Today in the legislature I had the distinct pleasure of hosting Jillian McCue on a job shadow. Jillian is the remarkable young woman who spent three years trying to get Saanich to allow her to have miniature goats in her back garden. I took the opportunity to make a two minute statement highlighting her inspirational achievements.
Below I reproduce the text and video of my speech.
A. Weaver: I’d like to pay tribute to an inspirational young woman who I have the distinct honour of hosting on a job shadow today. Her name is Jillian McCue, a 13-year-old grade eight student at Gordon Head Middle School.
I first met Jillian in April 2013 during a meet-and-greet that I was attending in the lead-up to the last election. Midway through the event, Jillian, then only nine, entered and requested that I ask the audience to sign her petition. I didn’t know who she was or what the petition was about, so I suggested she make the pitch directly. It was compelling, grounded in evidence, and eloquently and passionately delivered. Jillian was setting out to change the fact that Saanich municipal bylaws did not permit miniature goats to be kept in backyards, and she convinced every single person in the room to sign the petition.
She’d done her homework. She learned that in 2007, Seattle city council approved keeping miniature goats as pets. She undertook her own research to disarm the potential criticism that goats would be smelly. Participants in her goat-poo smell study were asked to smell two bags: one containing dog poop and the other containing goat poop. They were then asked to rate the smelliness on a Likert scale of 1 to 5. Her survey data confirmed her hypothesis. On average, dog droppings smell twice as bad as goat poop.
Armed with her research, a petition signed by 132 people in her neighbourhood and well-structured PowerPoint slides, Jillian made a presentation to Saanich council. She was peppered with questions that she easily handled, and Saanich subsequently referred the matter to no less than three separate committees. So began the grueling municipal approval process.
She presented to each of the committees and fielded many questions. She responded to numerous media requests. Three years later — yes, that’s three years — Saanich finally agreed to allow a pilot project to be undertaken. Jillian was able to obtain two miniature goats.
After watching Jillian navigate the complexities of municipal politics, I’m convinced that her determination, skills and ability to take on big challenges could allow her to achieve one of her life goals. That is to be the Prime Minister of Canada.