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Young people must stay engaged as we deal with societal shift: Sen. Harder

“One of the biggest challenges facing western liberal democracies is the disengagement of young people,” the Government Representative in the Senate told the Model Parliament of IPPSSA.

Western liberal democracies need to keep young people engaged as society grapples with challenges around climate change, technological advances and other major issues, Senator Peter Harder told a group of budding parliamentarians and public servants.

“One of the biggest challenges facing western liberal democracies is the disengagement of young people,” Sen. Harder told the Model Parliament of the University of Ottawa’s International, Policy and Political Studies Students Association (IPPSSA) on Jan. 26.

Sen. Harder, the Government Representative in the Senate, said that young persons can improve upon the work of the baby boom generation as they move into positions of increased influence.

Citing climate change, tax fairness, globalization and rapid technological change, Sen. Harder said, “baby boomers need to think about the public policy legacy of their generation. I hope you are less selfish than we have been and you ensure that Canada continues to be a shining example of a western liberal democracy.”

While describing his own career path leading from parliamentary intern, to Foreign Service officer, to political staffer, to deputy minister, and eventually, to Senator, Sen. Harder advised students to focus on the relationships that they create now. “Those relationships will help you harness the winds of life.”

He also encouraged young Canadians to consider public service as a career choice.

Public service is an immensely satisfying opportunity.

Sen. Harder also spoke to students about how the Senate is becoming more independent and transparent, and fulfilling the original intent set out for it as a chamber of sober second thought.

That role includes acting as a complementary body to the House of Commons, reviewing legislation, and amplifying the voice of minority groups that include the regions, language groups, gender and ethnicity.

He closed his remarks by encouraging students to get to know the world. “Study abroad and work abroad. In an interconnected world we need to bring Canada to the world and the world to Canada.”

IPPSSA’s Model Parliament debates, discusses and proposes pieces of legislation all of fictitious nature. A significant number of participants currently work for the public service as co-op students.

Young people must stay engaged as we deal with societal shift: Sen. Harder

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