Crowe students spent three weeks researching for the provincial debates, and they consulted a local lawyer. Photo: Unsplash

Crowe students spent three weeks researching for the provincial debates, and they consulted a local lawyer. Photo: Unsplash

Kootenay Columbia students debate virtually for provincial cup

Two Grade 8 students are bound for the Canadian Junior Nationals in May via Zoom

Debate students at J.L. Crowe Secondary School, alongside their teenaged counterparts from across B.C., were not about to let a pandemic time-out the provincial championships this year.

Instead of travelling to a host city to debate topics such as the United Nations or a key North American trade agreement, last weekend the students met on screen to deliberate their way through the 2021 Law Foundation Cup Debate Provincials.

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Crowe students attended the online event via Zoom. Seniors included Sasha Leithead and Katie Mountain, and juniors were represented by two teams; Jill O’Hearn Stone and Kayalla Fedechko, and Liam Skeoch and Emma Ford.

Friday, (Feb. 26) senior students debated the prepared topic that “illegally obtained evidence be made admissible in court” and junior students debated that “victims should receive compensation in lieu of punishing a defendant.”

The debaters developed their prepared arguments over three weeks by researching points and meeting with local lawyer Leigh Harrison in anticipation of the tournament.

Saturday sessions, (Feb. 27) included three impromptu rounds.

Students in this style of debate had 30 minutes to generate their case-line for either the proposition or opposition side in the Canadian National Debate Format.

Topics centered around four themes; social justice, employment, family, and foreign and government relations.

Junior students debated whether ethnic and gender quotas should be introduced into film and television productions.

Seniors discussed how society should object to media and literature that romanticizes mental health.

“Each round brought forward interesting proposals including that we create incentives to hire non-college graduates and even, that we should pay stay-at-home parents,” noted Marilyn Lunde, Crowe teacher/librarian.

Round 4 saw students talking about the working class, the fallout of the pandemic, and family ethos.

“[Such as] if there should be a demand for the continued provision of guaranteed income, even post pandemic, regardless of the level of economic recovery,” Lunde explained. “Lastly, students rallied around that the ‘house’ would prefer a world where familial love is seen as conditional as opposed to unconditional.”

Lunde says topics in the grand final for both the junior and senior rounds were tough, but the top two teams in each category were up for the challenge.

Students were given an info slide which helped to explain the topic. Then, depending upon which category the students were in, they spoke for their allotted time; for the juniors that meant six minutes each and for the seniors, eight minutes each.

Juniors debated support for the creation of United Nations (UN) protectorates in failing states. (UN protectorates are international administrations established to govern countries or regions in crisis.) Examples include the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). A failing state is a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government no longer function properly. Examples include, South Sudan, Somalia and Haiti.

“This House Supports a USMCA (US Mexico Canada Agreement) free movement zone,” was the motion for the senior grand final.

Info Slide: The freedom of movement for workers is a policy of the European Union. The free movement of workers means that nationals of any member state of the European Union can take up employment in another member state on the same conditions as the nationals of that particular member state. In particular, no discrimination or preferential treatment based on nationality is allowed. In the end, the junior proposition won their case and failing states should be supported by the UN and in the seniors, the idea of free movement in North America was not feasible and opposition took the debate.

Crowe junior student Liam Skeoch placed 12th out of 72 students in his category. As a result, he and his partner Emma Ford will attend the Canadian Junior National Seminar in early May via Zoom.

“This was Liam’s first provincial having only started in October, [and it] includes students a grade above him,” said Lunde. “All participants from J.L. Crowe were working with new partners and in new categories and we congratulate them in their involvement in this spirited, challenging and demanding event.”

Lunde thanks teachers Christie Jago and Kim Eggert, and former debater, Brogan Pastro, for volunteering to judge at this esteemed event.

“Lastly, thank you to Leigh Harrison, Queen’s Counsel, who continues to inspire and educate our students on the important aspects of the law,” said Lunde. “His ongoing support of this team is valued.”

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School District No. 20 Kootenay-Columbia