Parlement Jeunesse du Québec
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The Parlement Jeunesse du Québec (PJQ) is one of a number of provincial youth parliaments across Canada. The PJQ held its first session in 1949, under the name “Older Boys’ Parliament of Quebec” (“OBPQ”). It was founded through the assistance of the Rev. Normand Hellier of the United Church. The OBPQ was originally sponsored by the Boys’ Work Board of the Council of Christian Education. The members of the OBPQ were almost all members of Protestant churches – anglican, baptist, and presbyterian. Furthermore, the OBPQ was an anglophone organization, conducting its debates and business in English.
Through the 1960s and 1970s the OBPQ moved away from its origins as church-sponsored boys’ organization. It also debated opening its membership up to young women. In 1969, it passed a resolution to admit women and to change its name to the Quebec Youth Parliament (“QYP”).
By 1976, the year that the Parti Québécois was first elected to govern Quebec, the QYP was still a largely anglophone organization. However, it introduced bills supporting bilingual teaching and French language integration of new immigrants. In the late 1970s, sponsorship by the Protestant churches declined, contemporaneous with an increase of French-speaking members. By the 1980s, the QYP became increasingly bilingual as bills were introduced in both English and French and debates occurred in both languages more often.
In 1986, a French-speaking Prime Minister was elected as the head of the QYP for the first time. Within a year, the QYP became a French-speaking organization, with all documentation and legislation produced initially in French, the participants being mostly French-speaking, and the QYP changing its name once again, this time to “le Parlement Jeunesse du Québec”.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the PJQ developed a number of regional parliaments. These regional parliaments have some measure of independence from the PJQ, but are overseen by a PJQ cabinet minister who is responsible for organizing interregional meetings and information flow. Regional parliaments, in various forms, have been established in Beauce, Montérégie, Outaouais, Mauricie, Estrie, Quebec City, and the area of Laval-Laurentides-Lanaudière.
Starting in 1994, in collaboration with the Quebec-Wallonia-Brussels Agency for Youth, the PJQ has accepted a number of Belgian delegates as members of the PJQ. This opportunity provided a core of young Belgians with the experience to enable them to establish a Youth Parliament of the French Community of Belgium in 1997. Four members of the PJQ were invited to attend the first session.
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