LeBlanc has used alignment with Donald Trump with the campaign’s slogan ‘Make Trent Great Again’ and association with Doug Ford using a picture with the Toronto politician to gain attention, albeit attention with rather controversial politicians.
He said he doesn’t necessarily support Trump’s campaign or platform, though.
“It was originally used by Ronald Regan in the 1980s, and it is usually used by at least one Republican primary candidate” said LeBlanc.
“‘Let’s Make Trent Great Again’ took 72 hours for this election to change from a student election to a referendum on LeBlanc.” he explained.
“Simply there wasn’t a lot of time to campaign, and ‘Make Trent Great Again’ was successful in getting my name out there. The slogan was way to give me a chance at winning TCSA presidency. The fact is without that slogan, [Alaine Spiwak] kicks my ass in a landslide because nobody knows who I am.”
Despite his claim that the slogan was solely used to attract attention, posts on his social media hint that he is, at the very least, sympathetic to Trump’s politics.
Leblanc said his campaign is speaking for the silent majority of Trent students.
“I get messages from students all the time saying ‘I don’t necessarily want to join Trent Conservatives, but I like what you are doing, keep going on and those are private conversations, but they are reassuring they are places his campaign on four planks.
“To induct referendums on refundable levy groups every three years, to be harsh on sexual assault on campus, to make student government more accessible to all members of the community and to use 10 per cent of the TCSA president’s salary to create a bursary for five students in need.”
The rationale behind the referendum on levies is that once levies are established, the process to remove them would require a group of students who are passionate about discontinuing the levy.
The same process as establishing the levy, getting a petition of 600 signatures and winning a referendum would have to occur.
LeBlanc thinks the TSCA needs to make it easier for students to dissolve refundable levies when they no longer meet the interests of the student body.
“I’m only pursuing this for levies that refundable, you can go on the website and check which ones are refundable and which are non-refundable, I think it’s important we protect the non-refundable levies. The Trent Arthur, Trent Radio and TISA, to name a few non-refundable levies, are essential to the university and should be protected,” he explained.
The criticism on this stance is that groups have worked hard to establish these refundable levies, so it is unfair to hold them to majoritarian politics that will not necessarily protect the special interest groups.
Some of these groups may also be seen as essential to the university, despite their status as refundable, such as TUNA and the Seasoned Spoon.
When LeBlanc talks about anti-bullying and inclusivity in student government he means for all groups that may feel uncomfortable participating, but he does have one group in mind that he feels has been discriminated against: the Jewish and Israeli communities.
In particular he is worried about the BDS movement and how it may make Jewish students feel.
“You look at the leader of the BDS movement and, you can check this, he believes in a one-state system under the state of Palestine,” LeBlanc shared.
“But when there are aspects of a movement that thinks Israel should be blown off the map. How do you think Jewish students feel?”
Leblanc’s final proposal is to create a “TCSA compassion bursary” for students in poverty.
He would like to use 10 per cent of his salary as TCSA president to create five bursaries of $500 dollars to go to high achieving students in need.
In the debate he challenged other candidates of all TCSA executive positions to offer to do the same. None of them acknowledged the idea except for Spiwak, the incumbent TCSA president running against LeBlanc, who felt a budget change such as the one LeBlanc proposed would be against TCSA bylaws.
The debate held at Sadleir house on March 10, highlighted some of the key differences between LeBlanc and Spiwak regarding policy on international students.
When pressed about his opinion on international students LeBlanc was candid in saying he would not advocate for tuition caps the same way he would for domestic students.
“The fact is when you break it down Canadians student pay the same as international students. Domestic students are just subsidized by the government. If we reduced tuition for international students there would be a budget shortfall.”
Spiwak was clear that she advocates for international students every time she talked about tuition.
LeBlanc’s campaign does not come without some controversy. There were leaked Facebook conversations with Brandon Freer, the former TCSA president, who was forced to resign due to the leaked conversations with LeBlanc.
In the leaked conversation, which you can find published on the Arthur website, Freer encourages LeBlanc to run for the TCSA position.
This is seen to be connected to the WikiLeaks leak in which the Conservative party of Canada is aiming at “taking over” student governments across Canada and undermine OPIRG groups on campuses.
This is a story that date backs to 2002. LeBlanc feels the conversation and the takeover are blown out of proportion.
“Let me be clear, I don’t think Brandon should have resigned, and I wrote that at the time. There is nothing in that conversation that is wrong. Go look for yourself,” he explained.
He also defended the WikiLeaks story, “as far as the WikiLeaks document, that story is 14 years old, we don’t talk about it anymore at Conservative conventions.”
LeBlanc believes that to win against an incumbent president he needed to run a provocative campaign.
“Some people will say that it’s dumb,” Leblanc breathed, “but at least it has given me a fighting chance.”