Over the course of the last 3 days, we have had the privilege to meet and discuss with members from the Liberal, Progressive Conservative and New Democratic parties of Manitoba. During these lunchtime meetings, youth parliament members had the opportunity to pose questions relating to each party’s policies and political stances on environment, budgets and local issues. A common theme throughout the lunches was how each party planned on balancing social and economic deficits. The party representatives also shared their personal stories detailing how they got involved in politics, and their personal priorities and interactions with the public. The representatives also gave heartfelt advice to YPM members who expressed interest in pursuing political careers, even encouraging the members to volunteer for their local MLAs. This experience provided insight into how parties operate and how each member works within the party and in the community.
On Day 3 (or rather Night 3), a group of us young parliamentarians stretched our political involvement beyond the confines of the house. What was intended to be a quick, non-partisan, apolitical game of Settlers of Catan evolved into a heated political drama! The object of the game is to stretch your civilization across an island and gain control over its resources. Seven unassuming colours soon morphed into flags of Canada’s political parties. Green for the Greens, Blue for the Conservatives, Red for the Liberals, Orange for the New Democrats, Purple for People’s Party, brown for the Christian Heritage Party, and White representing the Bloc Québécois. Members, such as the red player, often represented parties with views contrary to their own. Every single move needed to be justified by a political rationale and each player filled the shoes of the party leader (often having fun with impersonations). As well as being a fun way to spend a Saturday, it was also an effective way to empathize with different perspectives. Every one of us went to sleep with a lasting memory of friendship, fraternity, and fundamental disagreements.