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Youth Tuxis parliament program takes over Alberta legislature

Students took over the roles of parliament at the TUXIS program on Saturday, Dec. 28. 2019.
Students took over the roles of parliament at the TUXIS program on Saturday, Dec. 28. 2019. Global News

The house was in session at the Alberta legislature on Saturday, Dec. 28 — but with a twist.

The legislators debating were not elected officials but students participating in the youth TUXIS Parliament of Alberta program.

“We do our best to run a version of the legislature itself,” said Carly Russell, an Ambrose University student from Calgary who filled the role of premier.

“We go through a proper opening, we have our order papers, we pass different resolutions and bills to get things into play.”

The program allows students between the ages of 15 to 21 to participate, with issues often mirroring what actual parliament may be debating.

During this year’s session, the students will debate the climate emergency, electoral reform and health care.

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“That’s what’s been so prevalent in our media lately, and that’s what youth seem to have the most interest in,” Russell said.

READ MORE: Rally held at Alberta legislature against provincial cuts

“Tuxis is a bit of a hidden gem,” said Matthew Boonstra, a University of Alberta student who played the Opposition leader.

“Not a lot of youth know about it, but just to be here meeting other like-minded youth and debating based on how I feel, [I’ve grown] a large amount as a person and as a speaker and I would not have missed it for the world.”

READ MORE: B.C. youth parliament takes over at B.C. legislature over winter break

This year’s TUXIS six-day session wraps up Tuesday. Some Alberta MLAs also attended the sessions to help guide the youth.

“It’s not very often you get a chance to see so many young and eager potential legislators,” Spruce Grove-Stony Plain MLA Searle Turton said. “I’m excited… [to] hopefully try to inspire the next generations of leaders of tomorrow.”
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MLA Searle Turton mingles with TUXIS participant Matthew Boonstra.
MLA Searle Turton mingles with TUXIS participant Matthew Boonstra. Global News

Similar programs exist in B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Every second year, the four groups gather for a Western Canada session. That next session is set to take place in B.C. in 2020.