Olivia on the Hill: Blanchette-Lamothe and Caron

January 31st, 2014 by Olivia Dorey

CIVIX team member Olivia Dorey is meeting with Members of Parliament to learn about the presence of politicians in schools and how we can build and improve our programs. 

Olivia met with NDP MPs Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe and Guy Caron together earlier this week.

LYSANE BLANCHETTE-LAMOTHE & GUY CARON

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe is the NDP MP for Pierrefonds – Dollard, and critic for Citizenship and Immigration. Having been a teacher, and pursuing her Master’s degree in education before entering politics, she has first-hand experience to put behind her recommendations. She has also worked in Kuujjuak, an Aboriginal community in Northern Québec, before being elected by her constituents in 2011.

Guy Caron is the NDP MP for Rimouski-Neigette – Témiscouata – Les Basques, and deputy critic for finance and international trade. He was involved in student politics, serving as the president of the Student Federation at the University of Ottawa, and went on to become the president of the Canadian Federation of Students. Since then, he has held many positions, but has settled in Gatineau with his family. 

Blanchette-Lamothe and Caron

Mr. Caron estimates that he has 50 schools in his riding, while Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe estimates closer to 15, as many of the youth who live in her constituency belong to a school board outside her riding. They both estimate that they visit schools five times per year, though Mr. Caron tends to visit schools with which he has long lasting relationships.

Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe sends out pamphlets indicating her interest in visiting schools, but having been a teacher understands that it is complicated to organize them. Both MPs agreed that their role as federal representatives has a deterrent effect in Quebec, where provincial representatives are more often represented. Mr. Caron also cites the lack of a civic education course as an impediment, as it would create the perfect environment for visits from representatives. 

Want to learn more about Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe and Guy Caron? You can visit Ms. Blanchette-Lamothe’s website and Member of Parliament Profile and Mr. Caron’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings!

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Olivia on the Hill: Bélanger and Cannan

January 30th, 2014 by Olivia Dorey

CIVIX team member Olivia Dorey is meeting with Members of Parliament to learn about the presence of politicians in schools and how we can build and improve our programs. 

Over the past few weeks, Olivia met with MPs Mauril Bélanger and Ron Cannan.

MAURIL BÉLANGER

Mauril Bélanger served in the private sector and the municipal public sector prior to taking office. Bélanger has since served as the Liberal MP for Ottawa-Vanier in 1995, and next year will mark his tenth consecutive year in office. Commandeur de l’Ordre de la Pléiade, Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Liberal Advocate for Co-operatives, and friend of the Royal Canadian Legion, he is a champion of many causes, particularly national unity and linguistic duality. He very willingly visits schools, a role he considers part of his duty as MP. 

Bélanger

While la Cité Collégiale and the University of Ottawa are both in his riding, Mr Bélanger estimates that he also has over 40 CÉGEPs, elementary and secondary schools to tend to! He visits schools roughly once per month, often scheduled by teachers he has met. The majority of his school visits are dedicated to the question and answer portion, and he typically spends no more than five minutes on the introductory speech. He often offers Canadian flags to elementary students.

You can also visit Mauril Bélanger’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

RON CANNAN

Ron Cannan is the Conservative MP for Kelowna – Lake Country. He has served all three levels of government in his area, and worked in marketing for many years in the private sector. He has served on various school boards, and is the co-founder of the Okanagan Volunteer Festival. We would like to extend the warmest congratulations to him for the impending arrival of his third grandchild! 

Cannan

Mr. Cannan estimates that he makes half a dozen visits to schools in the run of a year, accepting any invitations that he receives. While he very much enjoys visiting classes of up to 30 students, as this facilitates meaningful conversation, he has also been present at citizenship ceremonies hosted by schools which were very powerful. Whatever form his interaction with students takes, he hopes to impart on them the respect due to their privilege and duty to vote. Mr. Cannan feels very strongly about the influence that the media has on civic education and to combat the misrepresentation or misinterpretation of politics he advises students to read about issues in many different publications. 

You can also visit Ron Cannan’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings!

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Students Discuss the Student Budget Consultation Results

January 23rd, 2014 by Olivia Dorey

On January 21st, Katie and I had the pleasure of accompanying five Ottawa-area grade 10 students and their teachers to share and discuss the Student Budget Consultation survey results with Andrew Saxton, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Laurier Boucher and Emily Thibeault represented students from Sacred Heart High School in Stittsville, and were accompanied by teacher Roland Cardinal. Ottawa’s Canterbury High School was represented by Ben Tipper-ShawCaitlyn Dewar, and Laurel Moyse, and were joined by teacher A.J. Blauer

Students discuss the SBC results with Andrew Saxton

Through the Student Budget Consultation, these students – and thousands of others from across Canada – learned about the federal budget and offered their insights on key issues through an online survey.

Our party gathered before our meeting at the Department of Finance to review the results and prepare for the discussion. The SBC survey focused on five key budget areas, and each student assumed responsibility for the presentation of one section.

Laurel led off the discussion with the economy and youth employment, followed by Ben on family issues. Emily addressed the opinions of youth about cyberbullying, and Caitlyn voiced student concerns related to energy and the environment. Laurel concluded the meeting by sharing student priorities on spending and debt.

Students present the SBC results to Andrew Saxton

The students did a great job representing the opinions of Canadian youth while still sharing their own opinions. They offered both praise and criticism, and Mr. Saxton was happy to answer any questions the students had. In particular, Laurel asked about the government’s environmental priorities and concerns over the accessibility of the language in the budget.

The students presented Mr. Saxton with a report on the results at the end of the meeting. The complete Student Budget Consultation survey results will be released publicly in the coming weeks.

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Olivia on the Hill: The Governor General’s Round-Table on Youth Engagement

January 16th, 2014 by Olivia Dorey

Yesterday I received the opportunity to observe a round-table discussion on youth engagement hosted by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. Seventy-five hand-picked youth representatives from the National Capital Region were treated to a day of stimulating conversation in the Tent Room at Rideau Hall. 

Through story-telling and song, the Governor General reiterated the need for Canadians to create “a smart and caring nation,” a call that has permeated his time as Governor General. According to Johnston, Canada should look to young people when it is in need of smart, new ideas, and it is the responsibility of each generation to “carry on the goodwill” of those that came before them. 

The Governor General’s Round-Tabl​e on Youth Engagement

We also heard from Michael Allen, the CEO of the Ottawa branch of the United Way, and Mathieu Fleury, the councillor representing Ottawa’s Rideau-Vanier ward. Allen described their Growing Up Great initiative, and invited input for how they to inspire and engage and youth and help them realize their ideas. Fleury invited attendees to think about how they were going to leverage the event going forward. 

I had the chance to chat with Patrick Twagirayezu, the president of the Capital Youth Initiative. He believes that civic education and youth engagement go hand-in-hand, and that the existence of school boards, senates, and student trustees are all evidence of young people willing to get involved. Patrick feels that there are a lot of young leaders; it’s just a matter of making them more widely known, and creating opportunities for them to continue their engagement after high school.

The Governor General’s Round-Tabl​e on Youth Engagement

The youth representatives were tasked with exploring several questions related to youth engagement. Examples include:

  • What are some of the obstacles to engagement that youth may face? What would help to address these?
  • What is your experience in dealing with barriers to engagement?
  • What can young people do to increase their involvement?
  • What can organizations that work with youth do to support their engagement?

Do you have any answers to these questions, or experiences that relate to them? Let us know!

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Olivia on the Hill: Part Two

January 7th, 2014 by Olivia Dorey

CIVIX team member Olivia Dorey is meeting with Members of Parliament to learn about the presence of politicians in schools and how we can build and improve our programs. Olivia has already met with MPs Scott Andrews, Manon Perreault and Mike Lake.

Olivia travelled home to Halifax for the holidays and also met with a few of her hometown MPs.

MEGAN LESLIE

Megan Leslie is the NDP deputy leader, environment critic, and the MP for Halifax, Nova Scotia. She studied law at Dalhousie, and was elected to the House of Commons in 2011. Her “community office” is also used as an art gallery and has local events posted in the windows. She has most recently engaged local students through “Create Your Canada,” a contest developed by fellow NDP MP Nathan Cullen to encourage Grade 5 to 12 students to submit proposals for federal legislation. Leslie can also be found wandering the college and university campuses in her riding, holding talks and giving presentations. 

Olivia and Megan Leslie

Ms. Leslie’s riding includes two public high schools and over five private schools. When asked, she is only too happy to attend, and visits are booked through teachers who understand that she is accessible. During school visits, her talks often come back to the fact that she “is just someone from the community; I am just you. I do my best to make people understand that we rely on communities to become experts; I acknowledge our dependence as MPs on those members. I try to demystify who we are.”

You can also visit Megan Leslie’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

GEOFF REGAN

Geoff Regan is the Liberal MP for Halifax West, and currently serving his sixth term, having only had one break in service since 1993. Mr. Regan, like Ms. Leslie, practiced law before running for office. He is married to Kelly Regan, the Liberal MLA for the provincial riding of Bedford. Geoff recently hosted his 114th “Let’s Talk” roundtable, an event open to community members and organizations. 

Olivia and Geoff Regan

Mr. Regan enjoys educational visits, particularly the question and answer portion. He says that he is most often invited to, and able to attend, ceremonial and fundraising events because of the way time in constituencies is allocated: MP “break weeks” often fall around ceremonies such as Remembrance Day, holiday concerts, and graduations. They also tend to make time for key fundraising events during the fall for organizations, and during the spring for schools. He interacts with youth often through the clubs with which his kids are involved, particularly Scouts. His goal in any interaction with students is to empower them to look at issues they care about and to ask themselves how to fix it.

You can also visit Geoff Regan’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

 

Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings!

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Olivia on the Hill: Week One

December 13th, 2013 by Olivia Dorey

CIVIX team member Olivia Dorey is meeting with Members of Parliament to learn about the presence of politicians in schools and how we can build and improve our programs.

Here’s a recap of Olivia’s first three meetings:

SCOTT ANDREWS

Scott Andrews is the Liberal MP for Avalon in Newfoundland and Labrador and has represented the riding federally since 2008. He has been working for his region in various levels of government for 12 years and is very involved in his communities despite the geographic complications he faces as an MP in a rural riding. When I asked him about how he navigated around the schools within his riding, he and his assistant hopped up and pointed each one out to me on the map.

Scott Andrews

There are roughly 30 schools in Avalon, and he has made a habit of dropping in on them when he is in the area. He engages elementary students by compiling their art in a calendar and distributing it as housewarming gift to his constituents each year. He chuckled and shook his head when he realized that the artists for the first calendars were now in high school, muttering that he was getting old. Mr. Andrews makes a point of visiting career development classes and attending Remembrance Day ceremonies when possible.

Scott  Andrews took part in Rep Day this September at Baccalieu Collegiate. He also won his seat in the 2011 federal Student Vote. You can visit Scott Andrews’ website and Member of Parliament Profile.

MANON PERREAULT

Manon Perreault is the NDP MP for Montcalm, Québec and has represented the riding since 2011. Perreault is a long-term resident of the region,  where she lives with her husband, Jean-Pierre. She was tasked with the critic portfolio of persons with disabilities, another cause she holds very dear, as she herself has restricted mobility. Mme Perrault believes the role of an MP is to engage young people in conversation with her, and participate in political dialogue at large.

Manon Perreault

When her students visit Parliament, they learn all about the building, people and procedures within, and learn more specifically the role of an MP when they visit her constituency office. She is always ready to answer the questions of her young constituents, and does so with the warm smile and friendliness that is her trademark. Mme Perreault makes a point to attend ceremonial events for Scouts and Cadets, and often schedules individual visits with students with disabilities through the social work network, with whom she works closely.

Manon Perreault won her seat in the 2011 federal Student Vote. You can also visit Manon Perreault’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

MIKE LAKE

Mike Lake is the Conservative MP for Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont and has represented the riding since 2006. Before venturing into the political sphere, he held various senior positions with the Edmonton Oilers hockey team. His children are Jayden and Jenae, and the whole family is very active in the autism community at the local, national, and international level. Because he commits so much time to that cause, his time in his riding is particularly valuable. Mr. Lake makes time to meet the students in his riding because he views it as is critical to his role as an MP, one he finds beneficial not only to students, but enriching and valuable for himself.

Olivia with Mike Lake

Going into meetings with students, he assumes that the students will be smarter than he expects them to be, and that they want to ask questions. He uses the diversity in his riding to remind students to consider what it means to be a citizen of Canada, and why people from all over the world choose to move here. Mr. Lake hopes that students leave encounters with him seeing themselves reflected in his message of political empowerment and engagement.

Mike Lake won his seat in the 2011 federal Student Vote. You can also visit Mike Lake’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings on Parliament Hill!

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New Staff Profile: Olivia Dorey

December 11th, 2013 by CIVIX

My name is Olivia, and I’m going to be working with CIVIX from the capital, where I study Public Administration at the University of Ottawa. I met CIVIX President Taylor Gunn this spring through my friend Megan Beretta, another CIVIX volunteer.

I became enamoured with civic education and financial literacy during my first year at university while working as a page in the House of Commons. The experience of handing out budget documents was very powerful, and I’m glad to be involved with this year’s Student Budget Consultation to help make sense of public spending for other students.

Olivia Dorey

I was very late beginning my own civic education, but luckily enrolled in Mr. Oddy’s political science class during my grade 12 year; it’s hasn’t been very long, but  it has been all-consuming! After the page program, I worked briefly this fall as a tour guide in parliament before joining CIVIX and spending two fantastic days with the team in Toronto.

My passion for financial literacy is rooted in the budgetary process. I’m slowly working my way through the procedures, the people, and the protocol that turns taxes into programs and infrastructure for Canadians, so I’m very excited to be helping to kick start that journey for my peers. I refuse to believe that young people are inherently apathetic, and am honoured to be helping to distribute the tools that will educate and engage them. Education, after all, is empowerment!

For now, my task is launching an awareness campaign in Ottawa. My goal is to meet as many Members of Parliament as possible to learn about the presence of politicians in schools and how we can build and improve our Rep Day initiative to help turn the students in their constituencies into active, critically-thinking citizens.

I’ll be writing regular updates on the MPs I meet with and our discussions. Stay tuned, and wish me luck!

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