[University of Waterloo]


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Friday, January 6, 2006

  • Liberal funding plan launched at UW
  • More election talk, and more talk
  • Warm summer and dry December
Chris Redmond

The last day of Christmas

[Writers at tables, cameramen on high]

Media audience in the Columbia Icefield gym during Martin's visit yesterday. Photos by Graphics Photo/Imaging.

Liberal funding plan launched at UW

Prime minister Paul Martin brought the Liberal Party campaign to Waterloo yesterday, 18 days before the federal election, and made UW the stage for announcing a plan for subsidizing universities and students by the thousands. A Liberal news release said the proposals would "support Canadian families in surmounting barriers in education, training and finding a good job".

"Education and skills training unlock potential," said Martin, speaking to media and guests in a gym at the Columbia Icefield, where the campaign appearance was organized on a day's advance notice. His remarks included a comment on making an education announcement in Kitchener-Waterloo, a community that "symbolizes education across Canada". He had arrived in K-W at 3 a.m. after a long flight from Vancouver.

Said the prime minister: "Education is the greatest investment we can make in ourselves. As a nation, it is the greatest investment we can make in our collective future. . . . Thanks to our responsible economic management, which has led to eight balanced budgets in a row, we have the ability to do more to help young people enjoy the benefits that a post-secondary education brings."

[Martin gestures]

Martin speaks at UW yesterday. Beside him is Karen Redman, the Liberal candidate in Kitchener Centre.

A new Liberal government, he said, would "increase access to post-secondary education through a new 50/50 Plan under which the government will pay for half of an undergraduate student's first year tuition, and half of a student's graduating year tuition, to a maximum of $3,000 in each of the years. . . . Beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, every student in Canada who begins his or her first degree or diploma program will be eligible for our 50/50 plan."

Some of Martin's points build on spending commitments made in the federal mini-budget in November. He repeated November's promise to expand the Canada Access

Yesterday's announcement

Student group 'pleased'
CTV | Globe and Mail | Free Press

Other parties' education platforms

Conservative Party
New Democratic Party
Green Party
Bloc Québécois
Grants, which are currently only available to first-year students from low-income families. "Beginning later this year, a Liberal government will extend these grants to cover up to four years of undergraduate study, bringing benefits to more than 50,000 additional students each year."

The Liberals also propose to review Canada's system of student financial assistance, "together with the provinces, territories and other partners", with the aim of providing lower interest rate costs for students.

With human resources minister Belinda Stronach, who's running for re-election in the Newmarket-Aurora riding just north of Toronto, standing nearby, Martin also announced plans for federal funding to support training and apprenticeship programs: "Post-secondary education, advanced skills training and attaining decent employment are the key to the prosperity of Canadian families and Canadian workers, now and for the foreseeable future," he said.

And he announced a proposal for new scholarships, named for a Liberal prime minister of the 1960s, Lester Pearson, to be awarded to 25 Canadian students to study abroad, "in such fields as multilateralism, international development and human rights -- areas in which Lester Pearson held such an interest, made such a mark and left such a legacy", and 50 international students to study in Canada each year.

Three buses brought Liberal aides and media crews to the campus visit, and Martin was also accompanied by his party's local candidates, as well as a group of young people representing those who would benefit from his tuition fee plan in the years ahead. During the hour-long UW visit he also met privately with UW president David Johnston.

More election talk, and more talk

The Federation of Students has created a special website to provide information about the federal election, and particularly about how students can get onto the voters' list, get informed, and cast their ballots. It announces that representatives of Elections Canada, the authority that runs the election, will be in the Student Life Centre today, Monday and Tuesday to provide information and help with registration. It also hints, without giving details, that an all-candidates' meeting will be held on campus shortly. Off campus, there's an all-candidates' meeting for Kitchener-Waterloo riding, which includes the city of Waterloo, on Sunday from 3:30 to 7:00 at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Centre. It's sponsored by a coalition of ethnic and immigration organizations.

The National Post reports this morning that Google Inc. "has quietly established a growing foothold in Waterloo" by buying software firm Reqwireless Inc. The Post adds that Google "is also actively looking to hire software engineers and developers in the city that has become a hotbed for software development and wireless technology". The story has several references to UW. The first public mention of Google's interest in creating a Waterloo beachhead, as far as I know, came on Tuesday in the StudentLifeCentre.com blog, when the blog's alert author, a final-year engineering student, noted and reported a Google job ad mentioning an opening here.

[Magazine cover] The new issue of Alternatives magazine, published at UW (right), looks at Canada's commitment to lowering greenhouse gases, in the wake of the recent United Nations climate conference in Montréal talking about compliance with the "Kyoto accord". The magazine's theme issue "adds to the toolbox of tactics to reduce emissions locally and abroad", the editors promise. "With 35 years of service to Canadians, Alternatives is the national environmental journal that links the works of activists, academics and professionals, covering both ecological and social justice issues."

The registrar's office says more than 3,100 students "have received bursaries since May from the tuition set-aside funds earmarked for financial aid". . . . A list of this month's short courses in computing skills, offered by information systems and technology, is available online. . . . Sign-up starts next week in the residences, and then January 16-20 in the Student Life Centre, for the Leave the Pack Behind stop-smoking (or don't-start-smoking) contest. . . .

Sports this weekend: Men's hockey vs. Western, 7:30 tonight at the Columbia Icefield, then tomorrow at Western. Swimming vs. Brock, tomorrow at 10 a.m., PAC pool. Volleyball tomorrow night: women vs. St. Francis Xavier at 6:00, men vs. Laurier at 8:00, PAC main gym. Basketball (both men and women) tonight at Ryerson, tomorrow at Toronto. Track and field, tomorrow at the Toronto Invitational.

Warm summer and dry December

That bright thing reflecting off the south side of Math and Computer this morning, and turning the wisps from the smokestack pink, is called the "Sun". It may not be familiar to some newcomers, as it hasn't been seen in Waterloo much lately.

However, the summer months are a different matter. "The top weather story was the hot, hot summer," says Frank Seglenieks, coordinator of the UW weather station, in summarizing the year 2005. But he's also got precise data about the windchill (which hit minus-30.5 one day last January) and the rain (26.4 mm, more than an inch, fell within an hour on August 19).

In fact, if you want to know anything about the weather, as recorded on UW's north campus near the Columbia Greenhouses, Seglenieks is your man. Highest average wind speed? 10.2 metres per second (that's, let's see, 36.7 kilometres per hour) on November 6. Average daily low for the year? 2.19 Celsius.

International students orientation sessions 5 to 8 p.m., followed by reception, Columbia Lake Village community centre (to be repeated January 20).

FASS auditions and sign-up for technical crew, 7 to 9 p.m., Humanities room 334. (Performances are February 2-4.)

Cold and hot water shutdown in Physics, Engineering II and Rod Coutts Hall, Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Campus recreation instructional programs registration Monday though Thursday, 8:30 to 4:30, Physical Activities Complex.

Waterloo Aeronautical Robotics Group recruitment meeting Monday 5:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Payroll sign-up for graduate students: Graduate Student Association information available Tuesday 1:00 to 3:30, human resources payroll registration 2:00 to 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

'Educational Games: A Dialogue in Two Parts', presentation by Denis Dyack, Silicon Knights, Wednesday 12 noon, Flex lab, Dana Porter Library, registration online.

When the year is dubbed "warmer than average", as 2005 was from June through late fall, it's a matter of degree, actually just half a degree. The average daily high, 12.51 Celsius, feels pretty much like the same figure for thirty years past, 11.86, to anybody but a weather expert.

Says Seglenieks: "During the summer the daily high temperature was warmer than average 68 out of 93 days. Another example of just how hot it was this summer was the number of days the temperature went above 30 degrees. There were a total of 17 of those days during the year (7 in June, 7 in July and 3 in August) while we would only expect 7 during an average year. It is also a big contrast to 2004 when it didn't happen once.

"It would have been difficult to predict the warm summer based on the temperatures during the beginning of the year. The winter months of 2005 were colder than average, particularly during two cold stretches: one during late January (the temperature of minus-32.3 C recorded on January 27 at 7:45 am was the coldest ever recorded at the station) and another from mid-February to mid-March.

"Overall, the spring was a bit warmer than average, but within that we saw lower than average temperatures in May. Then came the six month run of warmer than average temperatures."

Total precipitation for the year was 812.4 mm, compared to the long-term average of 904.0 mm. "This," says Seglenieks, "is despite the fact that the year produced the highest precipitation ever recorded during a single month (127.9 mm in November) and the highest precipitation ever recorded during a single day (59.2 mm on July 16). The reason for the below average precipitation for the year was principally because of a very dry spell we experienced during the spring."

There's more such data on the weather station web site, along with a detailed report on December -- the first colder-than-average month since May, Seglenieks notes. "However, there was only one really cold spell (on the 11th and 12th) -- the rest of the time it wasn't that far below average and it got warm at the end of the month.

"The daily high temperatures were almost 2.5 degrees less than average while the daily low temperatures were very close to average. This shows that the difference between the daytime and nighttime temperatures (the diurnal variation) wasn't very large; this is what we would expect at this time of the year as compared to the summer. The reason is that during the summer the ground absorbs more of the incoming radiation from the sun and thus heats up during the day. When there is snow cover much of the incoming radiation is reflected back to atmosphere and the ground surface doesn't heat up as much.

"There was only 43.0 mm of precipitation measured in December. This is about 58% of the average amount we would expect. However, as it was colder during the first part of the month, a lot of precipitation fell in the form of snow and stayed around till the new year. I think this made the less then average precipitation deceiving as people were able to look at (and had to shovel) almost all of the precipitation that did fall."


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