So you wanna be Prime Minister?

By Natalie Sit

Three University of Calgary students are semi-finalists in the As Prime Minister contest.

Erich Mende, Trevor van Gorp and Erin Weir will fly to Toronto Aug. 6, to present their ideas and could win up to $70,000 and a one-year internship with Magna International if they are the national finalist overall.

They answered the question "If you were the Prime Minister of Can- ada, what political vision would you offer to improve our living standards and ensure a secure and prosperous global community?" All three offered diverse and complex ideas to improve Canada.

Mende has a BA in Sociology and is currently pursuing a degree in Political Science. Mende’s ideas include a focus on growing citizenship in schools, health credits for those who practice healthy living and a new peacekeeper force made not of soldiers but specifically trained forces and diplomats.

"I truly have a passionate love of all that is Canada and I want to try and develop the commitment and vision to serve her interests above all else," said Mende. "Someone was asking ‘What can we do to make Canada safer and more prosperous?’ and I had a lot to say on the issue, so I entered."

van Gorp was inspired by a fellow student who was a semi-finalist in last year’s contest. van Gorp wants to change how people view the economy, an idea based on his work on a Master’s in Industrial Design in the Environmental Design faculty.

"Currently, the economy is based on neo-classical theory where we look at value as a linear-extraction system," said van Gorp. "Waste is assigned to some place, outside the model. A neo-classical model does not account for source or destination of waste product."

This is Weir’s second time as a semi-finalist. His positive experiences last year prompted him to enter again. Weir’s proposal centers on the Canadian government actively improving living standards and aiding poorer nations, despite Canada’s small economy.

"By making a large effort relative to its limited national resources, Canada would set a positive example for other countries to follow," wrote Weir in his proposal. "By using this moral authority to influence other states, the effect of Canadian foreign policy could far exceed Canada’s own contributions."

The national winner will be announced in Ottawa this November.

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