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Annual youth parliament opens tonight

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Should the government have more power to crackdown on political protesters?

Should advertisers be forced to show models of a variety of weights and body shapes?

While many bargain-hungry Winnipeggers will spend Boxing Day at the mall, a group of political-savvy youths will learn about the Canadian parliamentary system by debating these contentious issues. The 91st session of Youth Parliament of Manitoba opens this evening, and 80 youth aged 16 to 20 will spend the next five days debating the pros and cons of proposed legislation which touches on issues such as freedom of speech and education reform.

Darren Haber, a member of the non-profit's executive committee, said six senior youth parliament members will present pieces of legislation that are meant to be controversial and spark debate. This evening, the session will open with a bill which proposes increased regulation of protest and rallies, including mandatory police searches of all participants.

Haber said the bill was inspired by the student protests in Quebec and the provincial government's subsequent decision to impose limits on public protests. Opening ceremonies will begin at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the legislative chamber, and the debate kicks off at 7:15 p.m.

"We want (topics) that will raise issues and get people to talk about whether we want this in society or not," Haber said.

This week, youth will also debate whether the government should make it illegal to sell appearance-enhancing cosmetics to youth under 16 and ban elective plastic surgery in Canada.

 

 

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