Olivia on the Hill: Armstrong, Allison and MacAulay
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.
Today’s blog recaps Olivia’s meetings with MPs Scott Armstrong, Dean Allison and Lawrence MacAulay.
Scott Armstrong is the Conservative MP for Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and the Parliamentary Secretary for Human Resources and Skills Development. He belongs to a very old Conservative family – Sir John A. MacDonald was his great-great-great-great-great uncle- and he says that his family has always been involved politically, particularly since his grandfather is a WWI veteran.
He made a profession for himself as a principal, and therefore has a very strong relationship to the school boards in his district. As a principal, he says that his role in civic education was to “produce well-rounded, competent citizens who will contribute to society.” Now, as an MP, Armstrong views his role as one of inspiration to raise voter turnout as well as his various educational activities, which he suggests goes both ways: “you really learn from discussions with them!”
Dean Allison is the Conservative MP for Niagara West-Glanbrook, a rural riding. A businessman and philanthropist, he has served as on many boards, and has been the Chair of multiple committees since he was first elected in 2004 (which was also the first election for his then-newly-created riding). Allison has served in the House consecutively since then, and speaks well of his colleagues, asserting that “99.9% of the people on the Hill are here for the right reasons.” He joined the political domain after having discovered Preston Manning.
Political visits are reserved for campaign periods, but he maintains a strong presence in his schools through Citizenship ceremonies (of which he is terribly fond) and educational visits to classes. He uses a PowerPoint which covers the nomination process, bills, non-partisan jobs on the Hill, the committee process, and a “day-in-the-life” for about fifteen minutes before opening the floor to Q and A.
Allison doesn’t make light of his role in civic education: “Bring politics to life, put a face to a name, open them up to the idea of working for the government. Politics affects your life, so get involved, and not necessarily as a partisan. The world is what you make it, so dream big dreams.”
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay is the Liberal MP for Cardigan, and critic for fisheries and oceans. He is also the longest serving MP from the Island to date! He was a potato and dairy farmer before entering politics, and has served in an array of positions over the course of his eight terms, not the least of which was Solicitor General of Canada. His riding has three high schools, and one french K-12.
In his capacity as an MP, MacAulay believes that his role in civic education is largely tied to his responsibility of power of the purse; he believes that his duty is to provide sufficient funding to schools. That said, he enjoys school visits, and fondly says that “young people are generally bright and can cause you trouble quicker than anybody!”
Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings!
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