Nathan Cullen talking about the Create Your Canada contest. Cassidy Muir photo

MP gives Northwest chance to ‘Create Your Canada’

The contest offers the chance for someone in the Northwest to help try make a law.

By Cassidy Muir

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen held a public forum May 17 at the Smithers Art Gallery to discuss the ongoing Create Your Canada contest.

The contest offers the chance for someone in the Northwest to submit their idea for a Private Member’s bill, which Cullen will present in Ottawa on their behalf.

“To apply to this contest, which is what this is, you only have to come up with an idea,” Cullen said. “You don’t have to specifically know all the details of your idea. It’s mostly just a concept. Something you think would make the Northwest — Canada broadly, maybe — better, however you define better.”

Submissions will be open until June 29, after which a winner will be chosen by a committee of volunteers. The winning idea will be drafted into a bill, which Cullen will introduce to the House of Commons in the fall for debate and a vote.

“It’s about bringing forward ideas from people in the Northwest about different laws, different initiatives that we can do in Canada, in the Parliament,” Cullen explains.

Originally a contest meant for high school students, Create Your Canada has expanded to include anyone with an idea for improving legislature.

“It’s open to anybody who lives in the region, and there are two specific guidelines we can’t break with whatever your idea is,” said Cullen. “One is that the bill I introduce can’t be unconstitutional. Second, it is under the parliamentary rules that private members of the bill can’t spend money, or can’t force the government to spend money.”

The winner will be flown to Ontario to watch the presentation of the bill.

“I remember flying these young people to Ottawa,” Cullen said, recalling the original contest. “The experience for them to just watch their idea suddenly become a law, an official piece of paper, and then see a vote in Parliament, that process was very powerful because it’s a very validating thing.”

Those attending the forum were encouraged to discuss their own ideas. Some of the topics suggested related to food security, the role of locals in resource management, and safe homes for underprivileged youths.

Anyone with an idea is encouraged to submit it for consideration.

“If this goes well, if this catches some media and seems to be popular, I could imagine in future parliaments this becoming a very standard way to introduce Private Member’s bills,” Cullen said.

For more information, visit nathancullen.ndp.ca/createyourcanada, or phone 1-888-622-0212.

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