Olivia on the Hill: David Wilks
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 Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks.
David Wilks is the Conservative MP for Kootenay-Columbia, a fascinating riding because it is so rural. The largest of the twenty-four communities in his riding is Cranbrook, population 25,000, which explains why he finds himself representing around a dozen high schools. Despite the geographic challenges he managed to visit all but two last year by making sure to contact them when he was driving through.
Mr. Wilks chooses his presentation strategy according to age level, sometimes opening the floor to questions, taking preset questions, or chatting about current bills. However, parts of his riding have the particularity of having a four day school week, so he divides those grade 5 classes into government and opposition, and has them debate switching to a three-day school week.
Before choosing to join federal politics, he spent many years as an RCMP officer, and was acclaimed as mayor (no one ran against him). He says that the experiences were very much alike in that “you do what you can with the information that has been provided to you, knowing that you can’t please everyone; you can only do your best.” Wilks and his wife are proud owners of a bowling alley, where he often has the chance to get to know and engage the youth in his riding, who are eager to talk because he and his wife “just listen.”
While he expected “bureaucracy [to be] insane,” Wilks wasn’t always sure, upon arrival, that he was suited to the job as an MP. Luckily, he realized that could make a great contribution if he put his strengths to use, and has since dedicated himself to providing a police perspective on justice issues; “we create laws here, but someone has to enforce them, so we must be clear to avoid misinterpretation.”
Mr. Wilks made his stance on voting equally clear. He started by explaining that he has a son serving in Afghanistan, and offered a gentle reminder that women can’t vote there. By not voting, “you choose not to exercise your democratic rights,” and he therefore went so far as to say that “you have to vote.”
Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings!
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