By Matt Rabey
Model Parliament 2013 saw more than 100 Laurentian University students attend. These students got to experience firsthand how Canada’s Parliament operates by allowing students to hold a simulated session in the actual House of Commons.
“I couldn’t be happier with how Model Parliament went this year,” said Mark Mancini, President of the Laurentian University Political Science Association. “Our team worked extremely hard to plan a great event.”
One of the students at this year’s event included, Carolyn Leblanc, Leader of the national First Peoples National Party:
“I thoroughly enjoyed this experience,” said Leblanc. “I think that coming before the House of Commons even though we are a model parliament, it was a great opportunity to speak to actual members of the house, presenting our opinions as future leaders of the government.”
Also in attendance were actual members of the Canadian Government, including Sudbury MP Glenn Thibeault.
Leblanc said having actual members of the House present during Model Parliament was beneficial.
“I think that those who are in the government who chose to participate today actually are listening to students and by listening they hear what first nations and students are concerned with. I think that is a much better way for us to have our voices heard and respected. When More than 100 LU students
attend Model Parliament we act in a civic manner and a dignified manner, people will listen
and people will take our concerns seriously. I think that I was able to achieve that today with all the speeches that were presented by my party.”
Another Laurentian University student, Brandon Michaud, a fourth-year Philosophy Major was more critical of the Parliament process and stated:
“Model parliament is a lot like playing house for students. Like real politicians, nobody takes it seriously. Outside we had the Idle No More protestors doing some important work for Canada.
Yet there were still people in parliament oblivious to the problems facing aboriginal people, that or willfully ignorant of it.”
During the Model Parliament, the chiefs and leaders of the Idle No More movement came to the Anti Chamber of the House of Commons.
Michaud stated: “Some of the students such as Samantha Bokma and Mathieu Labonte took a minute to go wish the protestors their best. I think that was more important than anything that happened inside parliament that day.”
Model Parliament was also an opportunity for some international students to experience Canada’s parliamentary process.
Sarah Chalencon, a Political Science Major from France, has a unique perspective to offer as she was employed on an internship with the French parliament.
During her time in the French parliament, Chalencon was employed by the Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP). She had many tasks while employed there, including speech writing and dealing with letters sent to the French delegates from the French people.
Chalencon had this to say about some of the differences, including that in France there is not a requirement to wear a jacket and tie: “It’s less traditional [in France], we don’t have all the ceremonies at the beginning [like the Canadian parliament], just a beginning and an ending.”
Yet, the Canadian and the French parliaments have many aspects that are similar or the same, as Chalencon explained: “It’s quite the same, the questions to the government, we [in France] have this to.”
The French also have the same method as Canada for the passing of letters and notes between members of parliament. Chalencon, having worked for the French delegates and seeing them do this, she commented that it was always a dream of hers to be able to pass a note in parliament.
Chalencon enjoyed the time in Ottawa and added: “It was really a great experience. It was really interesting.”