A young Red Deer man says his time working on Parliament Hill has been extremely rewarding.
Twenty-year-old Alex Wozny, a Thurber grad, has spent the last two years in Ottawa working in the House of Commons as a page and more recently, a Proceedings and Verifications officer. Having originally planned to attend UBC, he wound up going to the University of Ottawa to study political science and communications in French.
Also a former Red Deer Royals member and avid improv artist, Wozny says his work has brought him to some profound realizations about the human side of politics.
“It’s often easy when you’re not super invested, you just read headlines, to fall into a bubble. This goes for the majority including myself. It’s easy to fall into a comfortable area especially with social media -- meaning you’re not being challenged as much as you might normally on politics,” he says from his home in Red Deer as members aren’t currently sitting.
“It’s very easy to demonize or really hatch some negative feelings towards people who disagree with you politically. I went in not being super invested in politics and I’ve slowly developed that appreciation for it. I see from all sides a lot of very valid arguments and a lot of very admirable people who I aspire to be like. That’s not based on party philosophy – it’s just there are people who’ve come here and put in all this time to try and do something. Sometimes that doesn’t work, but they make that effort.”
Not only did Wozny have to successfully make it through numerous stages of the hiring process, applicants also have to pass a test which involves naming all 338 MPs, their ridings and where they sit. Though one is allowed five incorrect, he explains, Wozny earned a 100 per cent score.
Wozny says as a Proceedings and Verifications officer, he’s responsible for turning members mics on and off during committees, as well as sometimes repeating what members say for the transeditors, and with the same conviction.
“I’m very lucky because a lot of committees are focused on receiving public testimony from public experts, so I have moments where I’m sitting there doing my job, but also listening to these people who are experts in their field talk about national defense or the fisheries industry,” he tells. “There’s a lot of things I’ve never thought about because I never had an interest in them, but you hear these people having such passionate discussion over. At one point for the Status of Women Committee, we had the head of Twitter security video conference in, and hearing his testimony was just amazing.”
Naturally, Wozny can’t help considering one day becoming a member of parliament, adding it’s something he’s trying to approach with a great deal of gravity.
“The more time I’ve spent, the more I’ve realized how complicated and how nuanced it is, how difficult it can be. I’m someone who tries to avoid subscribing to any one party or ideology and I’d really have to look, if I was running, at a constituency and say okay, am I going to be able to do this job and feel like I’m actually doing right by these people?”
Wozny says if it happens, it won’t be for a long time.
“Some of the most inspiring members I’ve met are those who honestly had no interest in it and started off working as doctors, or farmers or as lawyers and that was what they were interested in and they did it because they were interested in their community,” he says.
“You see these people who spent 20 years of their lives working for not-for-profits and it’s those people who never considered politics and then one day had someone come up to them and say ‘Hey, we want you here and need you here.’ Those are the people I hope to emulate one day, if I need to. If I don’t, then I know there’s a lot of other good work I can do for our community.”
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