Eight Vanier College students got a taste of what life as an MNA is like at the National Assembly. Last week, they were among 148 students from colleges and cegeps across the province that participated in the 2019 Student Forum, an educational program designed to teach students about Quebec’s legislative process.
Workload and long hours politicians have to put in surprised 18-year-old Juan Bautista who learned a lot though from the simulation.
« We were there from 7 in the morning until 11 o’clock at night on most days. There is so much work. It’s crazy. It was something that I was not expecting, » says the first-year Social Sciences student.
The other Vanier students include Yasen Angiosov, Ara Karaboghossian, Mélissa Paradis, Agathe Plez, Andrew John Poynee, Naïmée Ramaglia and Geeta Tewari.
It’s the first year students from the Saint-Laurent english cegep have taken part.
The students were assigned different roles during the five day event – from minister to MNA to opposition leader to government whip. The young men and women presented and debated three bills, including a proposal to make all higher levels of education tuition-free in Quebec.
Some students even got the opportunity to be journalists.
« It was just like the real thing. They got to experience everything from start to finish, » says National Assembly communications officer Maryse Savard.
The sessions were presided by Marc Picard, Vice-President of the National Assembly. « It is definitely a unique event. It was interesting to hear them debate, » he says.
For Bautista, the experience has lit a fire inside him. The Saint-Hubert resident says he is encouraged to pursue politics.
« I would like to do this as a career, of course. It’s public service. I owe this to my country. I want to serve. This is very close to my heart, » he says.
The Student Forum has been held each year since 1992 during the legislature’s winter break. In that time, more than 3000 Quebec students have participated.