," Lavigne said.

Harrison admits there is a strong similarity between the alliance's proposals and those already presented by other lobby groups and various levels of government. But he says CASA's proposals only look so familiar because the government and others have been listen when the alliance speaks.

Mass protest at U of T over Bush degree
Ex-U.S. President greeted by burning flags, flying snowballs, angry mob
By Dorsa Jabbari, Carla Tonelli and Jeremy Nelson

TORONTO - Despite cries of protest from staff, students and activists around the world, former U.S. President George Bush received his honorary degree from the University of Toronto last week at a ceremony that neither Bush nor U of T administrators are likely soon to forget.

About 1,000 protesters butted heads with RCMP officers, city police and secret-service agents along the heavily guarded walkway outside Hart House, the campus building where the event was held.

Banging drums, burning American flags, and throwing snowballs at the ceremonial guests, the protestors turned the normally still walkway into a guantlet, clamouring around well-secured barricades to scream insults and condemnations at all who entered.

And while guests like Ontario Premier Mike Harris and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney were verbally assualted by protestors, much of the crowd's anger was reserved for Barrick Gold CEO Peter Munk, who recently gave the U of T a multi-million-dollar donation.

Bush acts as a special advisor to Barrick Gold's international advisory committee, and protestors say it is for this reason that U of T gave the ex-president the honorary degree.

In the ornate hall where the ceremony took place, the tone was congratulatory and affectionate, but even inside, the noise of the protest was hard to ignore.

While U of T President Robert Prichard kicked off the ceremony with jocular banter, the gaiety of the moment was quickly challenged when more than 30 faculty members, dressed for the occasion in academic gowns, stood and walked out when Bush rose to receive his degree. The procession, led by world-renowned U of T scientist Ursula Franklin, exited the hall with measured steps and dignified grace.

But the laughs returned when Bush took the stage with a few witty chides at the protestors, reassuring the guests that he was not upset.

"It doesn't bother me one single bit. Barbara walked out when I read her this speech last night," joked Bush.

"As for the people outside," he laughed, "it reminds me of happy hour at the Baghdad Ramada Inn."

Bush added the protest was a kinder and gentler form of dissent than others he had witnessed, before launching into a description of his role in bringing down communism and protecting freedom of speech and the right to protest for one and all.

He spoke about his role in ending the Cold War, telling stories about the huge phone bill he racked up talking to world leaders and his joy at seeing young people dancing on the Berlin wall. He also had high praise for former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, before ending off with a brief mention of his upcoming book.

But outside, poeple did not find Bush quite so charming.

"I'm here to protest against this dishonorable degree," philosophy professor James Robert Brown said, adding that he would have cancelled his classes if any had been scheduled during the protest. "This guy is a murderer. Had I been invited into the ceremony, I would have walked out. I applaud those who will walk out today."

"I'm disgusted with U of T and its decision to honour George Bush with this degree. It's such an obvious conflict of interest, given his connections with Barrick Gold and Peter Munk," Ph.D. student Ian Clarken said. "It's no accident that Bush is receiving this degree. It plays right into what we see here, a relentless corporate agenda."

Jacob Glick, a student representative on the Governing Council, the body that ultimately decided to grant the degree to Bush, tore up his invitation on the steps of Hart House and started to eat it just before the ceremony began.

"I was chewing on it, but then I spat it out because it tasted like crap. It's ironic that it tastes like crap. Maybe that's how they made them. They're certainly tainted," he said.

Earlier the previous the week, over 200 students, faculty, alumni and community members descended on the council chambers of the Governing Council to protest the decision.

"Honorary degrees are meant to honour those who are exemplary," student activist Chris Ramsaroop said, addressing the crowd. "We do not want any association with an individual who has so much blood on his hands."

When director of the CIA, Bush sponsored several coups of democratically elected governments, including the one that installed General Suharto as the president of Indonesia. Suharto has since been responsible for the genocide of more than 250,000 civilians.

Bush was also condemned by an independant, international war-crimes tribunal set up immediately after the Gulf War. The tribunal - which contained members from Japan, Turkey, Malaysia and India - found Bush and then-Vice-President Dan Quayle guilty of 19 crimes against peace, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of the United States.

"How many people do I have to kill to get a Ph.D.?" implored one student, while waving a placard with the blunt message, "Will Pol Pot be next?"

To the east of Hart House, speakers from a variety of student and community groups addressed the protestors, while nearby, several students continued to burn American flags.

"Everything the American flag stands for has been completely violated by George Bush," second-year philosophy student Matt Butler said as he tried to get his lighter working to resume sending the Stars and Stripes up in flames.

There have been a number of complaints by students about the treatment they received at the hands of police at the protest. Of particular concern are actions police took when guests and dignitaries were leaving Hart House. Eight horses moved in on the west side of Hart House and about 250 students were knocked to the ground.

A student from York University was detained by Metro Toronto police for an hour and a half after the protest for "possibly assaulting a police officer," according to one of the officers, but she was later released and no charges were laid. Another student was arrested at a store that the former president visited later in the day, but he too was released with no charges laid.

Protestors managed to block the executive limos trying to whisk dignitaries away for over 25 minutes, while others made their way to U of T President Prichard's residence where Bush dined that evening.

With files from Sarah Schmidt and Vito M. Labate

Who's the sexiest of them all?
Canadians have lots of sex but don't do it well says survey
By Dorsa Jabbari

TORONTO (CUP) - Not only are Canadians having more sex but they are doing it longer, according to a recent, international sex survey.

Conducted by the condom company Durex Sheik, the survey covered a variety of sex-related categories including partner satisfaction, time spent on sexual intercourse and frequency of sex.

In raw numbers, the survey found that the average number of times Canadians have sex per year is up to 112 - an increase from 102 last year.

But to some university students, this number is anything but average.

"It's something to look forward to. But it's outrageous, there's no way that the number is right," second-year University of Toronto student Sharifa Gonez, said. "If it is, then that's a lot of sex."

She adds that she doesn't know very many people who are having that much sex, and attributes this mostly to students' time limitations.

While not among the most sexually active nationalities, Canadians definitely make it count when they do have sex. In the sexual stamina category, Canada finished a close second behind the U.S. in average time spent on sexual intercourse. With no other competitors close in sight, Canadians spend a leisurely 24.4 minutes, compared to the Americans' 25.3 minutes.

"That's really funny. So we are actually doing good over here," Gonez said, while trying to control her laughter.

But Aki Constantinou, another U of T student, says 24.4 minutes is not nearly long enough to fully enjoy sex.

"That is sad; the time should be longer. I've spent a longer time than that having sex in a car," he said.

Although Canadians are having more sex and doing well in the stamina category, they aren't anywhere near the top of the heap in the category of best lovers.

The French won out as the best lovers in the world, with Canadians in the seventh-overall spot - behind Italians, Americans, South Africans, Brits and Australians. Hong Kong came in last.

And though Canadians may consider themselves a modest bunch, they actually think they're sexier than they really are - 74 per cent of Canadian respondents ranked their country as one of the top-three sexiest nations.

This category is hotly contested among students.

"I think that Canadians are very sexy because we are so culturally diverse," Humberto Carolo, one of the co-ordinators of U of T's student- run sex education centre, said.

But Constantinou disagrees, holding up Canada's largest city as a centre of un-sexiness.

"I think in Toronto, there's too much attitude. Everyone thinks that they have it in them to become supermodels. I think a lot of people need a reality check," he said.

The issue of safer sex and condom use was one of the main focuses of the survey. But even though Canadians are concerned about transmission of the HIV virus, they still place greater importance on partner satisfaction.

"The survey results indicate a decreasing concern for HIV, STDs and unplanned pregnancies, which, coupled with an increasing preoccupation with sexual pleasure, makes for a potentially lethal mix," Sonya Agnew, director of marketing for Julius Schmid of Canada Ltd., the distributors of Durex condoms in Canada, said.

Carolo says he is concerned by many people's current attitudes towards AIDS.

"People are always convinced that they are invincible. People never associate the AIDS virus with themselves," he said. "And even though a lot of people are aware of AIDS, they don't necessarily have the skills to negotiate safe sex."

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