Olivia on the Hill: Keddy, Kamp and Atamanenko
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 Gerald Keddy, Randy Kamp and Alex Atamanenko.
Gerald Keddy is the Conservative MP for South Shore – St. Margaret’s, NS, and Parliamentary Secretary for National Revenue and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. He has held a variety of political positions over his 17 years as MP, but is very committed to his life back in New Ross where he brought up his six children and was the president of the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia.
When visiting schools, Keddy does his best to convey that you don’t have to be partisan to be politically engaged. Keddy sees part of his duty as an MP as helping to break down partisan barriers and says that “there are good men and women in politics, and they belong to all parties.”
Randy Kamp is the Conservative MP for Pitt Meadows – Maple Ridge – Mission, BC, and Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Oceans and the Asia-Pacific Gateway. He is a proud grandfather of twelve, and says that visiting schools helps other young people to realize that he “only has one head,” and that he is just a person who happens to be their MP.
He doesn’t see his role as an MP as unique in civic education, stating that “if we expect people to get involved, anything we can do to personalize the process is good.” For example, he hand-writes back any hand-written letters that he receives from students. To help make the budget process real, he brings a bag of 250 quarters to classes to represent the 250 billion that the government spends, and he shows them how the budget is divided.
Alex Atamanenko is the NDP MP for British Colombia Southern Interior. He entered the political domain by “just [getting] out there and letting people get to know me” and says that “it demonstrates the strength of our system, that both myself and the incumbent candidate were sons of immigrants who came from nothing and became MPs.” Having always been an educator himself, he calls for a regulatory program which, over the course of a student’s educational career, they become better informed citizens.
He has many messages which might just take the edge off cynicism towards political institutions. At graduation ceremonies, he often points out that there are representatives belonging to each party in the audience, and that they would all love to have more young people involved. When asked about policy, he expresses his beliefs, but reminds students that though it is why he belongs to the party he does, it doesn’t make him right or wrong. In all-party-panels around election time, people become highly partisan, but “goes so far as to say that [student attendance at these events] should be mandatory!”
Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings!
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