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Students debate income inequality at Francophone youth parliament

Participants in a Francophone youth parliament from left, Daniel Boutin, Nicholas Doiron and Katelyn Gill, take part in one of the mock debates held at the Coles Building this weekend. The three-day exercise allowed youth to explore both light-hearted and heavy topics in an environment that accurately mirrored parliamentary debate.
Participants in a Francophone youth parliament from left, Daniel Boutin, Nicholas Doiron and Katelyn Gill, take part in one of the mock debates held at the Coles Building this weekend. The three-day exercise allowed youth to explore both light-hearted and heavy topics in an environment that accurately mirrored parliamentary debate.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. ¬– A number of potential future politicians debated some of the pressing issues facing Canadians during a Francophone youth parliament on P.E.I. this past weekend.

More than 50 participants from all Atlantic provinces took part in the three-day exercise.

Although the debates were held in the Coles Building Friday and Saturday, participants finished the event in their hotel conference room on Sunday due to the weather.

Karine Gallant, main co-ordinator of the event, said she felt participants showed a lot of promise.

“They were all engaged and very competent,” said Gallant. “They did everything in the right context and showed a lot of creativity and spontaneity.”

The process followed procedures that accurately mirror parliamentary debate.

Dartmouth resident Daniel Boutin, who served as prime minister and was also part of the organizing committee, said he was glad with how comfortable participants were.

“That isn’t something that always happens so fast. Legislative debating can be a little intimidating among the younger crowd,” he said. “We had a really great team and a great dynamic.”

Adrien Buote said it was his third time participating in a youth parliament.

“I found it was excellent,” said Buote, who is originally from Rustico and is now studying at the University of Moncton.

The event also included participants acting as journalists and lobbyists.

Buote, who represented a third party member, even got to introduce his own private member’s bill to reform Canada’s transportation infrastructure.

“It made public transportation free, dropped the bridge toll and encouraged a lot of green energy development,” he said.

Many of the ideas reflected issues currently being debated across the country.

One piece of legislation proposed a minimum and maximum income while another advocated for free university tuition.

A surprise over the weekend also led to a lengthy look at electoral reform, an ongoing issue in P.E.I. and on the national stage.

A mock emergency saw the “Queen” address Parliament once it was discovered the prime minister and opposition leader were both involved in fraud.

Boutin said the exaggerated scenario allowed participants examine different electoral models in depth.

“It was a bit of an exercise in teaching all the participants of the different ways we can translate votes into seats and helping them understand what the strong points were in every system,” said Boutin. “It was there to help participants further understand what exactly we’re talking about in terms of electoral reform.”

Introducing the topic was decided by organizers almost two years ago, well before it was announced P.E.I. would be holding a plebiscite on the very issue.

“It wasn’t as much of a hot button topic then so we’re really glad that it’s being spoken about more,” said Boutin. “It was really sheer luck that we picked an issue we felt strongly about that unbeknownst to us at the time would be current news.”

The weekend also saw visits from P.E.I. premier Wade MacLauchlan, speaker Buck Watts and senator Diane Griffin.

The next event is being held in 2019 in Saint John’s, N.L., where Buote will serve as a cabinet minister while fellow Islander Catherine MacDonald will serve as speaker.    

More than 50 participants from all Atlantic provinces took part in the three-day exercise.

Although the debates were held in the Coles Building Friday and Saturday, participants finished the event in their hotel conference room on Sunday due to the weather.

Karine Gallant, main co-ordinator of the event, said she felt participants showed a lot of promise.

“They were all engaged and very competent,” said Gallant. “They did everything in the right context and showed a lot of creativity and spontaneity.”

The process followed procedures that accurately mirror parliamentary debate.

Dartmouth resident Daniel Boutin, who served as prime minister and was also part of the organizing committee, said he was glad with how comfortable participants were.

“That isn’t something that always happens so fast. Legislative debating can be a little intimidating among the younger crowd,” he said. “We had a really great team and a great dynamic.”

Adrien Buote said it was his third time participating in a youth parliament.

“I found it was excellent,” said Buote, who is originally from Rustico and is now studying at the University of Moncton.

The event also included participants acting as journalists and lobbyists.

Buote, who represented a third party member, even got to introduce his own private member’s bill to reform Canada’s transportation infrastructure.

“It made public transportation free, dropped the bridge toll and encouraged a lot of green energy development,” he said.

Many of the ideas reflected issues currently being debated across the country.

One piece of legislation proposed a minimum and maximum income while another advocated for free university tuition.

A surprise over the weekend also led to a lengthy look at electoral reform, an ongoing issue in P.E.I. and on the national stage.

A mock emergency saw the “Queen” address Parliament once it was discovered the prime minister and opposition leader were both involved in fraud.

Boutin said the exaggerated scenario allowed participants examine different electoral models in depth.

“It was a bit of an exercise in teaching all the participants of the different ways we can translate votes into seats and helping them understand what the strong points were in every system,” said Boutin. “It was there to help participants further understand what exactly we’re talking about in terms of electoral reform.”

Introducing the topic was decided by organizers almost two years ago, well before it was announced P.E.I. would be holding a plebiscite on the very issue.

“It wasn’t as much of a hot button topic then so we’re really glad that it’s being spoken about more,” said Boutin. “It was really sheer luck that we picked an issue we felt strongly about that unbeknownst to us at the time would be current news.”

The weekend also saw visits from P.E.I. premier Wade MacLauchlan, speaker Buck Watts and senator Diane Griffin.

The next event is being held in 2019 in Saint John’s, N.L., where Buote will serve as a cabinet minister while fellow Islander Catherine MacDonald will serve as speaker.    

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