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Democracy in the Classroom: A Parliamentary Committee Simulation

Step Three: Introducing the Simulation to Students

(Suggested time — 20 minutes)

Explain to students that they are about to participate in a simulation that focuses on an important part of the process of the passage of legislation — committee stage. Ensure that students have a general understanding of the structure of Parliament and the passage of legislation by involving them in one or more of the following activities:

Read about committees: Discuss the role of parliamentary committees using the information found in The House of Commons Practical Guide to Committees, Fundamentals of Senate Committees, On the job with a Member of Parliament and On the job with a Senator.

Watch parliamentary committees in action: Show students a video clip of a parliamentary committee at work. These clips are available on the ParlVU and CPAC websites. Elicit from students their view of the nature of the work depicted in the clip, as well as the role the committee is playing.

Extension: Discuss various terms related to the Canadian parliamentary system in sentences. Invite students to work with a partner to recall or infer the meaning of the terms. After attempting to explain the terms themselves, encourage students to consult the glossary to confirm their definitions. Discuss the key terms.

Getting students into role

(Suggested time — 30 minutes)

Explain that all students have important work to do in order to "get inside" their roles and to understand the issues. Organize students in pairs or groups based on their role in the simulation. Cut out the role cards. Distribute the appropriate role card to every student. Direct them to read about their role, and then turn to a fellow student and explain their role in their own words. Encourage students to ask any questions they might have.

Indicate to students that they will use their own names for the simulation, but remind them to speak and act from the perspective of the individual described in the role card. Political party names are not specified in this simulation, but you may choose to use made-up party names for the Government, Official Opposition and Other Opposition parties. Ask students to make a sign that will sit in front of them at their table during the simulation. The sign should include their name and title.

Distribute the following student handouts to each student, and allow them to work through the bill using the handouts provided to guide their preparation for the simulation. The work required of each student is dependent on their role in the simulation and is easily guided by the questions on the handouts. Where applicable, encourage students to work with other students who share a similar role. Circulate during this process, providing support to students in completing their preparation work.

Role Handouts—general Modified
Minister and witnesses Preparing your Role
Presenting to the Committee
Minister and Witness Material
Preparing your Role
Presenting to the Committee
Chair Preparing your Role
Chair Instructions
Preparing your Role
Clerk Preparing your Role
Clerk Instructions
Preparing your Role
Committee members Preparing your Role
Amendment proposal form
Preparing your Role
Members of the press gallery Preparing a Media report Preparing a Media report

Simulation Setup Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5 Step 6 Step 7