Throwback Thursday: February in Review

6 months down, 4 to go!


Although February is the shortest month, it was filled with exciting activities for the interns!

We started February with the end of our first placements and the announcement of our second placements. While we were sad to leave our first placements, we all looked forward to the new adventures and learning that would take place in our second offices (check our bios on our website to see where we are now!).

We also took place in an OLIP tradition, heading to the great white north with a study tour to Yellowknife. The weather was warm (for the season) and second only to the warm welcome we were given by Principal Clerk Uncle Mike and the many individuals who we were fortunate to meet with throughout the week.

We were able to see the Northern Lights, ride a dog sled, eat at the famous Bullock’s Bistro (where we added our business cards to the collection of OLIP intern cards that have collected on the roof over the years), and got to see firsthand how consensus government works.

One unique thing we experienced on the trip was that the hotel we were staying in had a fire alarm go off in the middle of the night. So there was an impromptu meeting in the parking lot at 2am…you just never know what might happen during the internship!

Back in Ontario, we continued to meet with sponsors and alumni, including a tour of Metroland Media with the Ontario Community Newspapers Association, a meeting with Tim Hudak of the Ontario Real Estate Association, and programme alum Jason and Monika at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as we continue to March through the internship! There are plenty more exciting things planned for the months ahead.

Security, Diplomacy, Municipality: A Flurry of February Fun

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After returning from our amazing trip to Yellowknife, the interns hit the ground running in our first week back. Apart from starting in our second MPP placements, the interns also had the opportunity to meet with several exciting professionals on our first Friday back in Ontario.

Our first meeting of the day, with British Consul General Kevin McGurgan, was particularly special for us since the British Consulate has generously supported the interns’ U.K. trip for many years. Getting to meet Mr. McGurgan was a real honour for the interns. As the consul general in Toronto, he is responsible for prosperity policy and encouraging trade relations between Canada and the U.K. He stressed the importance of collaboration in science, innovation and trade internationally, which the interns can agree with wholeheartedly.

Our next meeting had just as much experience in public service, though his newest position is only about a month old. Ray Boisvert is the newly appointed Ontario Public Security Advisor. The Public Security Advisor is a public servant responsible for intelligence and security on the provincial level. Mr. Boisvert brings over 30 years of experience with the RCMP and CSIS to his new role, and we were grateful to chat with him about his wealth of knowledge regarding national security.

The day ended on a high note, with a meeting at the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO). We spoke with OLIP alumni Monika Turner, Director of Policy, and Jason Hagan, Program Manager for the Local Authority Services program. We had a lively discussion about the 444 Ontario municipalities represented by AMO, and the diverse needs of municipalities which range from large cities to “teeny-tinies” (municipalities with a population of under 1000).

Thanks to Mr. McGurgan, Mr. Boisvert, Ms. Turner and Mr. Hagan for a great day! Stay tuned for more as we delve into our second term placements.

Visiting the Institute for Canadian Citizenship

Leith Bishop Institute for Canadian Citizenship

Earlier this year we headed over to Toronto’s Old Chinatown to meet with Leith Bishop and her colleagues at the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), a non-profit organization co-founded by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul.

The ICC is focused on connecting new Canadians through opportunities such as Building Citizenship Community Ceremonies and the 6 Degrees Forum. Every year, the Building Citizenship program hosts over 60 special citizenship ceremonies across the country – each with a roundtable and reception – all to celebrate belonging and to welcome new Canadians to our northern family.

The 6 Degrees Forum is another opportunity for Canadians to get engaged. With events in Toronto, Vancouver and in Europe, this citizen space promotes connectivity and encourages participants to recognize the contributions of migrants to our communities, and to think critically about what it means to be inclusive in an increasingly divisive global environment.  

The ICC also promotes active citizenship amongst newcomers through its Cultural Access Pass Program, which provides new citizens with a free pass to 1300+ cultural attractions across the country during their first year as Canadians. Another important project championed by the non-profit is the ICC Insights program. ICC Insights seeks to be a leading voice on research related to inclusion and the newcomer experience in Canada.

Visiting the ICC served as a powerful reminder of our province’s diversity and the importance of working towards greater inclusivity and multiculturalism in Canada. Thank you to Leith Bishop, Yasmine Mohamed, Alykhan Haji, Heather Steel and Alain Pescador for hosting the OLIP interns at the ICC!

The Ace in the Accord: Parsing Politics with the Honourable David Peterson

David Peterson_20th Premier of Ontario

The Honourable David Peterson with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

Building on our ever-growing knowledge of Ontario’s political history, we recently had the pleasure of sitting down with former Premier, David Peterson, to learn about his experience running the province. As the first Liberal to lead Ontario after 42 years of Conservative governments, Mr. Peterson has a fascinating background. He shared stories of his many experiences which included a number of events that took place between the fall of the Big Blue Machine all the way to the snap election that saw the NDP take power under Bob Rae.

Walking into our meeting with an easy smile and quick wit, the charisma that propelled Mr. Peterson to leadership was clear to see. As one of the driving forces behind the Meech Lake Accord, Mr. Peterson had plenty of insights to share with us regarding party dynamics and complex intergovernmental relations. We also enjoyed hearing Mr. Peterson reminisce about the combination of events that allowed the Liberals and NDP to bring down the Miller government in 1985 and the negotiations that lead to the Liberal-NDP Accord.

Thank you to Mr. Peterson for hosting us and for sharing your experiences and advice! Make sure to check out OLIP Unplugged again soon to see who we meet with next!

A Wynne-ing Discussion for the Interns

Kathleen Wynne - Steph's DSLR Camera Pic

Premier Kathleen Wynne with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

Minutes before our meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne, a tense silence hung in the air. It was a silence of nerves, of anticipation. One of my fellow interns turned to me and asked, ‘Why am I nervous?’

I wasn’t sure. After having actually met with our Premier and taking some time to reflect, I believe that I can posit a hypothesis, at least: our nerves were raw excitement, misplaced. After all, who wouldn’t be excited to meet a Premier whose enviable rhetoric and argumentation style elevates debate in Question Period to an art? A Premier who, as a gay woman, capably leads a province which still hadn’t legalized same-sex marriage at the beginning of this century?

And finally: a Premier who was able to put the interns’ nerves to rest within a minute of sitting down to speak with us? Given how excited we were, that really is an enviable accomplishment.

Premier Wynne told us matter-of-factly that unfortunately, she didn’t have a lot of time to spend with us, so she wanted to get started with our questions right away. She anticipated rightly that we had a lot of them.

We spoke about the issues of the day, but also about how the Premier handles her job more generally. The answer? Passion.

“To be a successful politician, you have to love people,” she told us. Fortunately, that is something that comes naturally to Ms. Wynne. “I don’t have to pretend to be an extrovert,” she said, “I just am.”

“I enjoy being a politician,” she said frankly.

On the topic of politics and the Legislature more generally, the Premier upheld the idea that, in her words, a parliament “exists to be an exchange of ideas.” The interns can certainly attest to that; we have been privy to so many interesting ideas since the beginning of our internship, and many have indeed come from Premier Wynne.

Just before our time with the Premier was up, we couldn’t resist asking one self-serving question: did Ms. Wynne have any advice for us?

She advised us to listen to and value the advice we are given, but to remember that “[a]t some point, you just have to make a decision to go for it.”

We will, Ms. Wynne. Thank you.

Throwback Thursday: January in Review

5 months down, 5 to go!

January marked the start of a new year as well as the halfway point of our internship. We’ve managed to pack a lot of exciting activities into the first half of the programme, and January was no different.

2017 might be the Year of the Rooster, but for the interns, January was the Month of the Premiers. We met with the Honourable(s) Kathleen Wynne, Dalton McGuinty, David Peterson, and Bob Rae. It was great to meet with all of them and hear about the role of Premier from so many knowledgeable sources (as always, check out our other blogs for details about each meeting).

One of our first meetings of the year was with our incredible sponsor the Insurance Broker’s Association of Ontario. While we all knew about insurance, we didn’t know much about insurance brokers, so we had the chance to sit down with Brett Boadway to learn about the industry and its work.

We also had the opportunity to visit another sponsor, Estee Lauder, at their manufacturing facility in Markham. During the visit we got to see how lipstick is made, and even got to make some of our own!

Other key sponsor meetings included AMAPCEO, the bargaining agent for professional and supervisory public servants in Ontario—including many OLIP alumni working in the OPS, and VIA Rail, who provided the transportation for our Quebec City-Ottawa trip.  

With the internship half finished, January also meant it’s time to get serious about our OLIP academic papers. Mid-month, we spent the day planning our proposals and hearing what everyone has in store for their paper and the CPSA conference in May at Ryerson University. Stay tuned to future blogs posts to learn more about our papers and the CPSA conference!

February may be the shortest month of the year, but with our trip to Yellowknife and new placements, it certainly won’t be the dullest. Keep following the blog and check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for details on everything we’re up to!

A Wide A-Rae of Experience: Our Meeting with the Honourable Bob Rae

Bob Rae

The Honourable Bob Rae with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

One of the incredible opportunities of the OLIP experience is the chance to sit down with some of the most influential figures in Ontario and Canada. Needless to say, Bob Rae, the 21st Premier of Ontario, was high on our list of people we’d like to meet.

Mr. Rae was the fourth former Premier we met with and he provided unparalleled insight into his own career and Canadian politics at large. We heard about his early days as a federal MP, his progression to leader of the Ontario NDP, and his many hard fought election campaigns in between. He recounted the conception of the Liberal-NDP Accord that followed the 1985 election, resulting in David Peterson becoming Premier and the end of the 42-year Progressive Conservative dynasty in Ontario. And of course, the period from 1990-1995 was of particular interest to us, for those were the years Bob Rae was Premier after leading the NDP to win an election nobody thought they could.

But Bob Rae’s career in politics did not end there.

It was comforting to hear about Mr. Rae’s transition to becoming a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, (and eventually interim leader). Often throughout this internship it has been difficult to reconcile a passion for public service with the restraints of partisan politics. However, Bob Rae’s experience taught us that with conviction, courage, and authenticity we always have the power to adapt to evolving circumstances and, as interns, to our developing beliefs. It is with this in mind that we continue to discover how we all fit into the world of public service, now and in the future.

Thank you for sharing your story, Mr. Rae.