Diya with Durham MPP Todd McCarthy. Images courtesy Diya G. Nathan

Ontario Page Program – A Clarington student’s experience

Diya Gokul Nathan is an 8th grader at Harold Longworth Public School in Bowmanville, Clarington.

In September 2023, she applied for and got selected for the 2024 spring session in the Page Program at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It’s a competitive program that gives students an in-person, inside look at how the government works. Hundreds of Grade 7 and 8 students apply every year, trying to get into the fall or spring sessions, but only a few get selected. To apply, one would be required to have an academic average of 80 per cent, and should have demonstrated leadership and community involvement.

This is Diya’s story in her own words.

“I would like to share my experience and learnings during my term of duty.

Being a Page for two weeks, I have learned a lot about the legislative processes. It is a wonderful opportunity to see in person the processes involved in bringing up a Bill, Motion, or Petition and the heated debates of MPPs while expressing their opinion during the question period.

Sessions are well organized into different categories starting from Prayers/Speaker’s Procession, Orders of the day, Member Statements, Deferred
votes, etc.

Any law before being implemented goes through rigorous discussions, listening to statements from committees, and different voting stages. Also, MPPs extend special invites to their riding’s, community involving individuals and organization representatives to acknowledge their contributions.

I had a lot of fun meeting other Pages, who were really outgoing and friendly. Our Page Coordinators, Mr. Franco Gutierrez (Mr. G), and Mrs. Paula, are very supportive and patient. No matter what questions we have, concerns, or just want to talk, they will always talk to you back with the same interest and passion. They are one of the biggest reasons why this experience is going to be something I’m going to remember forever.

I also had many different experiences being in the Page Program. One of the requirements before my term of duty was to know all 124 MPPs first and last names, faces, ministries, and seating plan. It was definitely a tough process trying to memorize all of their names, but this taught me to trust my study plan and stay determined.

Ontario spring page program team

Also, I had to wake up at 5 am every day for two weeks, which was challenging as I had never woken up this early before. The program is mildly strict as well. All Pages are required to change into their uniforms and assemble into class by 8:15 am. If we were late to class, we would get fined for a dollar.

Every morning, we have a briefing where Mr. G would tell us the schedule for the Legislative Assembly, and immediately go into the chamber. I saw every MPP sitting in the chamber waiting for the session to start. I even saw Premier Doug Ford there! Experiencing all of this is something I’m never going to forget.

Over the two weeks, I had the opportunity to be a Page Captain, demonstrate leadership, and suggest improvements. I also learned from other Pages when they were captains. This experience taught me how to behave professionally and work as a team.

I’ve also met many honorable people such as the Speaker, Lieutenant Governor, Sergeant-At-Arms, my MPP: Todd McCarthy, and the Head Clerk. Everybody was so friendly and eager to answer any questions we had and even hoped that one day, we might become MPPs and work alongside them.

I was surrounded by incredible people, learned so many new things, and have a bigger understanding and appreciation for the people who try to make Ontario better everyday. At the end of the Page Program, I honestly wished that my term of duty was longer!”

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