A lit­tle taste of the House

N.L. Youth Par­lia­ment gives lo­cal teens po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence


The House of Assem­bly is a place where newly-elected mem­bers may take their seat sport­ing a nice head of darkly-coloured hair, only to leave a few years later with oo­dles of greys show­ing.

It’s a tense and some­times com­bat­ive en­vi­ron­ment. Re­cently, there was a mas­sive de­mo­graph­ics shift in the House, but it had noth­ing to do with an over­thrown gov­ern­ment or shot­gun elec­tion.

New­found­land and Labrador Youth Par­lia­ment was in ses­sion for four days at the start of Fe­bru­ary, with dozens of youth rang­ing in age from 15 to 23 tak­ing time to de­bate res­o­lu­tions and learn more about the po­lit­i­cal process.

Sarah Knight of Blake­town and Ryan Bar­rett of Old Per­li­can were newcomers to Youth Par­lia­ment, while Pa­trick Ne­whook of Dildo was tak­ing part for a sec­ond time.

“I’ve al­ways had a very deep in­ter­est in (pol­i­tics),” ex­plained Ne­whook, an 18-year-old cur­rently tak­ing en­gi­neer­ing cour­ses at Col­lege of the North At­lantic.

He heard about the pro­gram last year as a Grade 12 stu­dent at Cres­cent Col­le­giate in South Dildo. In­trigued by it, Ne­whook de­cided to ap­ply, and the ex­pe­ri­ence last year com­pelled him to come back.

“It was re­ally ed­u­ca­tional and I learned a lot about pol­i­tics and how the prov­ince works. All the peo­ple there were su­per nice and friendly, and it was just a great time.”

Knight, 16, heard about it from a friend.

“I kind of wanted to get a bet­ter idea of how gov­ern­ment and leg­is­la­tion works in our prov­ince, so I thought that would be a good op­por­tu­nity to do so,” she told The Com­pass.

“At first I was a lit­tle bit ner­vous, be­cause our first res­o­lu­tion was re­gard­ing the Nal­cor (Crown) cor­po­ra­tion in New­found­land and Labrador, so that was a big topic to wrap your head around. But once we got talk­ing and started de­bat­ing on it, it was a lit­tle bit more com­fort­able, and I was able to get up and speak a cou­ple of times.”

Knight’s per­for­mance in the House earned her a bit of re­spect. Her peers se­lected her as Youth Par­lia­ment’s rookie of the year.

Bar­rett, 18, also has an in­ter­est in pol­i­tics. He heard oth­ers talk about Youth Par­lia­ment and de­cided to give it a shot.

“I was only ac­cepted about a week be­fore it hap­pened, and I got the sched­ule and said, ‘Oh my good­ness, I’m go­ing to miss so much school.’ But when I got into the whole de­bate and the ses­sion, all those con­cerns went away be­cause I learned so much, I met so many new peo­ple, and it was just com­pletely worth it.”

Ne­whook, who was the MHA for Bon­av­ista, ap­pre­ci­ates the va­ri­ety of top­ics the young Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans get to de­bate. In four days, they cov­ered ev­ery­thing from Nal­cor and an­i­mal rights to tourism.

“Ques­tion pe­riod is al­ways a great time, be­cause it’s a mix- ture be­tween re­ally se­ri­ous ques­tions about a res­o­lu­tion and lots of jokey stuff,” he said. “So it helps bal­ance ev­ery­thing out.”

Bar­rett, cur­rently in his first year at Memo­rial Univer­sity, was par­tic­u­larly fond of meet­ing oth­ers with a shared in­ter­est in pol­i­tics. He was also proud to rep­re­sent Car­bon­ear-Trin­ity-Bay de Verde in the House.

Like Knight, he en­joyed the dis­cus­sion about Nal­cor En­ergy.

“Me per­son­ally, I’m very in­ter­ested in the whole Muskrat Falls pro­ject, and hear­ing dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives about how we can im­prove Nal­cor and the prob­lems that the com­pany face, I think that was re­ally in­ter­est­ing.”

Bar­rett was also im­pressed with the House of Assem­bly.

“For some­one like me, when you go into the cham­ber, the House of Assem­bly, and the Con­fed­er­a­tion Build­ing as a whole, I find that I just got sort of a nat­u­ral high. I was so ex­cited and I was so en­thu­si­as­tic about be­ing there and be­ing able to re­ally take part in the po­lit­i­cal process.”

Knight served as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Pla­cen­tia-St. Mary’s. There are no spe­cific par­ties in Youth Par­lia­ment, though there are op­po­si­tion crit­ics and a pre­mier.

The ex­pe­ri­ence gave her a strong sense of what it takes to serve in pub­lic of­fice.

“I think it’s some­thing that you need to be very con­fi­dent in your­self and what you be­lieve, be­cause just from this ex­pe­ri­ence, al­though it’s a lot of fun, there’s opin­ions from both sides,” Knight said. “So you re­ally need to be able to have a tough skin to hear both sides to the coin. You might have one opin­ion and feel re­ally strongly about it, but some­one might not feel the same way, so you need to be able to han­dle those things in an ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner.”


Pa­trick Ne­whook of Dildo is cur­rently study­ing en­gi­neer­ing at Col­lege of the North At­lantic.


Sarah Knight of Blake­town is a Grade 11 stu­dent at Cres­cent Col­le­giate.

Ryan Bar­rett of Old Per­li­can is in his first year of busi­ness stud­ies at Memo­rial Univer­sity. He one day hopes to study law.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.