Three students from U of T are among the 10 finalists in Magna International’s As Prime Minister Awards. Karl Baldauf, Maria Banda and Andrew Harder’s essays were chosen from 500 entries nationwide. Contestants entered essays about what they would do to make Canada a better place if they were prime minister. Each finalist has won $10,000 and a paid four-month internship at Magna International, Canada’s largest supplier of automotive systems and components. The national winner will be chosen in November in Ottawa and will receive an additional $10,000 and a one-year internship at Magna International. The trio were among the finalists and semi-finalists who gave their prime ministerial advice to a panel of judges in Toronto. Finalists were also chosen for their volunteer and community work.

Karl Baldauf is a political science student who is the founding president of the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association and a volunteer with the Fashion Cares fundraiser in Toronto. Baldauf is currently at the University of Amsterdam doing his third year in exchange. He admits to enjoying his place on the soapbox but commented that “the best part of the competition has been the opportunity to meet young Canadians from all over the country that have different and passionate ideas on how to strengthen the social fabric.” Baldauf says his essay deals with ” internal institutions like health care, our electoral system, federalism, and proposed ways in which we can restructure them to motivate our citizenry to be active participants in their reform.” He also looks at “corporate social responsibility and the notion that as we move toward a more globally integrated world, we must learn to work with the private sector more to strengthen our communities.” Baldauf is also concerned about “our failing military, and our weakening presence in the global community.” Karl feels that “The world needs Canada to be an international leader. In order to do this we must make it unequivocally clear that we are committed to international peace and human security.” Baldauf will be doing his internship with Magna International after his fourth year. As for whether he would really want to be prime minister, Baldauf considers himself too young at 21 to entertain the idea but says “Ask me in 35 years.”

Maria Banda is pursuing an undergraduate degree in international relations with a minor in economics and history. She is a Trinity College investigative officer, Stewart at Hart House, co-president of the International Relations Society and editor-in-chief of Attache. Banda is a keen debater and has participated in numerous competitions. Because the winner has not yet been chosen, Banda is reserving her comments until after the final judging in November.

Anderew Harder is working on a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in political science and history. He has participated in many provincial and national public policy conferences, as public policy is his main area of interest. Harder is now organizing “Digital Divide” at the Munk Centre for International Studies. He could not be reached for comment.