Two Tuesdays from now, on April 26th, students from all over the Waterloo Region will arrive on the steps of the Modern Languages building at the University of Waterloo, decked out in blazers and shiny shoes, ready to engage in friendly, vigorous debate about the future of our country.
The Federal-Provincial Conference Simulation, commonly known as Fed Prov, occurs annually. The simulation consists of delegations from various schools representing the provinces, territories, federal government, interest groups, and the press. Students within provinces and territories take on the roles of ministers, premiers, and the like, assuming the political views of the current parties in power.
According to the manual distributed to the members each year, Fed Prov has been running since the 1960s. WCI has always had a strong presence at Fed Prov; last year, the delegates represented three provinces and an interest group, while most schools only represented one.
Ollie D., the premier of Nova Scotia for this year’s Fed Prov, said, “In the past WCI has had very strong, successful delegations compared to some other schools and we anticipate it will be the same this year.”
WCI is sending two provinces, Nova Scotia and Manitoba, as well as a delegation representing the federal government to Fed Prov 2016. While the number of people involved has slightly dipped this year, to just over 40, this is most likely due to a decline in the school’s population overall.
The school is always quite influential within the conference, but Sarah M., the premier of Manitoba, argues that Fed Prov stands as a great opportunity to learn from other schools. “I personally think that our school always shines at Fed Prov seeing as we have so many bright, politically aware students who are keen negotiators and excellent public speakers,” she said. “That being said, though, each school bring[s] forth their own group of unique and talented people, making Fed Prov an ideal venue, not just to display our school’s own prowess, but also to appreciate that of other schools.”
All delegates must write position papers—a one page summary of their province’s stance on an issue as well as several proposals. Delegates read the position papers from other provinces to get a sense of who agrees or disagrees with their own proposals, which are later debated at the actual conference. On top of that, delegates must get to know their assigned issue very well in order to debate effectively.
Sarah M. said, “It is difficult to fully prepare for an event like Fed Prov in my opinion. A great deal of the conference has to do with one’s ability to speak publicly and one’s general knowledge about issues in Canadian politics.”
Not all schools run their Fed Prov delegations the same way. Some schools contain their delegations to a club. At WCI, Fed Prov is open to the participation of students from all grades. As well, several schools run elections for their minister positions, while WCI’s are typically appointed.
Many people agree that Fed Prov is always a positive learning experience. Ollie shared, “I think that it really helps younger students who don’t have a lot of experience in social science classes and want to learn more about them. Also, it gives people experience with debating and arguing with people in a more discussion-based, informal environment, which I also think is a really useful skill for someone pursuing a future in social sciences.”
Arjun P., the Prime Minister, confirmed Fed Prov’s advantages: “Living in Southwestern Ontario, we are often not exposed to the perspectives of the other provinces, and through this simulation, students can get a greater understanding of what it means to be Canadian, coast to coast.”
Arjun summed up his overall opinion: “Every single member of the team is hardworking, well-informed, and dedicated. It’s because of the strength of our delegation, and really, of all of WCI, in this event, that I am confident that this year’s Fed Prov will be great. WCI has a longstanding history of excelling in Fed Prov and I hope this year, we will continue to live up to our reputation.”