Two Gladstone students got to head to Ottawa, sit in the Parliamentary Gallery and witness their own special private member's bill read in Parliament. The Bill, titled, "An Act Respecting a National Strategy to Encourage the Development of Renewable Energy Sources" got rousing applause from MPs on all sides of the partisan fence.
Maria Gladkikh and Grihalakshmi (Lakshmi) Soundarapandian say they were blown away by the experience; one that had its genesis in an enriched socials studies class captained by Gladstone Department head Janet Thompson, who both administrators and the students credit as instrumental in their winning the honor.
It was in Thompson's class that Gladkikh and Soundarapandian first learned of the contest being promoted by their school's local MP Don Davies called "Create Your Canada". It was designed to engage educators and students across Davies riding by giving students a chance to brainstorm and develop their own Parliamentary Bills. The winning Bill writers would get an all-expenses paid trip to Ottawa and get a firsthand look at the inner-workings of Parliament Hill.
Gladkikh and Soundarapandian's Bill was inspired by the fact that all over the world pollution is a huge issue and kills an estimated 16,000 people per year. Particularly nasty to public health is air-related pollution caused by fossil fuel energy sources. The students felt better air was key and believed the federal government needed to take a lead to encourage provincial governments to institute tax breaks, fines and whatever else would work to help replace fossil fuel power sources with eco-friendly renewable power. It's something that apparently appealed to Davies and his parliamentary team.
A few months after winning the contest, the students boarded an Air Canada jet at YVR in late October and headed east for a whirlwind experience. The day after arriving, Davies read their Bill to Parliament. They were inspired to see firsthand all the House's MPs appreciate their Bill, but aghast by the rude behavior and name-calling they witnessed. Later in the visit, the students got to meet some of the youngest MPs elected and even got a wave and greeting from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Later that day they were taken out by Davies to the Parliamentary Restaurant. The big question that night was what to do with all the cutlery in each of their table settings.
The whole experience has only whet Gladkikh and Soundarapandian thirst to get more involved in elections and encourage their friends to get onboard as well.