Olivia on the Hill: Charmaine Borg
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.
Last week, Olivia met Charmaine Borg, the 23-year-old NDP MP for Terrebonne – Blainville, Quebec. Here’s her recap of the meeting:
Borg describes her own civic education as largely extracurricular and self-guided, although she was very pleased to have won her seat in the 2011 Student Vote! Her engagement began by founding a theatre group for under-privileged youth in her community when she was 15, but it has since taken many forms, including leadership roles in the young NDP and at McGill University.
While she now has almost three years of service as an MP under her belt, Borg says that she remains accessible to other youth, as she is only 23 and “speaks their language.” In fact, it has often been students that she has met who have invited her to visit their classes! Being French is of great importance to her, and the distinction between levels of language is very pronounced, unlike in English.
Borg sometimes finds it difficult to access certain schools and students in her Quebec riding because she is a federal representative, and because some schools don’t want to be perceived as partisan. MPs Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe and Guy Caron noted similar concerns when they spoke to Olivia last week.
Borg is worried about the apathy of youth, particularly in Quebec, who she suggests have had the roots of their cynicism validated by the outcome of the 2012 student protests. Borg laments that “they were passionate, they mobilized, and it came to nothing.”
She recognizes that it isn’t easy to imagine the tangible result of civic efforts, which is why it was so powerful to turn a bill proposed by a group of the students in her constituency regarding online privacy into a private members bill. “I am young, and I am an MP; I hope that this is proof, and inspiration for other young people to realize that they can do things of great importance.”
Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings!
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