Find out more. Do more. Stay connected.

About us What we do Working Groups Media RESSOURCES Members
CCIC Publications


More than a Free Trip

by Kerry Campbell, National Youth Forum participant.
Article from au courant (August 1999), a CCIC publication.

Creating new opportunities for citizen participation is one of the ten points of the agenda of the in common campaign. As part of CCIC’s pilot project on public deliberation (see May 1999 Au Courant), a National Youth Forum on Globalization and the Future of Work was held in Ottawa from May 27-29, 1999. Thirty-one young people from across Canada, ranging in age from 16 to 28, attended the forum. Most had participated in one of more than 30 community deliberations in Cape Breton, Manitoba (Winnipeg and Brandon), and the Montreal area that were organized as part of the pilot project.

Kerry Campbell, a freelance writer in Brandon, Manitoba had attended one of the community deliberations and was selected to attend the National Youth Forum. In this article, he describes his impressions of the forum.

I’ll be honest. The real reason I was in Ottawa from May 27-29 was not to attend the CCIC National Youth Forum on globalization. Sure I was interested in the topic of globalization. I was also keenly interested in the machinations of government, and the empowerment of citizens and their participation in the political process. But if you’d have offered me a free trip to Reston, Manitoba, to attend the same forum, I very well might have passed it up. Which would have been a shame, because the forum turned out to be much, much more than just a free ride to Ottawa.

To be honest again, I was surprised that I had been selected to participate. Three of us from Brandon had been selected: myself, Tammy McKinnon, and Amanda Skrumeda. Tammy I knew from when we were in grade school. We were both in our late twenties, and both did work in Brandon in the publishing field, and so were fairly well acquainted.

Amanda was unknown to both of us. She was still in high school, and was the kind of person I expected everyone else on the trip would be, what I consider to be a "keener." She was involved with a number of youth movements. She plans to work in environmental studies or conservation or something. I recently read in the paper that she was selected to represent Manitoba at some tree-planting hoe-down in Nunavut. Amanda is a doer. I’m a thinker who rarely gets around to doing much about the ideas he has. I was surprised that someone was willing to fly me all the way to Ottawa and back, put me up and feed me for three days, just to hear my opinion. No one had ever done that before. I still hadn’t decided exactly what my opinion was, but I was determined to let them hear it once I had figured it out. It would be the least I could do.

Skip to the first morning of the event itself. Curt Shoultz of the Marquis Project, was running us through "Titanic evacuation drills," organizing us into smaller groups and getting us to open up and talk a little about ourselves. He was trying, I assumed, to make us feel more comfortable.

I don’t remember exactly what I said when my turn to speak came, but it wasn’t "I’m here because I really wanted the free trip to Ottawa." It was something about Canada being in a position to become a leader in issues related to globalization– the same thing I had put on my application. Sure, I believed it, and I believe it even more now. But my motives were questionable.

Everyone else in our circle had his or her answers ready. Some cited experience working with NGOs. They were keeners, all right. Just what in the world was an NGO, anyway? I wouldn’t get up the nerve to ask until Sunday, after the conference.

After the introductions, we got down to work. Our first task of the day: to lay the groundwork for the ensuing deliberation by reviewing the common ground and values that had emerged from the community deliberations in Cape Breton, Manitoba and Quebec. Here finally was familiar and comfortable territory. I could identify logical problems within our system of values. I raised my hand. I reported my findings. I was hooked. As those who were sequestered with me during the remainder of the deliberations may tell you, I didn’t stop talking for three days.

We heard from a panel of three speakers– Ken Luckhardt of the Canadian Autoworkers’ Social Justice Fund, David Stewart-Patterson of the Business Council for National Issues, and Sally Lerner of the University of Waterloo. Each made the case for one of the three choices outlined in the deliberation guide regarding how Canada should deal with the impacts of globalization on the world of work. Then we plunged into the deliberations, trying to cover as many angles of globalization as possible in the time allotted to us. Should we focus on ensuring good jobs and good working conditions, put priority on strengthening our competitive advantage, or focus on environmental sustainability? A week-long session of deliberations would probably not have been too long to discuss everything.

"Deliberative dialogue" provided for a friendly and informative discussion; I found, as the discussions continued, that I was learning as much about the others attending the forum as I was about globalization. And I was finding it heartening to meet a group of young Canadians who shared the same concerns as I did.

Which is not to say that we found a lot of common ground during our discussions. We were, surprisingly, able to delve fairly deeply into our areas of concern during the time allotted. Issues such as poverty, labour, education and the environment branched out into further and further subsets of issues as we identified more concerns and potential areas of disagreement.

Our group did find common ground on two key issues: education and the environment. Regarding education, we felt it was a time for our government to be making post-secondary education more accessible, not less so. And as for the environment, we felt there were no options: the collapse of Canadian fisheries had shown us that sustainable development was the only way to ensure a future for the world’s youth—including us—and for the generations to come

On the afternoon of the second day, all 31 of us took these concerns to Parliament Hill, where we presented them to MPs Stéphan Tremblay and Keith Martin , Senator Landon Pearson, and Senator Sister Peggy Butts. We were taken aback when this panel basically told us that the environment had fallen off the political agenda. Part of our presentation had dealt with the gulf we saw between government and the governed, and we felt that gulf growing during the meeting.

All that remained for us to do on the final day of the conference was to present our findings to those attending the CCIC Annual General Meeting. As we were wrapping things up on the Saturday afternoon, I realized what a huge success the forum had been. It was probably one of the most stimulating and enlightening events I had ever attended. Finally, I could hold it in no longer. My judgement was a little clouded by the euphoria that usually sets in after an event like this.

Confession time. "I’d like to make a confession. I came here because I wanted a free trip to Ottawa. I’ve hardly seen Ottawa. I got a lot more out of this than I’d anticipated."

Shouts of agreement came from all over the room. Almost everyone had come for the free trip. And we’d all got so much more out of it. I looked around the room, and saw no keeners, as I had that first day. I saw only my fellow youths. Or maybe I myself had become a keener; either way, it appeared I wasn’t alone, after all.

Kerry Campbell


  • Employment
  • 10-point agenda
  • Istanbul Principles
  • Code of Ethics
  • Become a Member
  • Who's who
  • CCIC Publications
  • Employment