Speaking in the House gives you public speaking skills. Plus adrenaline.
Your opinion matters. What you say matters. How you vote matters. Ontario Youth Parliament gives you a close-up experience with real democratic procedure. We're not talking about party campaigns or politicians' promises—we mean you, standing up for what you believe.
It sounds incredible because it is. During the weekend, all delegates participate in a youth parliament modelled on the Ontario Legislature. The Legislation Ministers of the Cabinet prepare bills that are presented, opposed, and then opened to the House for debate.
We're not going to be discussing dusty old politics terms, either. What we bring out at parliament matters—to youth—here and now. In the past couple of years, bills have covered topics such has electoral reform, collective bargaining rights, music piracy, drug usage and the influence of media on body image. OYP has been a thrumming forum for young peoples' opinions for decades: in 1975, OYP passed a bill advocating for environmental regulations; in 1984, delegates debated gay rights; in 1997, aboriginal autonomy.
The legislation at parliament will matter to you.
Furthermore, OYP is unique because it is a non-partisan model parliament. This means that each delegate has the freedom to express themselves without the constraints of official party lines. Even if you don't say anything, you will voice your opinion by voting on the bill at the end of the debate. Any legislation passed by the majority of delegates is sent on to the government in Toronto and Ottawa. We believe that politicians should hear what youth think about contemporary issues.
It's hard to express what it's like in the House. A dozen delegates jumping to their feet with a resounding "Mr. Speaker!" Fists pounding tables in approval. Your heart beating as you shout "Aye!" and hear your voice joined by others across the room. And when it's over, clapping the back of someone who opposed you in acknowledgement of a fair debate.
You're going to love it.