West Mountain youngster now a page at Queen’s Park
While some 13-year-olds collect hockey or baseball cards, Gabrielle Le Donne spent much of her summer making MPP cards.
The Grade 8 student at Corpus Christi Catholic Elementary School began a five-week stint earlier this week as a page in the Ontario Legislature.
“I’m going to learn a lot and meet a lot of people and it will be really fun,” said Le Donne, a 90 percent plus grade student who has twice won a school board director’s award of excellence.
She’s also Hamilton Skating Club member, has a second degree black belt in karate, has twice won science fair medals and enjoys helping at home with her two younger sisters and playing golf with her grandfather.
Le Donne is among about 20 pages that were selected from a field of about 400 candidates for the fall session.
About 140 boys and girls are chosen each year.
Pages must have an academic record of 80 percent or higher, demonstrate leadership and be involved in extra-curricular activities in and outside school.
Le Donne noted the 107 cards, one for each Ontario MPP, features the elected rep’s photo on the front and their name and riding on the back.
They will help her identify and remember all of the members of the legislature, which is a requirement for every page.
Le Donne said her duties will include delivering reports from committees along with bills, motions and petitions from members to the speaker or clerk of the legislature.
Pages also deliver notes between MPPs, get them water and do photocopying as needed.
Le Donne said a key part of the job is to deliver briefing notes from member’s aids and assistants to MPPs during question period.
“We have to bring it to the MPP as quickly as we can,” she said. “We have to get the paper down right before they stand up.”
Le Donne said she was told about the legislative page program by her father Dino, who spotted it last winter in a calendar mailed out by Mountain MPP Monique Taylor.
The idea of being a page enticed the youth.
She filled out an online application, got a recommendation from her school and wrote a 750 word essay about her accomplishments and attributes.
With some help from her mother Freda Le Donne, the youth wrote down a number of points on paper before putting them into essay form electronically.
In her essay, Led Donne noted all her activities and that she is good at working with people.
Late in July she received a call from the page program letting her know she had been chosen.
“We were thrilled when we go the call from Queen’s Park,” said Freda, who took the call.
Her daughter was at the skating club at the time and excitedly returned the call when she got home.
“We are happy to have her here at Queen’s Park as a Legislative Page,” said Erin Tedford, program director of the page program via email.
Tedford noted Le Donne “demonstrates discipline, perseverance and commitment,” in all her endeavours.
Le Donne said she received a hefty package from the page program office that contained photos of the MPPs and an explanation of her duties and what is expected of her.
She and the other new pages attended an orientation session at Queen’s Park on Aug. 29.
Too small to wear one of the existing page outfits, Le Donne said an outfit had to be re-sewn to fit her.
She will be at the legislature each day during the week and will receive daily tutoring in math and languages so she does not fall behind in her school work.
Pages also attend a class that teaches them about the legislative process.
Since the legislature does not sit on Fridays Le Donne noted the pages will vote on whatTorontolandmark or institution they would like to visit that day.
She expects their field trips to include the CN Tower,RoyalOntarioMuseum and Art Gallery of Ontario.
Le Donne said she will be living with an aunt in Stouffville for the next five weeks who will get her to and from the legislature each day.
She will receive an honorarium of $15 per day and be reimbursed for public transit costs and get 44 cents per kilometre for two round-trips between home and the legislature.