________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 14 . . . . March 16, 2001

cover Wendy Lill: Playwright in Parliament.

Michael Mahoney & Meredith Ralston (Directors). Michael Mahoney & Meredith Ralston (Producers, Ralston Productions), Kent Martin (Producer, NFB).
Montreal, PQ: Ralston Productions & the National Film Board of Canada, 1999.
50 min., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9199 069.

Subject Headings:
Women politicians-Canada-Biography.
Dramatists, Canadian-20th century.
Women legislators-Canada-Biography.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Stephanie Yamniuk.

**** /4


"The pomp and circumstance of the House of Commons initially struck me as excessive, phony, and I remember thinking: all of this is going on when there are so many people who are homeless...."

"I'm a child of the Sixties, I'm a hippie. I found all of this surreal, over-the-top, and missing the point. And quite frankly, the point was that we were there to deal with very serious problems that are going on in our country."

This narration by playwright and 1997-elected MP Wendy Lill is coupled with visual scenes of parliament in action. The double-edged sword of frustration and excitement are seen in the vehement speeches and looks of despair on the faces of fellow Members of Parliament.

      Wendy Lil, MP for Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, talks about her first few months after the election and the feeling she had, like it was the first day of high school, trying to be appropriate, feeling overwhelmed and out of place. She discusses the real challenges of trying to balance family, writing, her new position in Parliament, and feelings of frustration with the system. The challenge: if you're at home, why are you not working in Ottawa, and if in Ottawa, why are you not working at home?

      As an MP, Wendy sat on two committees: Heritage and Culture, and Disabilities, the first committee because of her livelihood as playwright and writer, and the second because of her own awareness of the system, as evidence in her son, who lives with Down's Syndrome. She describes feeling like an outsider: "I feel like people will point at me and say, what are you doing here?"

      As a result of Wendy's new position, CBC Radio asked her to do a piece: A Journal of a Rookie MP. An appropriate allusion is made in the video: becoming an MP is a lot like becoming a parent; you get any amount of advice, but, in the end, you're on your own.


"People want to know that you are living the same reality that they are - you're taking your kids to baseball games, going to church, you're afraid of getting your house broken into, etc. People want to know that I am taking these concerns to Ottawa."

Highly Recommended.

Stephanie Yamniuk works at the University of Manitoba, is a freelance writer, and many years ago worked as an intern in the White House.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364