Olivia on the Hill: Thibeault, Goodyear, Sopuck and Gosal

July 10th, 2014 by Olivia Dorey

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 Glenn Thibeault, Gary Goodyear, Robert Sopuck and Bal Gosal.

GLENN THIBEAULT

Meet Mr. Thibeault; NDP MP for Sudbury. In Ontario, there are a great many different categories of school boards; there are separate and public, English and French, and Mr. Thibeault’s riding happens to contain all four of them! His civic education didn’t begin until late in life while he was pursuing a career in journalism, before which he had never spoken to a politician. He attributes a large part of his success in the 2008 election on fifteen devoted high school students.

Glenn Thibeault

His most important message to students is that he works for them, telling them that “you are my boss. You talk to your parents about your issues!” and asking them if they think that politics is important. He tries to convey to them that his decisions “now make the most impact on you because you have to live with them the longest,” and to make sure that they research all the parties – Rhinoceros included – before they vote. As for him, he teases them that he’ll be tracking them down when they turn 18, but is content to help make them civic-minded in the meantime.

You can also visit Glenn Thibeault’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

GARY GOODYEAR

Meet Mr. Goodyear; Conservative MP for Cambridge-North Dumfries. He had worked in the auto mechanic industry and the healthcare industry, but it was only when a friend asked him to join that he considered politics. He calculated that over his twenty years as a chiropractor, he had helped roughly 14,000 people, so he decided to give it up so that he could serve 130,000 every year. Mr. Goodyear happily invites students to follow him for a day on the Hill, or to drop by his offices.

Gary Goodyear

When asked about his own civic education, he grimly reported that it was “zero,” and continued to speak firmly on the current state of affairs: “it’s up to the federal government to help education because we’re passing too many kids who are graduating without being able to make a dollar, let alone understand the political process.” That said, he is hopeful because he sees lots of young people who have plans and ambitions to pursue careers in different fields and eventually make their way in politics, but is disappointed that – for the time being – this mind-frame is fairly contained to the infamous Ottawa-bubble.

You can also visit Gary Goodyear’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

ROBERT SOPUCK

Meet Mr. Sopuck; Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette. Imagine being responsible for fifteen small high schools, another fifteen-odd junior highs and elementary schools, plus five First Nations schools and ten Hutterite colonies. Now imagine that they are spread over 55 square kilometers, or, roughly the size of Denmark; this is a day in the life of Mr. Sopuck! He spoke about his riding with great fondness and pride, describing the interests and aptitudes of the young people in his small communities, and the adults “interesting dynamic between discipline and strong affection” for the children in his many Hutterite communities.

As far as he is concerned, his riding has everything, and chuckled that he “is the riding!” His role is to share how the decisions of the government has such an impact on the students, and goes so far as to say that is the overall importance of broader education; to learn how to take control of your life.

You can also visit Robert Sopuck’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

BAL GOSAL

Meet Mr. Gosal; Conservative MP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton. Because of his portfolio as the Minister of State (Sport), he often has the chance to spend time with student athletes, but makes a point of making a visit to a classroom about once a month. He does his best to follow-up and keep in touch with the students through social media, and is always pleased when the school partakes as well.

Bal Gosal

His goal is to “make them aware of how the educational and political systems work.” He has worked with young people as a soccer coach, and on board of the Christians Aid Society, and now engages them by consulting student councils. He is of the belief that “when kids are involved in sports, you will see them excel in education as well.”

You can also visit Bal Gosal’s website and Member of Parliament Profile.

Stay tuned for more of Olivia’s meetings!

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