Three local teens have received a crash-course in Canadian politics.
Alexandra Fleming, Rebecca Kuhn and Caris Nickerson were among 52 students invited to attend the Forum for Young Canadians in Ottawa Nov. 13-18.
“It’s really the experience of a lifetime,” said Fleming. “Sure you see it in the textbook and you understand, but once you actually experience it, you can put it to use.”
The goal of the program is to provide youth with a bilingual, behind-the scenes study of Parliament Hill. Students toured the House of Commons, learned about the electoral process, attended question period, and met several elected officials at an MP dinner, including local representative Mark Strahl.
Group sessions focused on the roles of cabinet, senate, speaker, clerk and supreme court. Aboriginal issues, sustainable agriculture, and media and politics were also topics covered.
“I think it was a lot more hands-on than the classroom,” said Kuhn, who is now inspired to pursue a political science education. “It was interesting to get other peoples opinions.”
The teens were surprised by the lack of agreement and “childish” antics of politicians in the House of Commons.
“It was odd to see how immature they were,” said Fleming.
“I don’t know how they get anything done,” added Nickerson.
However, seeing their political idols was a trip highlight.
For Kuhn, it was NDP member Olivia Chow, while Green Party leader Elizabeth May topped the list for Nickerson. Fleming enjoyed seeing the Emily Murphy statue on Parliament Hill. Murphy was a women’s rights activist in the early 1900s.