BC student went to Ottawa to work in the House of Commons

A student from Kamloops will bring his passion for politics to Parliament Hill this fall, having been selected as one of 40 young people to work for a year as a House of Commons page.

A student from Kamloops will bring his passion for politics to Parliament Hill this fall, having been selected as one of 40 young people to work for a year as a House of Commons page.

Jacob Wilson, an 18-year-old high school student from South Kamloops, said he is excited about the “life-changing opportunity” of working in the room and around Parliament Hill.

Wilson said he learned in early April that he had been accepted into the prestigious program.

“It was just amazing,” Wilson said, adding that he was in school at SKSS when he got a call from an unknown number with the good news.

“The conversation went fairly well. I had heard from one of my references that they had been contacted. So I thought that’s probably a good sign. … I was surprised, a little, but not really at the same time.”

Wilson – who is a member of the Junior Council of the City of Kamloops and has served on political campaigns in the past – said he always thought he would go to university for something to do with politics or international affairs.

He said he was looking at post-secondary options in the fall when his father mentioned the House of Commons page program.

“I realized it looked like something I’d really like to do,” Wilson said.

“I realized it would be a great thing, a life-changing opportunity to work in the House of Commons.”

According to the House of Commons website, 40 freshmen college students are elected each year to work part-time as Pages for a year.

Pages are impartial employees who help provide services to all MPs, and are one of the few people allowed to sit next to the MPs themselves on the floor of the House of Commons during a meeting.

Wilson said Pages work under the Speaker of the House of Commons and are responsible for handling the speaker’s requests.

He said Pages often pass notes on to MPs, then collect them and deliver them to individuals who record what happens after each meeting.

To be eligible for the program, Wilson said he has applied to Carleton University because candidates must attend one of four universities in Ottawa. He said future pages of the House of Commons should also be bilingual.

Wilson said he then submitted a cover letter, resume, and reference letter, and took a test that asked basic questions about how government works and which people hold certain positions.

He said he also had to do an interview focused on behavior — what he might do in certain situations.

Wilson said training for the page program will begin in the last week of August and work will begin in September — but not before he has to pass another test.

Wilson says he will be tested at the end of training for his ability to recognize each MP – all 338 – by party, name and drive.

“You have to get 95 percent on the test,” he said, adding that he had been advised that he should already be studying.

Wilson said he would recommend anyone interested in politics or attending a post-secondary school in Ottawa to look at the page program.

“I read through earlier pages, and some of them weren’t even directly involved with university politics. I remember a few years ago how they used to swear, and some of them did nursing, science. So you can really be interested in anything,” Wilson said.

“If you’re thinking about going to college in Ottawa, or you don’t want to stay here and you’re just interested in politics, or even feel like it would be a fun opportunity, I think people will. “

Not only was Wilson admitted to the House of Commons page program, he said he will also study public affairs and policy management at Carleton in September.

He said the program includes political science, law, history and economics.

“Most people end up in government one way or another,” Wilson said.

“I think the program itself has seven different specialisations. That’s how you find your niche.”

He said he would like to work in public service in the future — possibly as a diplomat in Global Affairs Canada, or in the intelligence community.

“Possibly in the future [I will] become a member of parliament. It would be cool to be in the house, but I think at some point in the future,” Wilson said.

“From there I don’t know, maybe Prime Minister, but I doubt it. There’s always a chance.”

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