Explain that during the election, candidates compete to win. However, once candidates win, they now represent everyone in their riding as members of Parliament (MP). While they may still represent a political party, they must also take into account the needs of all of the citizens in their riding. Some MPs are appointed by the Prime Minister as members of the Cabinet. Cabinet members have a dual role: to be a minister and to be a MP in their riding.
As citizens, it is our responsibility to communicate our needs to our MP so that they can bring them forward, whether they are in government or opposition.
Lead your students through the following steps to create a Parliamentary wish list. For a printable activity sheet, click here.
- Ask students what federal issues they care about most. Have students individually list their top federal issues (3 to 5 issues). You may wish to review some of the issues discussed both in your region and nationally during the election to get them started. You may also read the Speech from the Throne to learn the government’s priorities.
- Invite students to work together in small groups to list the federal issues that they would like Parliament to prioritize for new legislation (3 to 5 priorities).
- Invite the small groups to share their ideas with the class. Write all of their ideas on the board or chart paper.
- Develop a “Class Parliamentary Wish List.” Work together to figure out the top issues (3 to 5 issues) as a class. Ranking activities can be an engaging way to practice consensus-building.
- Invite students to identify which items on the wish list will have a direct impact on your school’s riding, and which will affect the whole country and the world. You can use codes (L, N, or I) to identify the issues as local, national or international.
- Then ask students which issues are more important to your community?
- Have students write an email or letter to their new MP, and share the “Class Parliamentary Wish List.” The class could write one email as a group addressing their top concerns, or small groups could take responsibility for writing emails on individual items.
Note: If your students are at the secondary level, you could point out that they will likely be able to vote in the next election.
Optional Extension Activities
- Invite your new MP to the class.
- Have students ask them about the transition from election campaign to Parliament, such as: Do you know where you will live in Ottawa? How often do you expect to be in our riding? Are you nervous about the new role? How will you work with members of the other parties?
- Invite students to develop more questions based on the Class Parliamentary Wish List.
- If your MP is not available to come to your classroom, students could consider and discuss how the MP’s life might change as that person moves from a candidate to a member of Parliament.
- We recommend Setting the Agenda, a simulation activity that helps students understand the daily work of MPs and senators.