Oh bother. Much like Winnie the Pooh is for the Hundred Acre Woods, Alastair MacKinnon is the outward face of the Students' Union. As vice-president external, MacKinnon lobbies governments at all three levels to help improve student life.
Because the effects and success of lobbying is long term, it's difficult to measure whether or not MacKinnon has been successful so far this year, but he is a hard worker. He lobbied hard to get a polling station on campus for the federal election, but was ultimately given only a half victory when there was a station in residence only for rez kids. This is not his fault and the fact that Elections Canada did anything at all is great.
Pooh got stuck in a tree disguised as a rain cloud while trying to steal honey from bees. Though MacKinnon wasn't trying to jack any honey, he himself was stuck fall semester in a tree full of federal election themed events, diverting his focus from a secondary suites campaign he had hoped to start. But the election events were successful and this temporary distraction bore plenty of fruit. Conservative member of Parliament Rob Anders attended a campus forum after a long time as a notorious no-show to public gatherings and the Black Lounge was packed with students for a perogy and coloured beer event for election night.
Whether or not the SU was successful in encouraging more students to vote might never be determined, but MacKinnon and his commission at least raised awareness and increased access.
MacKinnon is chair of the nascent Calgary Student Caucus, a group of student leaders from the Calgary-based post-secondary institutions, and he is working hard to build it up so that students have a unified voice grabbing the attention of municipal politicians. In the long run, this could be incredibly beneficial for U of C students if CSC can affect change in policy regarding secondary suites, rez property taxes and the U-Pass.
The only criticism leveled at MacKinnon from his commission is he, like many of the executives, doesn't involve them enough in some of his projects. But it seems that the group has been successful and they are working together under MacKinnon's leadership, whether or not he has involved them enough or not.
MacKinnon speaks like an individual who has done plenty of lobbying. Whether or not there are any immediate successes, students should be happy they have someone like MacKinnon vouching for them and continuing to focus politicians on student issues.