Port Colborne student gets a peek into politics

Port Colborne’s Allan Buri recently returned from an amazing experience that he recommends all school students his age should investigate. He took park in the Legislative Page Program at Queen’s Park.

It was an experience he never wants to forget. Allan Buri of Port Colborne recently completed a five week term serving in the Legislative Page Program at Queen’s Park.

The 13 year-old grade eight student from St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School is still smiling, treasuring the connections he made.

Photo of Allan Buri with the Seargeant-at-Arms. Photo supplied

“It was awesome,” Allan Buri said. “It was all so very cool. I really don’t have any one highlight, there were so many, we got to meet (Premier) Kathleen Wynne and the Lt. Governor of Ontario The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, we met the Seargeant at Arms.”

“We also got to witness some cool things, like being there for the process and hearing the new minimum wage being passed and the debates over the recent college strike,” he said.

Buri is interested in politics himself and heard about the program through other kids from their school who had participated in the past.

“Two other kids from our school have gone in the past,” he said. “I’m really into politics and thought this would be a great learning experience.”

“I just went ahead and applied, I didn’t think I was going to make it in, then, they called and said I got in,” he said. “I was so excited to be selected and to go.”

The page’s role is an important one in the Legislative Assembly.

“Most people think it’s just a program, but, they are really responsible for important things,” he said. “For example there are the Hansard Scripts, where everything is recorded that happens there, we have to collect them and take them back to the office, then out to the MPPs.”

“We have to collect all the house documents and take them to the Whitney Block. Between all the MPPs we have to do inter assembly transactions,” he said. “It’s interesting, some of the MPPs have aids that help them, but, they can’t go on the floor so the pages need to bring the messages to them.”

Each five week term, 20 students are selected to participate, about 140 serve over the year.

Students selected for the program stay in Toronto for their five week term. They still have to do homework under the Page Program Coordinator.

There was a room that they studied in and where they could socialize with each other.

“When we aren’t working, the other kids, well, they were really fun. We still had to do math and stuff, but, we would just kind of hang out, I made a lot of really good friends that I still keep in touch with. A couple of days ago I just went to one of my new friend’s places for a visit.”

To apply for the program you need to visit the Legislative Page Program website (http://discoveryportal.ontla.on.ca/en/youth-programs/page-program/about-program ) and begin the application.

Applicants need to write a 500 word essay on why you would be a good page.

“So they wanted to know about community involvement, what you do that makes you a good member of your community,” Buri said.

Allan Buri looking at a photo of Pages from the late 1800s. Photo supplied

For Buri, his own community involvement credentials are quite good. His experiences range from participating in sports to helping out as a senator on his school council and taking part in the Port Colborne Operatic Society.

Students applying also need to have at least an 80% average in school.

Once you apply you have to learn the names of every MPP in the Legislature, their parties, where they sat in the house.

“We had to learn the names of all the members of the house, their parties, where they sit, their face. It was really hard, it’s a lot to memorize,” Buri said. “You take a test your second day there, if you don’t get 80%, you get a second chance, if you don’t get 80%, you can’t be a page.”

To anyone who is thinking about doing this and not sure, Buri says “Go for it.”

“Because it is just an amazing experience, especially when you are from Port Colborne, it’s a little small community,” he said. “To get out to the big city, to get to meet people from all different areas of the province and different points of living, different religions, it’s really cool. It really opens your eyes.”

“You get to hob-nob with politicians and you get to see their personal side more than just their political side that you see in the news,” he said.

“It was just such an amazing experience for any young person that is interested in seeing how government works,” Buri’s grandmother Linda Saxon said.

“Even if you aren’t interested in politics, some of the kids when I was there weren’t, but, they still had an amazing experience,” Allan Buri said.



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