All Aboard! Bonjour Québec City!

With each clickety-clack of our train, we grew more excited to arrive in Québec City, the first stop on our very first study tour as OLIP Interns. We would like to thank our sponsor, VIA Rail, for helping us on our study tour journey — first to Québec City followed by Ottawa tomorrow!

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We were thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the Assemblée Nationale du Québec today to compare the inner-workings of Québec’s provincial legislature to those of Queen’s Park and the many experiences we have had in the Pink Palace these past few months. 

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We will be posting right here on our OLIP Unplugged Blog as well as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram so make sure to follow us on all of our social media platforms to view our adventures every step of the way!

Au revoir from all of the OLIP Interns in Québec City!

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October in Review

Two down, eight to go!

In the blink of an eye, we’ve made it through another busy month of the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme! We learned beans about chili, went behind the scenes with our public broadcasters, continued to meet with fascinating and influential people around Queen’s Park and…we started our placements!

After a final week of MPP interviews at the start of the month, we were finally placed in our first session offices (you can check out our bios on the OLIP website to see who is placed where!). The first few weeks in our placements have been an exciting time: getting to know our members and their staff, attending stakeholder meetings, writing questions for Question Period, and testing our orientation knowledge by not getting lost (or at least, not too lost)! Many Interns were also given an introduction in the Chamber, making us a part of Leg history, forever recorded in the Hansard.

Outside of the offices, OLIP’s media tour continued with Andrew Coyne, who bridged the gap between print and television journalism with his entertaining insights into politics and the news in general. Next, 45 years to the day of Bill Davis’ first electoral win as Premier, we visited the broadcast network he established — TVO. At TVO, we had the opportunity to visit the set of The Agenda and chat with host, Steve Paikin, who shared with us some of his amazing experiences working at TVO and his admiration for Mr. Davis (the subject of his latest book). Our October media tour wrapped up at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation with Mark Bulgutch, a multi-talented journalist, producer, author, line-up editor (and the list goes on) accompanied by a viewing of the National from the control room. But it wouldn’t be a visit to the National without Peter Mansbridge, who we had the opportunity to meet on set during one of his breaks.

The Interns were also invited to attend the Ontario First Nation Economic Forum, where we had the chance to learn more about issues in Indigenous communities and attended incredible panel discussions regarding challenges and opportunities for economic development in First Nations communities. We also heard inspiring keynote addresses from Chief Clarence Louie, Gary Davis, and Ted Nolan. A big thank you to the Chiefs of Ontario for inviting us to attend!

The current Interns also got acquainted with past interns during an alumni pub night and through meetings with those in and around Queen’s Park as staff and stakeholders. We also participated in the annual chili social and Intern games at the home of honorary intern Rick Sage (and his wife Lorraine Luski, who is also an OLIP alum).

Last but not least this month, we met with the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario who had a wealth of knowledge about the province we live in. Her insights about Ontario are a result of her experiences working in the Public Sector and getting the chance to further explore Ontario and meet its citizens in her role as Lieutenant Governor.

To catch up on everything we did this month, check out our other blog posts and follow us on Twitter. After this action-packed month, we can’t wait to see what November has in store!

The Upcoming Churchill Society Dinner, a 33 Year Tradition

Each year, the OLIP Interns look forward to donning their fanciest attire while attending an annual dinner hosted by our sponsor, The Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy. The Annual Churchill Society Dinner is an event that honours the life and contributions of Sir Winston Churchill while recognizing the good works of a specific individual who has devoted their life to the betterment of parliamentary democracy.  

Here’s a look back at Annual Churchill Society Dinners of years past and the OLIP attendees who assisted with the annual function.

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The tradition continues this year for the Annual Churchill Society Dinner which will take place on Thursday November 24, 2016 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto. This year, Peter Mansbridge, long-time news anchor of CBC’s The National, will be the evening’s guest speaker, while The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry OC, O.Ont, QC LSM will be given the Award for Excellence in the Cause of Parliamentary Democracy. Tickets and tables to this black tie event are still available on The Churchill Society’s website. Click here for more information.

You can read more about The Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy by visiting their website or you can follow them on Twitter by clicking here. See you this Thursday evening!

Be Our Guest! Looking back at our Fall Reception

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The invitations had been sent, the food had been ordered, and by some miracle, the technology was cooperating. The only thing missing was our guests.

This was the scene in the Dining Room on the evening of Wednesday November 2nd, as ten Interns anxiously awaited the start of our Fall Reception. OLIP hosts two receptions every year – one in the Fall, the other in the Spring – to celebrate and thank all those who make this program possible. After weeks of preparation, nervous excitement filled the air as we waited for our guests to arrive.

As with any party, the host always fears no one will show up: Did the invitations have the right date? Will disaster strike at the last minute? Will people forget our reception and choose to watch Game 7 of the World Series instead?

Thankfully none of these fears were realized. With the help of all the Interns, (and an 8:00PM first pitch in Cleveland), the night went off without a hitch. We were thrilled to see MPPs from every party reminiscing with their past Interns; it was fun to watch our OLIP sponsors reunite with Interns from previous years, and get to know this year’s cohort; we were excited to welcome many of the Assembly Staff who have supported OLIP since its inception; and many of the Independent Officers of the Assembly also made the time to come say hello and show their support.

It was evident to all in attendance that OLIP is greatly admired. In fact, many of our guests refused to leave until well after the food was gone and the bar had closed! Thankfully, our alumni chair planned ahead and we were able to move everyone to our after party at Prenup Pub just down the road where the reunions and celebrations continued late into the night. The evening was truly a testament to the impact OLIP has on so many people’s lives at the Legislature.

As receptions chair, I would be remiss not to say thank you to all those who made the evening possible. In the interest of space I cannot list everyone here, but the teamwork that went into making the evening a success is exemplary of the many talented and selfless individuals that tirelessly work to support OLIP. Thank you all for your hard work – we’ll see you at our next reception!

Up Next on the Interns’ Agenda

It can be heartbreaking to find out that a celebrity or public figure that you once admired is not as nice as they appear to be on TV. Perhaps it’s a sign of that particular humility of Ontario celebrity (the same humility that makes Torontonians insist that Toronto is not a “real” global city like New York or Paris) that the Interns have not yet had this experience with any of the provincial celebrities we’ve met so far. Case in point is Steve Paikin, host of the current affairs program The Agenda, who is exactly as kind, thoughtful and humble as he appears on television – if not more so.

The Interns were fortunate enough to watch Mr. Paikin film the extro to a show at the TVO studio on Yonge Street, and then speak with him for an hour afterwards. Mr. Paikin invited us all to his table on set, insisting that he always looks forward to meeting the Interns. He took particular note of our names so that he could address us by first name throughout our conversation.

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Steve Paikin, Host of TVO’s The Agenda, with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

This is the kind of care that makes Mr. Paikin so good at what he does. He has interviewed authors, politicians, and experts on every topic. Each one of them gets the benefit of a fair and stimulating conversation with Mr. Paikin. This legendary evenness is also the reason that Mr. Paikin has moderated three provincial and three federal leaders’ debates. Like the Interns, Mr. Paikin sees non-partisanship as a requirement for what he does. A good interview requires an open mind, and that is something he excels at maintaining.

The hour with Mr. Paikin flew by, as it so often does on his program. So for the Interns, that’s all for tonight on The Agenda.

A Tasty OLIP Tradition

With a program that has spanned four decades comes a multitude of traditions. This past October, this year’s cohort of OLIP Interns enjoyed the annual OLIP chili luncheon. For a number of years, the Interns have been hosted by former OLIP Intern and Coordinator, Lorraine Luski. Joining Lorraine was her husband, Rick Sage, a former OLIP Coordinator and Honorary Intern as well as their daughter, Linnea.

It is hard to think of a better way to warm up on a cool October day than enjoying a bowl of hot and delicious chili! We were given not one, not two, but three different kinds to pick from (are you getting hungry yet?) Add some fabulous homemade cornbread (thanks Hannah F!) and you’ve got yourself quite the fall feast!

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Lorraine, Rick and Linnea are aficionados of all things chili — and all things Texas! Did you know that the official flower of Texas is the bluebonnet or that the flags of six different nations have flown over the state? Now you do! We learned these facts and more during a fun quiz accompanied by chips, guacamole and fiesta music. Watch out Jeopardy – we could tackle any category about the The Lone Star State!

Our chili was followed by the traditional ‘Intern Game’ where we put our memories and charade skills to the test. Many laughs were shared as we all tried to impersonate everyone from political figures to pop stars!  

We are so grateful to Rick, Lorraine and Linnea for opening their home to us and for expanding our chili palette as well as our knowledge of Texas. I know we all left with wonderful memories! Thank you Rick, Lorraine and Linnea!

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We Remember

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From the grounds of Queen’s Park over to Woodstock and up the Lake Huron shoreline to Southampton, this November 11th, we were honoured to take part in Remembrance Day services across Ontario to pay tribute to our Veterans who served and who continue to serve.

We were able to get a true sense of the great communities we have here in Ontario by standing alongside people of all ages as they observed the two minutes of silence following the Last Post. The cold temperatures did not deter the droves of community members who gathered together to observe the ceremonies. We were moved by the heartfelt observances and community involvement that we were a part of today on this Remembrance Day. Thank you to our Veterans for your bravery, your service and your sacrifice. We remember today and every day. Lest We Forget.