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Young Canadians compete on national TV for Paul Martin's job

Stephanie Taylor | Interrobang | News | August 29th, 2005

It ain't easy being Prime Minister. Meetings that run long into the night, countless hours spent on a plane, endless problems to solve and relentlesscriticism — it all comes with the territory. Not everyone has what it takes to govern a country.

Do you?

Young Canadians from across the country will be answering that question on The Next Great Prime Minister, a new primetime special airing this fall on Canadian network television.

The show will provide a forum for five final contestants to share their ideas on improving the nation while competing for a $50,000 cash prize and a six-month internship. But none of the final five will walk away empty-handed; the four runners-up will receive two-month internships and $10,000.

The DMK Fair Enterprise Internship will give the winner a chance to experience business systems in both private sector and non-government organizations in addition to a two-month encounter with the senior level of the federal government. The internships will be conducted at Magna International Inc., an international auto parts supplier; the Dominion Institute, a not-for-profit organization specializing in the preservation of Canadian history; and a prominent deputy ministry at the federal level.

The internship is designed to give the winners a chance to experience how each enterprise is managed, according to the Magna International project liaison Dan Donovan. “There are similarities, but there are also great differences, and the internships will give [the winners] a great perspective.”

To enter the contest, each candidate must submit a three- to five-minute video clip detailing the future vision of Canada and what policies and legislation would need to be introduced to achieve that vision. All video submissions must be received by September 30, 2005.

Based on the content of videos already received, Donovan is convinced that Canadian youth is engaged, committed and concerned about issues facing today's citizens.

“We often hear that the younger generation is cynical, but this isn't what we're finding [on the videos],” Donovan said. “It's endearing — there are some really great ideas out there.”

The concept for a television special evolved from a ten-year Magna initiative called the As Prime Minister Awards that celebrated creative political ideas.

Past participants of the As Prime Minister Awards have pursued prestigious careers in areas such as law and politics; one former contestant is currently a Conservative Member of Parliament in Ottawa.

While the format of The Next Great Prime Minister may appear similar to that of other reality entertainment programs, the show's producer, John LaRose stated in a recent press release that, “[the show] is not a political version of Canadian Idol.” He also outlined the judging process, stating that the candidates would be evaluated by a panel of prominent Canadians, and will be tested on a number of real-life situations that the Prime Minster would likely face.

“Candidates will be judged on their ideas, their creativity, their vision for the country and their leadership skills,” LaRose added. “Having to perform under pressure will be a test of their skills.”

Full details and contest rules can be found on the show's website at
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