Local student Leader of Opposition

This is my second year as a member of British Columbia Youth Parliament (BCYP), and as the representative for Kamloops-North Thompson.

Members of the B.C. Youth Parliament (BCYP):  Rear row (l to r) Melinda Soles

Members of the B.C. Youth Parliament (BCYP): Rear row (l to r) Melinda Soles

This is my second year as a member of British Columbia Youth Parliament (BCYP), and as the representative for Kamloops-North Thompson.

Every year from December 27 to 31, approximately 95 members between the ages of 16 to 22 years, from all over British Columbia represent their constituencies at the provincial legislature in Victoria.

This year I had the honour of being on Shadow Cabinet as the Critic of the Interior and, of Community Fundraising. Having these two positions under this year’s Leader of the Opposition, Josh Hall, was an honour and an experience I will never forget.

At session, we picked apart the legislation that serves as the guidelines our organization will be governed by for the year. We also debated the clauses that outline Camp Phoenix. Camp is BCYP’s biggest service project, and is run for 50 children in B.C. that, due to financial or mental issues, would not be able to attend a summer camp.

Many Private Members Resolutions (PMR) were presented that week, but only a handful were debated due to the incredible amount of legislation that had to be covered beforehand. Some of these PMR’s included:

1. In Support of the Legalization of Marijuana (carried)

2. In Support of Oil Tanker Traffic Along B.C. Coasts (carried)

3. In Support of the Freedom to Text During Class Time (defeated)

4. In Support of Expanding the Mandate of the B.C. Climate Change Secretariat to Include Social Justice (carried)

5. In Support of Mandatory Voting in Municipal Elections (defeated)

I had the chance to write my own PMR, “In Opposition to the Use of Video Conferencing in Rural Secondary Schools”. My primary purpose for my PMR was simply to inform the other members, especially ones from the Island and Lower Mainland, that this form of teaching exists. The exciting debate lasted 35 minutes, with both sides of the argument well presented by the members before I did the closing statements and the motion was called for question. Despite the passionate debate from both sides, my PMR was carried, and the views of the members of the 82nd BCYP will be communicated by our Provincial Secretary to the Minister of Education and the Premier of B.C.

Members of the House have the opportunity to run for House Leader positions: Premier, Leader of the Opposition, and Deputy Speaker. For the first time in over a decade, there were more than two candidates for the Leader of the Opposition (LofO) position; there were four.

The candidates’ speeches were well-spoken, and all did an outstanding job of relaying to the members why they would make an exceptional LofO. The candidates were Melinda Soles, a third year member from Clearwater, Ryan Wei of New Westminster – a first year, Hwan Jeon of Surrey – also a first year, and myselfm – a second year BCYP member.

Votes were tallied, and Ryan and I had nearly split the House into an even 50 per cent vote. He will be the LofO for the 83rd BCYP, and since he is a first-year member, he has asked me to be his Deputy LofO, as well as his mentor.

I know it will be an honour working alongside him, and despite our fairly low experience level as a team, we have both sworn to the organization that we will take the year we have to prepare, and ensure that we will be just as successful as a fifth or sixth year House Leader.

I was informed at session that Kamloops will be hosting a regional youth parliament (RYP) this year; something that has been on hiatus for quite some time. The Premier will be Michael McDonald of Kelowna, and I will be the Leader of the Opposition.

Michael and I were both first year BCYP members last year, and this year we were both Shadow Cabinet critics.

We are going to do our best to find members from the Interior, since recruiting has been a tough job causing the common cancellation of this RYP. We are aiming to have at least 40 members.

This does not require members to be well-versed in politics, but whom are interested in community service…and excellent points on a resume or post-secondary application. Members must be between the ages of 14 to 18 by the date of our regional youth parliament, the first weekend of March.

Being a member of BCYP has proven to be rewarding and unforgettable. I recommend anyone looking for ways to serve their school, community and province to apply for BCYP’s session this coming December.

If you have any enquiries about the organization, please do not hesitate to contact me, or visit www.bcyp.org, where you can get in touch with our current Premier Karen Ratchford, Leader of the Opposition Josh Hall, or any members of our Senate.

I would like to extend a special thank you to the District of Barriere Council for sponsoring my trip and representation at BCYP.

I am definitely looking forward to my leadership positions this coming year.

* Karina Pelayo is a resident of McLure and is a student at Barriere Secondary School.