On Tuesday April 21 2015, New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo told the Canadian press that she was “shocked” to learn that UCC, “one of the most elite and expensive private schools,” hosted a Model Parliament at Queens park on the days of April 8th and 9th. She also added that the Legislature told her Upper Canada College has been hosting the event for 30 years. DiNovo called for an end to the “elitist” tradition at Queens Park saying that it was an unfair reflection of democracy for one school to be the only one allowed to host such an event. Additionally the member from Parkdale—High Park, claimed UCC vetted schools that wished to participate, calling UCC the “gatekeeper”. Soon after, news outlets including the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post and the CBC caught the story and published, in some cases, a very one-sided point of view on the issue.
Ontario Model Parliament is a student run event in which students from across Ontario are able to debate in the very seats of their real life counterpart. For 30 years it has been an enriching opportunity for high schools students to become engaged in provincial politics. Previous speakers at OMP include: Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Hon. Lieutenant Governor. Members of the executive team are: Aleksei Wan, James Coady, Matthew Jagdeo, Miles Hoaken, Javid Karim, Nikhil Kassum, Shakir Lakhani and Kinton Cheung, with Mr. Griem as the advisor.
The Ontario Model Parliament executive responded swiftly upon getting wind of these comments. We were quick to point out the troubling inaccuracy with DiNovo’s claims. Calling OMP an elitist organization is both a misconstrued reflection of the student executive and participants of the simulation. OMP offers financial aid for those who are otherwise unable to pay the conference’s participating fee, which covers running costs of the event. More than 20 schools participated in this year’s event, composed of both public and private schools. It is important to note that the MPP was once a guest to the event in 2007. The Legislature’s protocol office even came out stated that any school may apply for use of the chamber and that UCC had gone through the same application process every year. All members of OMP were extremely disappointed with Cheri DiNovo’s negligent statements, which criticized the hard work of many individuals, based on false ideas and notions. We were disgusted with the ability for a public official to make such ignorant and baseless claims, to gain political support and their name in the news.
The UCC Student Response