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New brand of politics

Future PM in waiting? Students at the Institute for Future Legislators at Ryerson learn how to do politics in a bold, new way
By: Suelan Toye
July 02, 2019
In the Parliament’s Senate chambers, Matthew Chisolm stands and speaks as other students, seated, listen

Matthew Chisholm, acting as the ‘Minister of Health’, addresses ‘members of Parliament’ in the Senate chambers on their final day of the Institute of Future Legislators at Ryerson program. Photo credit: John Beebe.

A legislative usher. A Ryerson philosophy student. A community organizer and activist. An executive. A nursing graduate. Over three weekends in May and June, more than 30 participants from all walks of life brought their passion for political change to the fore in the inaugural Institute for Future Legislators at Ryerson. The program was run by Ryerson’s Faculty of Arts in collaboration with University of British Columbia’s Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

Students spent two intense weekends at Ryerson honing their political skills and learning from notable practitioners with decades of political experience as well as in-depth knowledge of the media landscape. Instructors included Jean Augustine, the first African-Canadian woman elected to Parliament and Ryerson honorary degree recipient; former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne; and Martin Regg Cohn, a distinguished visiting professor and Toronto Star political columnist.

The participants learned how to build better relationships with constituents, how to be an effective communicator and how to engage in a lively debate during Question Period – all aspects of being a skilled legislator. They then put their knowledge to the test by holding a live mock simulation of a parliamentary session in the Parliament’s Senate chambers during their third and final session.

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