Olivia on the Hill: Rankin, Brosseau and Poilievre
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 Murray Rankin, Ruth Ellen Brosseau and Pierre Poilievre.
Murray Rankin is the NDP MP for Victoria and Official Critic for National Revenue and Pensions. He is a laureate of the University of Toronto and Harvard, and was an associate professor at the University of Victoria when he was elected in 2012. He also has a private law practice, and is devoted to the protection of the environment.
When Mr. Rankin visits students, his primary goal is to open their eyes to the reality of being a politician. He had high praise for the teachers in his riding, claiming that “the best and brightest come to Victoria!,” and expressed concerns not about, but rather for his students; “I don’t care which party or which level of government they come out to support, as long as they come out. I think there is a great debt that we’re leaving to them…”
RUTH ELLEN BROSSEAU
Ruth Ellen Brosseau is the NDP MP for Berthier – Maskinongé and deputy critic for agriculture. She has a 13-year-old son named Logan who is very dedicated to the cause Shannen’s Dream. She involves young people directly in politics, and once placed a 15-year-old in charge of her communications.
Her own civic education has been unconventional, and she continues to learn on the job each day. Her parents “taught her to question everything,” and she often discussed politics with friends, but she admits that in 2011 she “wasn’t supposed to win, but it was a very special time. I hope to validate my election in 2015.”
Brosseau was taking part in the University of Western Ontario’s ‘Women in House’ program when I spoke to her, so I had the chance to chat with student Cailie McIntosh as well. She proposed extending the Civics half of Ontario’s grade 10 Civics and Career Studies class to a full year course to provide students with a more practical knowledge base and understanding of government. Brosseau was very pleased to have Cailie with her, and she asserted that “we need more women, more young women involved.”
Pierre Poilievre is the Conservative MP for Nepean- Carleton, and Minister of Democratic Reform. The idea for a child fitness credit came from one of his constituents, which he saw through to realization. His riding has a large population base of approximately 170,000 people and it is very family-oriented, so he represents a particularly large number of schools. While he hasn’t received many invitations to visit classrooms yet, he is very willing to do so. He frequently interacts with the youth of his riding who turn out to the roughly 150 community events that he attends every year. Poilievre is often impressed by the knowledge base of the classes that he has had the chance to visit.
He spoke at length about his stance on civic education, and shared his own civic education story: in the 9th grade he joined the debate club and taught himself about political ideologies – a pastime he continues to indulge. As for his role in the civic education of students, he had this to say: “Politicians are biased, so there are limitations on how much we can objectively educate students about civic education. The inherent competitiveness of politics drives us to seek out like-minded individuals and to try to engage them, whereas it is the role of schools to provide students with basic fundamental knowledge of politics. I won’t pretend that I present a sanitized, political-science-textbook lesson; I answer questions honestly.”
Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings!
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