A Kamloops student will be bringing his passion for politics to Parliament Hill this fall, having been selected as one of 40 youths to take on a one-year term working as a House of Commons page.
Jacob Wilson, an 18-year-old South Kamloops secondary student, said he is excited for the “life-changing opportunity” to work in the chamber and around Parliament Hill.
Wilson said he learned he was accepted to the prestigious program at the beginning of April.
“It was just amazing,” Wilson said, adding he was at school at SKSS when he received a call from an unknown number delivering the good news.
“The interview had gone pretty well. I'd heard from one of my references that they'd been contacted. So I was like, that's probably a good sign. … I was surprised, kind of, but at the same time, not really.”
Wilson — who is a member of the City of Kamloops’ junior council and has worked on past political campaigns — said he always thought he would go to university for something relating to politics or international affairs.
He said he was looking into post-secondary options back in the fall when his dad mentioned the House of Commons page program.
“I realized that it seemed like something I'd be really into," Wilson said.
"I realized that it would be something amazing, a life-changing opportunity, to be able to work in the House of Commons."
According to the House of Commons’ website, 40 first-year university students are chosen annually to work part-time as pages for one year.
Pages are non-partisan employees who help provide services to all Members of Parliament, and are one of the few people allowed on the House of Commons floor during a sitting besides the MP’s themselves.
Wilson said pages work under the Speaker of the House of Commons, and are responsible for handling any of the speaker’s requests.
He said pages will often pass notes for MPs, and then will collect and deliver them to individuals who record what happens after each sitting.
In order to be considered for the program, Wilson said he applied to Carleton University, as applicants need to attend one of the four universities in Ottawa. He said prospective House of Commons pages also need to be bilingual.
Wilson said he then submitted a cover letter, resume and a letter of reference, and took a test which asked basic questions about how government works and which people occupy certain positions.
He said he also had to complete an interview focusing on behaviour — what he might do in certain situations.
Wilson said training for the page program will kick off in the last week of August, and the work begins in September — but not before he must pass another test.
According to Wilson, at the end of training he will be tested on his ability to recognize each MP — all 338 of them — by party, name and riding.
“You have to get like 95 per cent on the test,” he said, adding he’s been advised he should already be studying.
Wilson said he would recommend anyone interested in politics or attending post-secondary school in Ottawa to look into the page program.
“I was reading up on past pages, and some of them weren't even directly taking politics in university. I remember watching their swearing in a few years ago, and some were doing nursing, science. So you can really be interested in anything,” Wilson said.
“If you're thinking of going to university in Ottawa, or you don't want to stay around here and you just have an interest in politics, or even just feel like it's it would be a cool opportunity, I think people should take it.”
Not only was Wilson accepted to the House of Commons page program, he said he will also be studying public affairs and policy management at Carleton come September.
He said the program encompasses political science, law, history and economics.
“Most people end up in the government in some capacity,” Wilson said.
“The program itself has seven different specializations, I believe. So you can find your niche.”
He said in the future, he would like to work in public service — possibly as a diplomat with Global Affairs Canada, or in the intelligence realm.
"Possibly in the future [I will] become an MP. It would be cool to be in the house, but I think at some point in the future,” Wilson said.
“I don't know from there, maybe Prime Minister — but I doubt it. There’s always a chance."