Planes and Trains (but not Automobiles): Building the Canadian Transit Brand with Bombardier

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Everyone is talking transit at Queen’s Park, with huge infrastructure announcements what seems like everyday. That made the timing of our meeting with Pierre Pyun and Alice Trudelle from our sponsor Bombardier especially good! Pierre and Alice took us through the stages of a true Canadian success story, which started out as a small family snowmobile business, and evolved into the transit sector giant that it is today.

Bombardier has become an internationally known and trusted name in rail and air transit, and while it remains proudly Canadian with manufacturing facilities around the country, it has also expanded to locations in other continents, with a major transport HQ in Berlin and 73 other sites across 29 countries. Pierre and Alice candidly shared with us that it has not always been smooth sailing, as Bombardier has struggled to compete in a very competitive global environment, both on the aerospace and the rail side. But with the new C-series Bombardier planes, which have been airborne for the past year, we may be seeing a lot more of the “l’évolution de la mobilité” running the skies.

After flying through Bombardier’s history and the unique challenges of handling government relations for a company that has to consider the connections between its domestic performance and the international market, we continued into a casual conversation on rail transit and where Ontario is headed on that front. As several of our interns lamented, Ontario is woefully behind on extensive, fast rail lines, despite housing a domestic company that services some of the most successful rail transit in the world.

As it always goes with our meetings, too soon we were out of time and we had to bid farewell to our guests and return to our placement offices. Thank you Alice and Pierre for giving us an insider’s look on how Bombardier works, and maybe there is a site visit to your Kingston facility in store for a future cohort!

Remember to return regularly to see our ongoing adventures in the real version of House of Cards.

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Pierre Pyun and Alice Trudelle of Bombardier with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

Engineering Public Affairs Success with PEO

 

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If there are two things that I consistently hear around Queen’s Park it’s that Howard Brown (of Brown & Cohen) is everywhere and Professional Engineers of Ontario throw a darn good reception.

Our ten months at Queen’s Park certainly proved both to be true as we became well-acquainted with Mr. Brown and had the pleasure of attending PEO’s fall reception early on in our tenure at the Pink Palace. That in mind, our meeting with Jeannette Chau of PEO, and Howard Brown and Blake Keidan of Brown & Cohen, was more like a meeting of good friends than our typical sponsor-catch up sort of deal. That’s not to say we didn’t learn a lot, as the opposite is true. Jeannette quickly took us through a bit of PEO’s history and mandate, culminating in their realization roughly a decade ago that they needed to build government relations capacity to get engineers into policy-making. Partnering with Brown & Cohen, PEO established the Government Liaison Program (GLP), a highly successful initiative to bring information and engagement to Queen’s Park and ensure decision-makers are well-informed of the work of engineers and how their industry functions. The GLP quickly expanded with local chapters across the province and started finding innovative ways to bring politics into a historically insular industry. From “take your MPP to work” days, to invitations to town halls and chapter meetings, PEO is a government relations success story, going from relatively unknown in political circles to being a widely recognized stakeholder at Queen’s Park.

After our brief information session, we took a whirlwind tour around the building to see where it all happens. Interestingly to the aspiring lawyers of our cohort, PEO (like other self-regulated professions) has an internal arbitration system for its members, all ran out of their Toronto office, complete with a court-styled hearing room. We also enjoyed some great conversation over lunch graciously provided by our hosts and discussed the recent happenings at the Legislature as well as our future plans with our expiration date not so far off.

Thank you to Jeannette, Howard, and Blake for showing us the inner workings of PEO and for your excellent advocacy for engineers in Ontario. We hope to see more engineers taking up political positions in the future following the work you’ve done to pave the way!

Engineering a Career: A Meeting with the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers

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The Ontario Society of Professional Engineers is the provincial body representing engineers in the province of Ontario. A small, dynamic team, they are certainly no strangers to government, with their mission to focus on public policy and elevate the public profile of all Ontario engineers. They are also no strangers to OLIP, and have been long-time, generous sponsors of the programme. What’s more, OLIP alum Patrick Sackville now leads policy and government relations at the organization, along with his colleague Catrina Kronfli.

We had the opportunity to meet with both Catrina and Patrick to discuss everything political and government relations in the Ontario context. It was a wonderful to hear about the experiences of someone who has been through OLIP and come out the other side, as well as to hear about Catrina’s experiences within the public services. Our alumni and sponsors have always outstanding, never shying away from giving a helping hand, and Patrick and Catrina were no different. We really appreciated the time they both took to talk careers, government and politics with us. We wish them all the best, and want to thank OSPE for their continued support.

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Patrick Sackville and Catrina Kronfli of OSPE with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

 

Stop the Presses! The OLIP Interns Go Behind the Scenes of Metroland Media

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From the communities of Meaford to Mississauga, Metroland Media reaches over 75 per cent of households in Ontario. For countless Ontarians, community newspapers are essential tools which operate as lifelines to local news and events which ultimately help to foster community cohesion.

Thanks to our sponsor, the Ontario Community Newspapers Association (OCNA) and their Executive Director, Caroline Medwell, we were able to learn a lot about the print media industry in Ontario. The Ontario Community Newspapers Association is a well-known non-profit industry association founded in Toronto in 1950 and now encompasses about 300 member newspaper associations across the province. Earlier this year, Ms. Medwell kindly escorted us to Metroland Media where we were able to explore their print houses and learn about how they reach over 5.6 million readers each and every week.

With the journalism industry changing so rapidly, we were fascinated to learn about the changes Metroland Media is making from the frontlines of their newsroom through use of digital media and also how their print publications have grown and continue to expand. In conjunction with our many discussions with members of Metroland’s team, we were able to see first-hand how much work, personnel and logistics it takes to produce GTA papers and package flyers distributed all over the province. As we walked through the mazes of giant paper rolls and climbed the stories-high printing press, we learned how Metroland Media continually does its best to reach each and every one of their customers to get them the news.

Thank you very much to Ms. Medwell and the team at Metroland Media for such a comprehensive and fascinating tour and thank you to the Ontario Community Newspapers Association for your continued support of the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme!

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Ideas in Transit: Meeting with Chris Upfold

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Chris Upfold with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

The Toronto Transit Commission is the third largest transit system in North America, making 1.8 million trips every single day. It operates 69 subway stops, and large fleets of streetcars and buses. There are 20 million TTC tokens in circulation at any one time. With such a complex system, it can be hard to envision how one would even begin to go about administering it.

Chris Upfold, Chief Customer Service Officer for the TTC, has managed to do it for the past six years, despite this daunting complexity. Earlier this year, he sat down with the interns to talk about what goes into managing the TTC, and why transit is such an essential part of so many Torontonians’ lives.

“Transit has this profound ability to give people back time,” he said. Mr. Upfold worked for the London Underground before coming to the TTC. One of his accomplishments while working there was to cut the average wait time to buy an underground ticket from 30 minutes to 3 minutes – so he knows something about saving people’s time.

At the TTC, he has been responsible for initiatives like increasing transparency with the public about how the TTC operates, and improving the quality and maintenance of TTC washrooms. He also spoke with us about some of the more whimsical initiatives of the TTC, like the ‘Sketching the Line’ art project, and the various murals that grace the walls of Toronto subway stations.

He spoke with a passion for transit and public infrastructure that was inspiring to the interns, and even left us with a couple of choice pieces of advice as we prepare to leave the programme:

“When an opportunity presents itself, hit that opportunity hard.”

“Not making a decision is making a decision.”

And, finally and most importantly:

“If you feel like you’re stuck behind a streetcar, get on one!”

A meeting with the Honourable John Baird

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John Baird with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

This past year, we were welcomed with coffee and cookies at Bennett Jones LLP by the Honourable John Baird and his assistant, Michael Ceci. Mr. Baird wanted to be a politician from a very young age, and was initially drawn to provincial politics. We discussed his tenure as a young MPP at Queen’s Park, and then his experience in federal politics as an MP. Mr. Baird wore many hats during his time on Parliament Hill, including time spent as Canada’s Foreign Minister, Minister of the Environment, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. We had the chance to ask him how his experience at Queen’s Park, as an MP, Minister of Community and Social Services, Minister of Energy, and Government House Leader informed his subsequent work as part of the last federal Conservative Government. It was a pleasure to meet Mr. Baird and chat politics with someone who spent the formative years of his political career at Queen’s Park!

Looking Back on London – Our Final Day

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Our final day of meetings in London began with a walk through the picturesque streets of the historic city to the office of the Behavioural Insights Team where we spoke with Tiina Likki and Sophie Davis. We were thrilled to learn about the inception of the Behavioural Insights Team in 2010 and how they have grown to include offices on both sides of the Atlantic. We were fascinated to learn about the psychological, sociological and anthropological lenses that the team use to inform every policy angle.

After our chat with the Behavioural Insights Team, we jumped on the London Underground and resurfaced back up onto the bustling streets of Oxford Circus to Broadcasting House, the iconic home of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Everyone was in awe as we entered the building to see the newsroom that can be seen on televisions worldwide. During our visit, we toured the many floors of Broadcasting House with World Tonight Planning Editor, Marie Helly, and had the opportunity to sit down with Royal Correspondent Peter Hunt, Digital Editor, Nick Sutton and Caroline Hawley who touched on everything from the Royal Family to the complexities of news coverage in our world today.

After departing the BBC, we had the opportunity to exploring the lively surroundings of Oxford Circus before heading back onto the tube to the Department for Exiting the European Union. Here we spoke with the team about the many angles of Brexit and the many issues and complexities that go along with it.

We want to thank Kevin McGuran, British Consul General in Toronto and Director General for the Department of International Trade Canada, Mathieu Blandford, Political and Public Affairs Officer at British Consulate General in Toronto and Shivarni Sharma-Dixit and the rest of the team from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London for creating such a wonderful itinerary which made our trip to London so educational and memorable. Thank you and cheerio!