The Dominion’s New Auto Insurance Microsite

Sponsor, The Dominion, recently launched a new microsite for auto insurance.

www.MyChoiceCarInsurance.ca aims to prepare citizens for new government-mandated changes that will affect car insurance, which will arrive Sept. 1, including a reduction in medical and rehabilitation benefits for accident victims and reduced limits for attendant care benefits.

MyChoiceCarInsurance.ca allows consumers to ask questions about their car insurance, and guides them through statistics that can help them choose the coverage that suits them best.

“Ontario drivers now have to understand much more about insurance, and the various available coverages, than they did in the past,” says George Cooke, The Dominion’s president and CEO, in a release.

MyChoiceCarInsurance.ca is about educating consumers—regardless of whether or not we happen to insure them—starting the conversation that continues with professional advice from an independent insurance broker.”

The site contains overviews of four types of car accidents and the subsequent expenses that can follow, detailed case studies that look at what an accident or injury can cost, and an interactive chart outlining coverage choices.

The website also features “Ask The Dominion,” a special FAQ section where visitors can ask questions directly to the company.

“When the changes in Ontario were announced, we saw this as a great way to expand our commitment to consumers in an innovative way,” said Shelagh Paul, assistant VP of corporate communications for The Dominion.

The Dominion plans on driving people to the website via several independent insurance brokers who sell their products. The company also hopes to gain traction through Facebook, links on key industry websites and word of mouth, Paul said.

From Practice to Theory

Each year, as part of the academic component of the internship, the interns are given the task of writing a research paper on an area that somehow relates to the Ontario Legislature. Although former interns will warn you (as will I) to start your paper at the beginning of the year, the busy buzz of Queen’s Park daily duties makes it difficult to buckle down and transition from a ‘doer’ of politics to a student of politics. What results is an extremely busy last month where long days are followed by long nights, and lots of coffee!

I would argue, however, that many, if not most of the interns find the research process to be one of the most exciting and fulfilling aspects to the year. We’ve all written political science papers before. What’s different about this one is the access interns have to key experts; from ministers to independent officers, to clerks and journalists, to members and political staff, the research unfolds through a series of interviews complimented by the usual theory and case studies.

Writing my own paper on the use of the Lord’s Prayer in the Ontario Legislature, I was able to meet with the four MPPs who had sat on a panel in 2008 to discuss the validity of reciting the Lord’s Prayer in the legislature. I met with journalists who had covered the controversial proposal by Premier McGuinty to “move beyond the Lord’s Prayer” to a prayer that better represents Ontario’s diversity , and even had the opportunity to speak with former members (Speaker David Warner, 1990-1995) who had at once made efforts to change the prayer.

As we polished off our papers in the beginning of June, we set off for the Canadian Political Science Association’s annual conference. Each year the interns present their papers at the conference as well as get the opportunity to attend sessions and panels offered by researchers and academics. For many of us, we found ourselves bumping into the authors and political scientists we had studied in university, confronting some of the same topics we had read in journals in an open dialogue setting.

Having always been interested in renegotiations and reinterpretations of citizenship, I attended a number of sessions on aboriginal citizenship, local citizenship and one that particularly sparked my attention, maternal citizenship. The panelists were all young researchers, bright as ever and with experiences so diverse and colorful that it made me extremely eager to go back to school next year and dive deeper into some of the issues I confronted this year at Queen’s Park.

Often I’ve been told that practical experience is only useful insofar as you can relate it back to or rather contextualize it within theory. For the most part, I agree with this notion. However, without testing the theory and finding the loops and holes and bumps that exist, you’ve got one eye closed. The internship was, in the end, a test of theory on democratic politics. And so, with both eyes open, comes an end to the practice and a return to theory.

Meeting John Turner

One of the real treats to being an OLIP intern is the kinds of meetings you can ask for and usually get! This month we had the privilege of meeting the Right Honourable John Turner, 17th Prime Minister of Canada in 1984. Mr. Turner came to Queen’s Park to meet the interns. We weren’t really sure what to expect; with such an extensive political career, right in the thick of some of Canada’s most exciting political events, we had a lot of questions to ask! Mr. Turner took the time to answer each and everyone of our questions and threw in a few interesting anecdotes from his political past. With a to-the-point, honest and blunt approach to politics, Mr. Turner gave us the exact same in our interview. It was a great opportunity to meet a former Prime Minister and to hear his insight on politics past, present and future!

A Day at the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO)

Last week the interns had the opportunity to visit PEO headquarters for the day. As sponsors, the interns have been privileged to meet with PEO representatives a number of times over our ten-month internship, including the PEO conference that the interns attended in early April. PEO has a keen interest in Ontario politics, particularly since the organization aims to have eleven engineers elected into the Legislature by 2011. The purpose of our trip this time was to have an open conversation about the best way to engage engineers in the political process. Given that our internship is comprised of young people, the focus was how to engage youth. We all were quite animated in our responses regarding this issue, given that youth engagement in the formal political process has been a recurring theme that has treaded itself into many of our meetings over the year. Not only were we able to have an open and engaging conversation regarding this subject and put some concrete ideas on paper, the interns were also exposed to the intricate dynamics of PEO operations and networks. We found this workshop to be informative, educational and greatly appreciated working with PEO representatives, Marisa Sterling, Kim Allen and Nathan Brown for the day. We know that PEO will continue to be a huge supporter of OLIP in the future and wish them enormous luck in achieving their goal of eleven in eleven next year!

Meeting Phil Fontaine

It was a special honour on Friday, June 10th, to meet Phil Fontaine. Mr. Fontaine was the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations for three terms, having just finished his last term in 2009. After his first term as chief, Mr. Fontaine also served as the chief commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission, showing great success in this position, especially in the resolution of Kahkewistahaw First Nation land claim. Upon his return to national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Mr. Fontaine helped negotiate the landmark Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. This settlement will see $5 billion go to IRS survivors, and to help fund special counselling and rehabilitative programs. This settlement is also significant because it coincided with the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (IRS TRC).

Having written my M.A. thesis on the IRS TRC, it was a special treat to meet someone who had been so foundational in seeing not only the settlement, but the commission begin. Meeting with Mr. Fontaine reinforced, for all the interns, the importance of learning our own history. Many of us realized that we had not learned anything about the history of aboriginal peoples in elementary or even secondary school, except maybe to learn of aboriginal alliances between the settling nations of England and France. To hear from Mr. Fontaine what current struggles face Aboriginal and First Nations communities and to hear his vision for a different and better future for these communities, was truly inspiring.

Meeting the Mayoral Candidates – Jon

This year provided all of us insight into the world of the Ontario Legislature. We had the opportunity to eat, sleep, and breathe Ontario politics for 10 months. But the program also gave us a chance to peer into other levels of government as well. During our trip to Ottawa and Quebec City, we engaged with MPs and MLAs about issues facing the country, as well as issues surrounding federalism.

We also had the good fortune to meet with a number of individuals from the City of Toronto. Being so close in proximity to City Hall gave us the chance to pick the brains of municipal leaders and would-be mayors. Early on in the year we met with David Miller, and later Adam Giambrone. In both of these meetings, the amount of knowledge and experience was remarkable. My personal interest in municipal issues had always been arms-length, but learning about transit city and some of Toronto’s green initiatives seemed extremely innovative.

Later on in the year, as the mayors race began to heat up, the interns also had the chance to meet with some of the mayoral candidates. First off was George Smitherman, a familiar face, who had been at Queen’s Park when we first arrived, George spoke frankly about why he wanted to be Mayor and how his experiences have prepared him for it.

Next we met with Rocco Rossi. Not having been a politician in the past, we didn’t know what to expect. He spoke about his past, how he entered the world of politics, and how his vision for the city differed from that of some of the other candidates. It was a great meeting, and he provided all the interns with some great life advice. It was clear Rocco Rossi was a man that followed his passion.

Having grown up in Toronto, it was great to interact with municipal leaders. It sparked a passion for all things municipal, and was a great opportunity to begin to learn about what the City of Toronto needs going forward.

Reflections on my second placement – Aviva

For my second placement with OLIP, I had the opportunity to work with Dave Levac, the MPP for Brant and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. I am one of many interns to have worked in Dave’s office, though the first one to work with him as the PA to MEI. This session, I was able to contribute to several projects in the office, and will detail 2 in particular. First off, I worked on Dave’s Private Member’s Bill, Bill 5, which sets out a bill of rights for pupils with diabetes. Dave is well known for tabling several private member’s bills every session on issues of significance to him and his community. However, during this legislative session, Dave chose to take Bill 5 to second reading at Queen’s Park. I was able to work on the research side of the bill, learning all about the issues diabetic students face across Ontario, and work with our stakeholders to develop a framework so that the bill will make it to committee. Writing out Dave’s notes for second reading, coordinating with diabetes organizations, and outreaching to MPPs from all sides of the house were all equally challenging and rewarding experiences. I am fortunate to have played a major role in Bill 5, so much so that Dave acknowledged me in his speech on the bill, so my name is now forever inscribed in Hansard!

In addition to working on Bill 5, writing up correspondence with constituents, setting up and attending meetings with Dave, I also worked on planning the first ever Brant Day at Queen’s Park. Hosted by Dave, the Speaker, and Walter Gretzky, Brant Day took place on May 31, 2010 at Queen’s Park. Over 70 people came down from the riding to showcase the Brant region to their elected representatives. Numerous MPPs and several Cabinet Ministers came to Brant Day to visit the booths from economic development organizations, cultural groups, First Nations communities, post-secondary institutions, and agricultural associations. After question period, Dave, Walter, and the Speaker held the first ever hockey ball drop in honour of the Walter Gretzky annual ball hockey tournament, held yearly in Brantford. The event was a huge success, with policy advisors, deputy ministers, and assistant deputy ministers from all ministries also coming to learn about the Brant community and all it has to offer. Attendees at the reception were treated to lunch and some local treats, such as Ferraro Rocher chocolates, which are made in Brantford! The most exciting part for me was being able to participate in the planning for the event, which included 2 trips to Brantford to coordinate with local chamber of commerce, Tourism Brantford, and more. Working on this reception, whether it was organizing catering, planning the set-up, or giving away the incredible goodie bags at the end, was an absolute pleasure. I am extremely fortunate to have been so involved in these 2 projects in Dave’s office, along with many other initiatives.