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U of C rally draws hundreds of workers, students

Hundreds gathered on the steps of MacEwan Student Centre at the University of Calgary at a rally against the recent Alberta budget tabled by the United Conservative Party.

The pro-union crowd of perhaps 500 waved flags and donned placards scrawled with both anti-government sentiment and messages supporting both primary and post-secondary education, and in support of public workers.

Earlier this week, the University of Calgary announced that 250 people would lose their jobs. Management, faculty and support staff will all have layoffs, the U of C said.

These decisions were made after October’s provincial budget saw Campus Alberta grants to the U of C cut by nearly $33 million. Roughly $22 million in much-needed infrastructure maintenance cash was also cut.

Along with that, however, the province lifted the tuition cap imposed by the previous Alberta NDP government.

Bobby-Joe Borodey, vice president for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) said she’s never seen anything like these recent cuts.

“Now I’ve worked in post secondary my entire professional career and it sickens me to see what this government is doing to the staff here,” she told the crowd.

“As well as the students, the students here that are the future of this province.”

Frequent chants broke out among the predominantly union audience as speakers whipped up the crowds. Cries of “shame, shame” followed speakers as they described recent cuts by the Kenney government.

‘Bad move, Jason. Bad move.’

Guy Smith, AUPE president, address the crowd at the University of Calgary Thursday. DARREN KRAUSE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

AUPE president Guy Smith was the final speaker of the afternoon event and he said the UCP government has taken away student supports.

“When post secondary is under attack, you’re rights are under attack, not just as workers who provide services here, but as students who need that level of education and need that level of support that our members give you in that education,” Smith said.

Smith said he believes the UCP has picked the wrong fight.

“Take on the whole damn union movement?” Smith asked the crowd.

“Bad move, Jason. Bad move.”