In preparation for their return to the legislature this week, MLAs from Alberta and Saskatchewan have been meeting with students in their electoral districts. The students prepared for these visits by learning about the responsibilities of the provincial government and their MLA, as well as some current events that were important to them. During their time with the MLA, students asked questions about a wide variety of issues, from pipelines to social policies to voting.
MLAs Jacquie Fenske and Linda Johnson tweet about the questions they received on MLA Day.
14 Saskatchewan MLAs and 18 Alberta MLAs have visited students for this inaugural MLA Day program, and the feedback from all involved has been positive. Teachers report that their students are engaged and very informed. MLAs have told us they have been surprisingly challenged by the questions from students. And thanks to social media, even students have had the chance to express their opinions on MLA Day;
“@DrewBarnesMLA thanks for the talk… Appreciate you talking to our class and answering our questions…nice to meet you!” – Tweet from a student at Senator Gershaw, Bow Island, AB
The goal is that these MLA Day visits have not only highlighted issues of importance for MLAs to bring back to the Legislature this term, but also have begun a year long relationship between the students and their elected representatives. Some MLAs have already scheduled follow up visits with their partner school.
To follow more MLA Day commentary from those taking part, check out these links:
Storify – MLA Day Alberta
Storify – MLA Day Saskatchewan
Pinterest – MLA Day photos
MLA Day brings together high school students and their provincial elected representatives (Members of the Legislative Assembly, or MLAs for short) to discuss political issues and current affairs.
MLA Day provides students an opportunity to voice their opinions and begin a relationship with their elected representative. MLAs will have the chance to shed negative stereotypes associated with politicians.
“We hope that by connecting students with their elected representatives, we can create stronger bonds between the province’s youth and democratic institutions and values,” says field commander Katie Reidel.
Through online resources, classroom discussion and interaction with their MLA, students will increase their knowledge of their provincial legislative assembly, develop trust in their local representative, and be encouraged to discuss future issues facing the province with family, friends and government officials. Ideally, the issues discussed on MLA Day will remain with each MLA as they return to their respective legislatures the following week.
In total, 21 Alberta MLAs and 14 Saskatchewan MLAs will visit classrooms in their electoral districts and divisions. Most visits are occurring this week, October 15th to 19th. According to Reidel, “the feedback we have received so far from teachers and MLAs has been very positive. So far it has been found to be a worthwhile program with beneficial results, both for the students and the elected representative.”
“It was a SMASHING SUCCESS. Donna [Donna Kennedy-Glans, MLA for Calgary-Varsity] talked for the first 15 minutes and then was ‘inundated with gooooood questions’ for the next 45. I think she appreciated it as much as we did. Hats off to YOU for arranging it in the first place.”
Past Student Vote Team Leaders in the two provinces were invited to register for the program. Student Vote, another CIVIX program, ran its most recent parallel elections in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Alberta, 85,186 students elected a PC majority government led by Premier Alison Redford in April 2012. In November 2011, 20,001 Saskatchewan students elected a Saskatchewan Party government under Premier Brad Wall.
We would like to thank all the MLAs and schools from across Alberta and Saskatchewan who took part for their participation and patience throughout this pilot program.
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