If there's a prevailing cynicism toward politics in this country, it's understandable, given the frequency of broken promises by successive federal and provincial governments and the growing public perception that those elected to our legislatures often put their party's agenda ahead of the interests of their constituents.
That's what makes the Youth Parliament sponsored each year by the Rotary club so refreshing. Here's an event whereby the youth of our province get to take on the role of our political leaders, articulate their legislative priorities and experience the process of getting their agenda through the house. While it's an educational experience for them, it can be instructive to all of us. It's an opportunity to look with fresh eyes - specifically through the eyes of our youth - on this institution called the legislature and reflect on its role in our democracy.
This year was the 25th year of the two-day mock legislative session, which was held last week at Province House. The high school students selected for the annual event are taken through the day-to-day operations of the house and engage in the process of introducing and debating resolutions. This year, the resolutions dealt with a wide range of issues, including deregulating petroleum prices, lowering the maximum rate of return for electric utilities and imposing tough measures for impaired drivers. The young parliamentarians also got to express their concerns about the need to invest in education and health care and about the urgency of controlling spending.
The student parliamentarians' priorities seemed noticeably similar to those of their adult counterparts - the ones actually occupying the seats in today's legislature - and that was encouraging. After all, it suggests that our real-life MLAs seem to have an accurate grasp on what's on the minds of Islanders.
But what the youth parliamentarians offer is their idealism. The cut and thrust of partisan politics can often tax the goodwill of members and distract them from the focus of what the legislature is all about: bringing forth laws and initiatives that serve the people and assist them in their efforts to raise and educate and care for their families and communities. In other words, to prosper. The Youth Parliament reminds us of the vital role of the legislature as the people's forum and should impress on us the importance of keeping it relevant.
From his heavenly perch
The Stonepark Junior High School students who got a chance last week to talk to Chris Hadfield, commander of the International Space Station, had an experience most Canadians will never get. May they live long and prosper because of it.
Canadians have seen astronauts come and go into space, and while some have taken a keen interest in space exploration and experimentation, others have been more focused on what happens on planet Earth. But Hadfield, from his heavenly perch, has shown a remarkable ability to make it all relevant. Through tweeting with his fellow Earthlings, sending photos and talking with groups of Canadians, including school children, and even jointly recording music with top-name musicians, he has been including us in his own intimate space journey. In a sense, we really have been along for the ride.