Olivia at the New Canada Conference

September 9th, 2014 by Olivia Dorey

Last week I had the honour of joining 99 other youth delegates from across Canada at the New Canada Conference in Charlottetown, PEI. The conference was held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference and the conception of Canadian confederation. Our time on the island was short and our task was lofty: we were to conceive a vision for the next fifty years in Canada. In short, we were asked to design a new Canada. 


Many elements were recurrent throughout all eight working groups and pervaded most discussions. We spoke of sustainability, national identity, leadership and without fail, each group stressed the need for a complete overhaul of relationships with the indigenous peoples of Canada. We considered our place in the world, our duties, our values, and were both daunted and inspired by how much there is to be done.

When it came to getting down to work, we faced a novel problem: our categories, in my case civic engagement and social cohesion, were broad, and differences in our individual experiences and perspectives were staggering. We brought to the table such variations in expertise and priorities that it was a challenge just to define our goals. We had a glimpse of what it is to govern a country as diverse and vast as ours, and at the end of our three day ordeal, we were exhausted. 


Something remarkable happened last week. The delegates of the New Canada Conference had the opportunity to draw a blueprint for Canada without having to consider elections and political ideology. The difference between the short-term vision that is so often held for those very reasons were gone and we were able to imagine building a truly great country. 

Without a long-term strategy, very few of the elements of our vision are possible. It is going to take co-operation and collaboration between political parties, communities, and identity groups. Successive governments must build on the labors of one another with a common vision in mind. We recognize the cynicism and apathy around us, and we are determined to work through it and bring this country along with us. We are proud of our work, but we’ve really only just begun. Hopefully, fifty years from now our efforts will have paid off and we will be living in a new Canada. 

Olivia Dorey is the Parliamentary Outreach and Research Officer for CIVIX.

Posted in Olivia on the Hill |

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