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Democracy in the Classroom: A Parliamentary Committee Simulation

Step Two: Assigning Student Roles

(Suggested time — 10 minutes)

Select an appropriate number of participant roles to match the size of your class. The simulation has specified role cards for 30 students. The number of participants can be reduced by eliminating the role of clerk, reducing the number of members in the press gallery, or by assigning one student rather than two students to represent each witness group. If needed, increase the number of participants by adding to the size of the press gallery and increasing the number of representatives for some of the witness groups.

Consult the following role descriptions when deciding which students are to assume which roles. Distribute the appropriate role cards to each student.

The simulation is organized around a meeting of a parliamentary committee and its role in examining, debating, amending and reporting on a bill. Students assume the roles of senators or members of the House of Commons, ministers, witnesses, committee chairs, clerks and members of the press gallery.

Student Roles
Number of Roles Role Tasks Requirements
1 Committee chair Chairs debates and moves simulation through stages Should be a student who is organized and confident.
1 Committee clerk Keeps track of proposals for amendments and materials Little speaking required. This work can easily be done by the teacher.
7 Government committee members Members of committee who represent government party Will ask questions of witnesses, debate clauses, vote.
7 Opposition committee members Members of committee representing two opposition parties Will ask questions of witnesses, debate clauses, propose amendments, vote.
1 Lead cabinet minister Minister who is sponsoring the bill Will ask questions of witnesses, debate clauses, propose amendments, vote.
Up to 8 Witnesses Represent the public and organizations Work in pairs to represent four organizations. Make presentations to the committee and answer questions.
Up to 5 Members of press gallery Journalists covering this committee meeting Write articles about the meeting. Appropriate for students who missed the preparation session for the simulation.

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