The Plane Has Landed

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Participation Monday, April 21, 2014 View Count = 1555

The Plane Has Landed

Today's blog post comes from John Beebe, Samara's Manager of Outreach who runs our Democracy Talks program.

On April 11, I flew to Winnipeg to join over 150 educators and community organizers along with eight Members of Parliament from across party lines in launching a national initiative that will reach out and engage young people in politics.  

The project is led by The Speaker of the House of Commons Andrew Scheer and includes a series of events across the country. It is celebrating the work of students and educators interested in improving democratic participation in Canada, and inviting all MPs to dedicate one day to visiting schools and classrooms. Speaker Scheer is the youngest Speaker of the House in Canadian history and this piece of his work is certainly challenging widespread negative stereotypes of politicians and politics.  

The Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer, and MP Joyce Batemen speak to students at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg

Why do I say that this initiative is challenging stereotypes?

First, it is non-partisan. Members of Parliament from all parties are encouraged to participate. Second, it reaches out to young people, most of whom are not yet eligible to vote. And third, in the time I spent with MPs in Manitoba classrooms, I saw Members of Parliament give direct answers to thoughtful questions from young people. 

Samara, along with Civix and the Library of Parliament, were invited to join the Speaker’s initiative and to share our outreach efforts with participating educators and community groups. The goal is for our programs to provide support and programming materials that can help continue building the trust and connections between government and citizens which we so often hear are missing.  

Will this effort solve the challenge of effectively engaging young people in our democracy? No. That will require far more opportunities for young people to have their voices heard and to hear from politicians who speak to issues they care about.  

Is this a step in the right direction? Absolutely. And for that, Speaker Scheer, all the MPs, educators and students involved should be applauded.

And the amount of press coverage this effort received? None.  Because as Speaker Scheer said in his remarks launching the initiative, the press never reports “that the plane has landed safely.”

Curious about Democracy Talks? Read more..

Wisdom from the frontlines

The power of political conversation

Looking for more reflections on democracy in Canada? Read our book! 

In Tragedy in the Commons, Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan, Samara's founders, draw on an astonishing eighty exit interviews with former Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum to unearth surprising observations about the practice of politics in Canada.

With unprecedented access to the perspective and experience of Canada's public leaders, Tragedy in the Commons offers solutions for improving the way politics works in Canada, and how all Canadians can reinvigorate a democracy that has lost its way, its purpose and the support of the public it is meant to serve.



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