Westisle student wins prestigious Rotary Youth Parliament Award
Westisle Composite High School student Jayce MacNeill has always had an interest in politics, especially as a potential career path. Recently, he had the chance to turn that interest into experience by taking part in the 31st Annual Rotary Youth Parliament.
The Grade 12 student was one of 36 students from across the province to take part in the two day event on Nov. 15 and 16.
One thing he wasn’t expecting to happen during the event was being awarded the 2018 Frank Zakem Memorial Award for Top Parliamentarian. The award is given to those who are the most well spoken, the most composed, and have the most parliamentary attitude.
Mr MacNeill is the first student from Westisle to win the award.
“It’s been 31 years of the Youth Parliament that’s been going on, and to hear that I was the first one was pretty cool,” he said. “Before they were announcing it, in my head I was thinking ‘It would be cool if it was me, but what are the chances?’ When they announced it, I was in shock because I didn’t think I could be on that level.”
Representing as the MLA for the riding of Alberton-Roseville, Mr MacNeill was a member of the Opposition, and was also the critic for Justice and Public Safety.
“It sort of goes along with real government, but then it doesn’t in that you’re not representing a real MLA,” he explained. “You’re still you, and it isn’t necessarily partied like Liberal or Conservative, it’s wherever you want to go, you go. They said not to follow what today’s government looks like. It was more for the experience, as if we were in government ourselves.”
Over the course of the two day event students elected leaders on each side, along with cabinet ministers who are assigned roles to research different topics. They also had the chance to propose bills or resolutions, take part in Question Period.
One of the of the most exciting parts of the event was convincing a member of the party in power to cross the floor.
“We went over Question Period, bills, resolutions and such, and that night the Rotary has us stay in a hotel,” said Mr MacNeill. “We (members of the Opposition) saw this guy had voted like-minded to us for a majority of the votes, both with bills and resolutions, and a few of us had talked to him and asked him if he thought about it. We did end up convincing him, and he just stood up. It was a loud room at that point.”
One of the aspects he enjoyed most about the experience was the debating. Some of the topics the Youth Parliament discussed included investing in winter tourism, the number of women’s health clinics with the option of abortion that should be brought into the province, and bringing everything under the LGBTQ+ umbrella into the sex education curriculum.
Mr MacNeill has always looked at politics as an option in his career path. He’s thought about being a politician, ,either provincially or federally, but he’s also a very opinionated person.
“Part of me could see myself being a political commentator, and helping people understand what it is that’s going on to make it less confusing for some people,” he said. “Not everyone understands how everything works, or why something is important in government, so it’s important to have someone there that points out all those things and all those aspects and why things are important, what everything means.”
He said it’s important, especially now in the era of “fake news” for a person to make sure information is reliable, and to always look into what information is being told.
He knows some people aren’t into politics, which is one thing, but to try and ignore political issues is a big mistake and that it’s important for everyone to stay knowledgeable and stay involved some way.
This was the first time Mr MacNeill took part in the Youth Parliament. Because he’ll be graduating in the spring, he won’t have another chance to take part again, but said he recommends it to anyone who has even the slightest bit of interest in politics or debating.
When asked what he thought of the current political climate both on PEI and Canada as a whole, his answer was well thought out.
“I can say both for PEI and for Canada, I’m not necessarily the most trusting in the current government. I think some improvements are needed in a lot of different aspects, but I think overall we have an amazing government system that more times than others works out pretty well. I may not agree with everything our current leaders are doing but I definitely appreciate that we have the freedom to put them in and out.”
thats so cool maybe he will make a difference in our politics and always glad to see someone willing to step forward and have an idea as to what they may want to do in their lives.and his words were spot on maybe some folks here can learn from his words congrats to your little brother maybe be wiser then some older folks.
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