Thursday afternoon we had the opportunity to once again sit in the public gallery to watch the House of Commons question period. I’m glad we went since the Prime Minister was present and we got to hear Elizabeth May ask a question (which, when you are not an official party, is a pretty big deal). It was interesting to compare question period in the House of Commons to the one at Queen’s Park. The level of heckling was the major difference I noticed when we were there. The House of Commons seemed to be quieter when we were there, however this may be due to the fact that we were listening to the recording on the hearing devices and not paying attention to the wider range of noises. While the House of Commons is a very historic place and quite interesting, I prefer the chamber at Queen’s Park. The public gallery is optimally placed so the public can see everything that is going on, in Ottawa that is not the case.
We then met with Nycole Turmel, Whip for the NDP and former interim Leader. We asked her about the transition between Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair, what it was like to be the leader of such a diverse caucus, among other issues. It was great to be able to meet with her and gain her insight in Canadian politics.
Later in the afternoon we met with Niki Ashton, NDP MP for Churchill, Manitoba. We had a very interesting discussion with Ms. Ashton surrounding women’s participation in politics, constituency and representation issues. Having been to her riding for the U2011 – Understanding the 2011 Manitoba Election series – I had the opportunity to get a glimpse of what issues face residents in Northern Manitoba. It was interesting to learn how a non-government MP advocates for their constituents in remote, northern communities. I really appreciated connecting with a fellow Manitoban.
We’ve had some really great meetings this week and we have learned a lot about the inner workings of the federal system. It was a shame there was only one day left!