Advocacy and Politics

Dig in. We welcome your content suggestions, especially Canadian content that's not selling anything (except a better deal for students).

Artistic Expression


Vote NO for Corporations by Sisko Brill

This offering is a graphic actually. But it's visual, so since Brill is in part protesting student debt, let's include it…

Note: is currently down, so we will link this back as soon as possible.

Watch Vote NO for Corporations by Sisko Brill


Student Day of Action – white horse

Watch Jonothan McKay and Morgan Sea were said to be using performance art to illustrate student poverty during "Day of Action - February 7th, 2007" at the Alberta College of Art and Design. In this clip, McKay's character beats up a hapless Sea (the white horse).

Watch Student Day of Action – white horse


Student Loan Rate from bitchslappedtv

Satirical bit hosted by Jessah Diaz (Fountain Head Networks TV).

Watch Student Loan Rate

American Student Debt Ads

Here are some Youtube ads for US non-profit organizations campaigning against student debt in their country…plus one private loan company ad worth watching.

"Debt Hits Hard" from Campus

This one says it all and says it well:

Watch "Debt Hits Hard"

"Student Debt: Denying the American Dream" from the US Students Association

With different stats, this next one could be "Denying the Canadian Dream." It describes the same trends we've seen in Canada: a long-term shift from grants to loans and growing student debt as the federal government cuts education funding.

Watch "Student Debt: Denying the American Dream"

"The Beast That Swallows It's Young" from

Godzilla fans will like this anger ad; nice aural tag in the credits. While it's about an American system very different from our own, this and other US protest/reform ads serve as cautionary tales for Canadians.

Here's why. Over the past 15 years, Canada has developed its own privatized student loan industry, not just with private bank loans but with government student loans being handled on contracts by student loan 'management' companies and collection agencies, many of them US-based. Canada and the US also have high student loan interest rates and student loan bankruptcy restrictions.

Hey, this intro is nearly longer than the ad. Ok, here's the beast:

Watch "The Beast That Swallows It's Young"

This video – hard-hitting and sometimes darkly funny – is an ad from GC Services.

And if anyone would know US student loan horror stories, GC Services would. It says it is the largest privately-owned outsourcing provider of call centre management and collection agency services in North America.

Watch ad from GC Services

American Debt Documentary Trailers

"Stop the College Debt Squeeze!" by Danny Schechter

In this trailer for the US documentary "In Debt We Trust," Schechter mentions the debt faced by students when they graduate. Schecter has won Emmys for his work. He's with MediaChannel and Globalvision.

This clip is totally about the US, but is useful in showing a student loan system even more privatized than Canada's has become during the past 15 years. Schechter also introduces a few of the organizations fighting student and consumer debt in the US.

Watch "Stop the College Debt Squeeze!"

Getting Schooled: Student Loan Tricksters from "studentloantrickster"

This trailer shows Canadians where we're headed if we keep following US trends of more loans, less aid and privatization of the student loan industry. This clip lists the scandals plaguing the US student loan industry (which seems to be a 'sub-prime mortgage' story beyond most mass media radar).

The director uses a pseudonym on Youtube, but promises a future documentary to "expose the corrupt world of student educational loans and how these lenders, and our own government, are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives every year."

Watch Getting Schooled: Student Loan Tricksters

Canadian Politics: Education Budget Lobbying

Note: While Debt 101 located no CASA content for this section, CASA's items in the News section illustrate its viewpoints on tuition costs, access and student debt.

May 7, 2008

CFS Standing Committee on Finance Presentation (Bill C-50)

Amanda Aziz, National Chair, Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), calls for a shift of federal grants funding from the former Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation to the new Canada Student Grants Program. She also calls for a greater use of grants instead of loans and improved access for aboriginal groups not currently helped. She's addressing the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, regarding the 2008 Budget Implementation Act, Bill C-50.

Watch CFS Standing Committee on Finance Presentation (Bill C-50)

January 21, 2008

CFS-Ontario's Presentation at Ontario's 2008 pre-budget consultation

Jen Hassum, CFS-Ontario Chairperson, explains why Ontario's post-secondary system needs financial and structural changes. She's speaking to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs during Ontario's 2008 pre-budget consultations.

It's a fairly long clip but Ontario students will find useful info and stats in this presentation.

Watch CFS-Ontario's Presentation at Ontario's 2008 pre-budget consultation

Canadian Politics: Testimony on Student Loan Bankruptcy Rules

Before the student loan bankruptcy rules got softened in the summer of 2008, Canada's Senate heard testimony about the problems people had with student loans being ineligible for bankruptcy for at least 10 years.

The '10-year' rule came in 1998, apparently to satisfy banks holding risk-shared student loans. In 2008, the Senate committee (shown in the clips below) recommended eligibility in 5 years. In the end, the government allowed eligibility in 7 years, with 5 years allowed only if applicants demonstrate extreme hardship.

February 13, 2008

Testimony to the Senate on Student Loan Bankruptcy Laws
Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)

Ian Boyko, the CFS Campaigns and Government Relations co-ordinator, speaks before the Senate of Canada's Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce as they consider arguments on the possible reduction of the 10-year rule prohibiting the discharge of student loans through bankruptcy.

Boyko explains why the 10-year rule imposes undue hardship, citing dozens of calls to the CFS each month from former students overwhelmed by education debts.

Watch Testimony to the Senate on Student Loan Bankruptcy Laws

February 7, 2008

Senate Testimony on Student Loan Bankruptcy Laws
Doug Hoyes and Ted Michalos

Debt 101 didn't find testimony from other organizations, but the following series was recorded by an Ontario firm of bankruptcy trustees.

In their testimony to the Senate committee cited above, Doug Hoyes and Ted Michalos suggest student loans be discharged through bankruptcy within 2 years following school. They take Senators' questions and explain why prolonged bankruptcy restrictions on student loans are illogical and discriminatory.

Part 1: No longer available.

Part 2: Watch

Part 3: Watch

Part 4: Watch

YouTube's US bankruptcy videos don't relate to Canadian student loans. If you have Canadian loans, Cancon such as the Canadian Senate testimony above is what you need to go by.

Political Action (also see News)


Strength in Numbers: How Students Won a Tuition Fee Freeze
(from Canadian Federation of Students)

This 3-parter is talking head but has useful info, including Part 1 explanation of why tuition costs soared in the 1990s and discussion throughout on how political pressure was used to win the freeze.

Some history:

Prior to the 2003 general election in Ontario, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) secured a commitment from the Liberals, led by Dalton McGuinty, that if the party won it would freeze tuition fees for "at least two years."

In CFS words, the Liberals later "tried to wiggle out of the tuition fee freeze promise and delayed announcing the freeze until April 2004 to allow ideologically opposed university presidents every possible opportunity to attack it." However, the CFS won their freeze for the two years 2004-2006, plus over $150 million in annual public funding for colleges and universities.

Watch Part 1

Watch Part 2

Watch Part 3