Provincial politicians have left their legislative seats vacant over the holiday season, but more than 90 youth are happy to keep them warm.
Young people from across British Columbia are gathering at the legislature this week for the annual B.C. Youth Parliament session. Representatives are nominated by community organizations and can debate and vote according to their consciences.
Meet your premier
University of Victoria political science student Sky Losier is this session's premier and spoke with Early Edition guest host Michelle Eliot about the role of youth parliament and the hot topics in the house this year.
"Many people often mislabel us as a mock parliament, when we are not," said Losier. "Our legislation has real impact in the communities in which our members serve."
Losier said legislation passed by youth parliament has enabled youth to carry out programming initiatives. These include sending representatives into B.C. high schools to teach the Westminster parliamentary system.
"Most model parliaments meet during the holidays and then go home, but our projects carry on over the course of the next 12 months," Losier said.
This year, a key issue on the table is the controversial Site C dam project.
Losier said a lively debate is expected and if the house votes against Site C then that legislation will be forwarded to the provincial government to reflect youth perspectives.
Representatives will also be discussing the pending referendum on B.C.'s electoral system.
- B.C. government to go ahead with Site C hydroelectric dam project
- NDP announces B.C. referendum on proportional representation
Losier is encouraging his fellow parliamentarians to spread the word about the importance of voting on electoral reform.
"Everyone should get out and vote," said Loisier, "Regardless of whether you want a referendum or not."
Losier said this year's election was fascinating to watch.
"All we can remember in our politically-active life is a B.C. Liberal majority government," Losier said. "So it's quite an interesting thing to see for young folks who haven't seen anything else."
The first B.C. Youth Parliament was held in 1924. The 2017 session ends Dec. 31.
With files from The Early Edition
To hear the complete interview, click on the audio link below: