A Meadowridge School grad will be representing the community on Parliament Hill.
Sean Butler is one of 40 applicants who has been accepted into the Page Program in the House of Commons.
Starting Aug. 25, Butler, 17, will be working with MPs on all sides of the room in the historical building home to the House of Commons, the Senate and the Library of Parliament.
Butler’s duties as a page will include: performing tasks directly related to the sittings of the House; working with Members of Parliament in a non-partisan role; assisting in state visits and official events; experiencing debates live in the Chamber; meeting with student groups; learning about Canada’s parliamentary system; serving as a link between members and administrative staff; and participating in the Speaker’s parade.
Butler says his life goal is to get into politics or law.
He was in French immersion from Grade 1 to Grade 8 and even went on an exchange to a small town in France for one month. So, he knew that he wanted to continue his post-secondary education, “maintaining our other first language.”
He has also been involved with the Model United Nations since Grade 9.
Butler started the application process for the program in October.
“I found that the Page Program really suited me best in the sense that I was able to continue my French, be exposed to even more French, especially being in Ottawa and just experience something that is once in a lifetime,” said Butler from his home in Maple Ridge.
First, Butler had to provide a transcript of his marks and a two page “curriculum vitae” outlining his education, employment history, extracurricular activities, volunteer work and interests. Then, the applicant pool was narrowed and Butler had to do a second language test in French. Finally, he was interviewed where he fielded questions directly about Parliament like how many seats are there, who is the leader of the Opposition, and who is the speaker of the House. He also had to answer questions about how he is planning to manage his time going to school and his hours as a page. Pages are required to work a minimum of 15 hours per week.
Butler will be working five shifts, three days a week, all while attending classes at the University of Ottawa for the six-year Bachelor of Commerce and Juris Doctor Program.
“I’ve only ever been to Ottawa twice. I’ve never truly experienced the federal Parliament and what goes on in there,” said Butler adding that especially coming up to the next federal election in October, it will be great experience to learn about the political system.
Pages are paid $16,587 over a 12-month period and an additional $1,200 is paid to each page at the end of the employment period for the successful completion of the contract.
Pages have a long history in the House of Commons. They first began working in the early years of Confederation. However, the program that exists today was introduced in 1978 by then Speaker of the House, the Hon. James A. Jerome.
Butler leaves on Aug. 21 for Ottawa and will be there until June 2020.
“For me, it’s just crazy because you just think that’s where our nation was built,” said Butler.
“I think about the decisions that have been made in there, especially during the October 1970 crisis … with Pierre Trudeau and all different major country-changing decisions that people made in there,” he said about his amazement when he visits historical places.
“I’m like wow, somebody once stood here, somebody that I read about in my history books once stood exactly where I am,” he said.
Butler is most excited about being able to witness firsthand the happenings of Parliament.
But he also excited about making lasting connections with others who share the same interests as himself.