Democracy 250, the agency established to lead last year's celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of parliamentary democracy in Canada, released two reports today, May 7. The province also established a trust to continue efforts to encourage more young Nova Scotians to become active, engaged citizens who vote.
The first report, An Account of the Year Marking 250 Years of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada, provides an account of the hundreds of celebratory events and activities held throughout 2008 in recognition of the 250th anniversary of representative government in Nova Scotia.
The second report, Is Anybody Listening?, offers a number of recommendations for engaging more young Nova Scotians in the democratic process. The report examines the pros and cons of making citizenship modules mandatory in courses at various grade levels, and establishing a province-wide policy on political, non-partisan access to schools.
Former Democracy 250 co-chairs John Hamm and Russell MacLellan have agreed to be trustees of the Democracy 250 Youth Engagement Legacy Trust. The trust, estimated at $600,000 pending final reconciliation by the federal government, was established with the unspent portion of Democracy 250's 2008-09 budget. It has been created to support youth organizations and teacher and student-led initiatives that complement D250's youth engagement objectives.
"Democracy 250 not only engaged Nova Scotians and other Canadians in celebrating a proud first for our province, it raised awareness of the worrisome decline in youth voting," said Cecil Clarke, Minister of Justice. "I am pleased the former co-chairs have agreed to continue the important work Democracy 250 began in the area of youth engagement."
Dr. Hamm said: "Youth have consistently told us that they want to learn more about government and to have more opportunities to participate in the kind of programs D250 introduced in 2008. This trust will allow us to continue to support the students, teachers and youth organizations who have called for more initiatives consistent with D250's mandate."
Mr. MacLellan said: "The hundreds of young people we heard from during D250's youth town hall and Pizza and Politics sessions, expressed frustration that they know little about how the political, legislative and electoral processes works. Many told us this knowledge is critical to having more young people vote. The trust gives us an opportunity to reach out to more youth, and hopefully make more of them realize the importance of voting and the value of civic engagement."