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Students stage election

Kathleen Lippa
Northern News Services

Cambridge Bay (June 28/04) - Students at Kiilinit high school in Cambridge Bay got excited about politics last week when a mock election was held.

Four girls and one boy ran, voter turnout was high, and Liberal candidate Meagan Pizzo-Lyall, Grade 11, was elected Prime Minister, with a minority government.

"I tend to get really passionate about things I do," Pizzo-Lyall said. "Everybody tells me I have a good voice."

Shauna Angulalik, Grade 11, ran for the Conservatives. Rebecca Rowan, Grade 7, ran for the New Democratic Party; Candice Burles was the Green Party candidate; and Julian Tologanak, Grade 10, ran for the Bloc Quebecois with a Nunavut twist, stressing the need to protect culture and language.

"It was amazing," said Patti Bligh, the Grade 10 and 11 social studies teacher who organized the event after being inspired at a conference for teachers in Ottawa.

"Party politics is so ingrained in the south," Bligh said last week. "Up here it is different, we have the consensus system."

The mock election caught on like wildfire, with posters, slogans like Spoc for the Bloc (the student's nickname is Spoc), buttons and moving speeches delivered by each candidate.

So many students wanted to vote, more ballots had to be printed. Only 80 were made, 107 were cast.

Pizzo-Lyall learned from the experience.

"Everyone is bashing everybody in elections. I don't like that," she said. "I wrote a speech about how we're going to make Canada better. Better health care, housing."

During the debate, Pizzo-Lyall said she got "bashed" over the sponsorship scandal. Her reply? "I said I would get a better finance minister," she said with a laugh.

Politics is not out of the question for Pizzo-Lyall as a career. She comes by it naturally, with Charlie Lyall as a father. She says he has inspired her.

Pizzo-Lyall and Bloc candidate Julian Tologanak butted heads over a couple of issues, especially when he compared Nunavut to Quebec.

"I just told him I was embarrassed he would compare us with Quebec because Quebec tried to separate from Canada."

She did like, though, how language and culture was on the Bloc agenda and came up for debate. "He brought up stuff about culture and language," Pizzo-Lyall said. "I was proud of that. He's got good insights and stuff."