Olivia on the Hill: Hawn, Casey and Hyer
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 Laurie Hawn, Sean Casey and Bruce Hyer.
Laurie Hawn is the Conservative MP for Edmonton Centre and the first Member of Parliament to be appointed to the Treasury Board Cabinet Committee without being a Cabinet Minister. Considering that he used to fly jets, most people will likely understand why he says that his current job is the “second coolest” he’s had, of which he says “it can be productive, and it can also be frustrating, but we all come here for the same reason. We agree on the destination, we’re just taking different roads.”
While he has never missed a vote, his political engagement has been gradual, from avoiding being “overtly political” during his military years, to public service, and eventually, having grown concerned, he decided that “the time is now.” He floated the idea of a small tax credit for voting, suggesting that there are two ways to lead a horse, but being a believer in positive reinforcement, “I’d rather use a carrot than use a stick, but of course, you have to be able to afford the carrot!”
Sean Casey is the Liberal critic for Justice, and MP for Charlottetown; the “best riding in Canada” (so he declares!). He sees himself as very lucky to have the benefit of both a small population and a geographically small riding, which includes two high schools, two junior highs, a rough dozen elementary schools, UPEI, and Holland College.
Mr. Casey is deeply concerned about the low voter turnout, particularly in youth, for which he assumes partial blame on behalf of politicians because “it’s our responsibility to make the case that it matters.” He recognizes that all sorts of problems stem from low turnout in specific groups, and says that if a group isn’t an optimal target for voter turnout in the ‘war room’ of political strategy, they run the risk of being ‘ditched’ and therefore becoming a ‘lost generation.’ He mused that youth have never been more vulnerable, and calls on media, politicians, and voters alike to make politics more “fresh and interesting.”
Bruce Hyer is the MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, and Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada. He often refers to himself as ‘American by chance, Canadian by choice,’ having moved here in 1976 after a busy career in law enforcement and environmental activism south of the border. He has since thrived in a wilderness lifestyle, holding an array of different positions, but when asked about visiting schools to about civic education, he exclaimed “Please! Please invite me, I miss teaching!”
Mr. Hyer has a list of reforms that he believes will raise voter turnout: pass Michael Chong’s bill, ensure that there are two leaders for each political party, implement proportionate representation, and randomize seating in the House of Commons. He is also an advocate for lowering the voting age to 16, and asks youth to consider the following: “you may not like us, but we shape your entire life. You are going to inherit the world.” He suggested that like E.B. White, and like himself, young people might find it “hard to plan the day [because they] rise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.” His solution? Do both!
Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings!
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