A first-hand look at govern­ment

Grade 8 stu­dent Olivia Grosk­leg served a four­week term as a page at the On­tario Leg­is­la­ture

The Daily Observer - - NEWS - CÉLINA IP

A lo­cal stu­dent has com­pleted a new chap­ter in her school ca­reer as a Queen’s Park leg­isla­tive page.

Olivia Grosk­leg, a Grade 8 stu­dent at Cen­tre Sco­laire Catholique Jeanne-La­joie, was among a se­lect group of On­tario stu­dents to be awarded a four­week term to serve as a leg­isla­tive page at the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly of On­tario in Toronto.

Pages have been an im­por­tant part of On­tario’s leg­is­la­ture since Con­fed­er­a­tion. Dur­ing their term of duty, the page serves as a messenger on the floor of the Leg­isla­tive Cham­ber, meets key par­lia­men­tary fig­ures and learns about On­tario’s par­lia­men­tary sys­tem of govern­ment. Each year, about 60 stu­dents – in Grades 7 or 8 – from across On­tario are se­lected to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram, with only 20 can­di­dates tak­ing part in each ses­sion.

The ap­pli­ca­tion and se­lec­tion process is highly com­pet­i­tive, as the pro­gram is de­signed for out­go­ing, high-achiev­ing, com­mu­nity-in­volved stu­dents who have demon­strated re­spon­si­bil­ity and leadership.

In or­der to be con­sid­ered for the page pro­gram, stu­dents must be in Grade 7 or 8 and have an aca­demic av­er­age of 80 per cent or higher. The ap­pli­cants should also be in­volved in a va­ri­ety of ex­tracur­ric­u­lar and com­mu­nity-based ac­tiv­i­ties, demon­strate leadership skills and have an in­ter­est cur­rent af­fairs.

This year, 300 stu­dents from across On­tario ap­plied for the pro­gram, and fol­low­ing the rig­or­ous se­lec­tion process, Olivia Grosk­leg was among the mere 20 who were ac­cepted.

Over the past few years, four of the six Grosk­leg chil­dren have ap­plied and been for­tu­nate enough to be se­lected for the pro­gram, with Olivia be­ing the fourth and most re­cent to take part.

“Olivia was a lit­tle scared to wish for it too hard be­cause three had al­ready got­ten ac­cepted from our fam­ily so what was the chance of an­other? We were all pretty shocked that she got ac­cepted too,” said Jennifer Grosk­leg, Olivia’s mom. “We’re very proud that they were all ac­cepted as they are very ded­i­cated girls, they work hard in school, they are in­volved with ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lars and ev­ery sport they can at school, they vol­un­teer and they teach horse­back-rid­ing. What they do, they do as much as they can and do it very well.”

Af­ter hear­ing about Olivia’s ac­cep­tance into the pro­gram, her mom con­tacted MPP John Yak­abuski’s of­fice to in­form him of the good news.

“A cou­ple of years ago af­ter our daugh­ter Syd­ney went into the pro­gram, John Yakas­buski’s of­fice told me that nowhere in On­tario had they had four girls from the same fam­ily ac­cepted for this page pro­gram. He had told us that Olivia could ap­ply in two years and if she got in, it will break a record for us,” said Jennifer. “So I called his of­fice and said “could you just let Mr. Yak­abuski know that there’s an­other Grosk­leg daugh­ter that will be join­ing him at Queen’s Park.”

Prior to be­gin­ning the pro­gram, Olivia had to study and learn the faces, names and seat­ing lo­ca­tions of the 107 MPP’s be­fore ar­riv­ing at Queen’s Park for the first day.

Af­ter prep­ping for the pro­gram with the rig­or­ous stud­ies, the Jeanne-La­joie stu­dent packed her bags and headed off to Toronto.

Tak­ing place from Sept. 11 to Oct. 5, Olivia joined the 19 other pages – rep­re­sent­ing dif­fer­ent rid­ings across On­tario – to en­gage in the unique Leg­isla­tive Page Pro­gram at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

Through­out the four-week pro­gram, the pages served a sim­ple but highly im­por­tant role, with du­ties that in­cluded run­ning er­rands, de­liv­er­ing mes­sages and grab­bing wa­ter for the mem­bers of pro­vin­cial par­lia­ment. Pages also for­mally par­tic­i­pated in par­lia­men­tary pro­ce­dure by de­liv­er­ing bills, mo­tions, pe­ti­tions and of­fi­cial house doc­u­ments ac­cord­ing to par­lia­men­tary rules.

“We were sort of like wait­resses be­cause we’d de­liver wa­ter to them, de­liver notes to an­other MPP or some­one through­out the leg­isla­tive build­ing, we’d make pho­to­copies or print out forms for them and we’d some­times have to get their phones from their of­fice and bring it to them in­side the cham­ber,” said Olivia.

While ful­fill­ing their du­ties, the pages had op­por­tu­ni­ties to meet over 100 par­lia­men­tary and po­lit­i­cal fig­ures, and they learned first­hand about On­tario’s par­lia­ment and the leg­isla­tive process.

“One of the high­lights was that we got to meet Premier Kath­leen Wynne and Lt.-Gov. El­iz­a­beth Dowdeswell and we got to have lunch with the speaker and the main clerk,” said Olivia.

Olivia said that she was ex­cited to get a first-hand look at how govern­ment works and func­tions.

“I learned how they make a law, how the day will go, how they choose which MPPs will be in­side the Leg­isla­tive Cham­ber and at what time – be­cause they all have as­signed times through­out the week to come into the cham­ber,” said Olivia.

Along with the ed­u­ca­tional as­pect of the pro­gram, the pages en­joyed a weekly field trip ev­ery Fri­day to places that in­cluded the Ri­p­ley’s Aquar­ium, the Royal On­tario Mu­seum and the Aga Khan Mu­seum.

Af­ter com­plet­ing the pro­gram, Grosk­leg re­ceived a let­ter from Leg­isla­tive Page Pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor Rachel Col­ley who wrote that Grosk­leg had demon­strated out­stand­ing ma­tu­rity, re­spon­si­bil­ity and a high stan­dard of per­for­mance through­out the pro­gram.

“The du­ties of a leg­isla­tive page are very de­mand­ing. Pages are ex­pected to ex­er­cise good judge­ment, tact and diplo­macy when deal­ing with un­pre­dictable sit­u­a­tions that may arise in the leg­isla­tive cham­ber and when in­ter­act­ing with mem­bers of pro­vin­cial par­lia­ment and the of­fi­cers of the house,” wrote Col­ley. “When pre­par­ing the cham­ber for the daily meet­ings of the leg­is­la­ture, Olivia per­formed her du­ties ef­fi­ciently and pro­fes­sion­ally. As a leg­isla­tive page, a high stan­dard of per­for­mance is ex­pected, and Olivia cer­tainly met these stan­dards.” CIp@post­media.com

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Olivia Grosk­leg, a Grade 8 stu­dent at Cen­tre Sco­laire Catholique Jean­neLa­joie, served as a page for at the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly in Toronto this year.

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