Talking Ontario Energy with Enbridge

It’s hard to escape the topic of Ontario energy while working at Queen’s Park these days. Whether it’s the rise in hydro prices or the political fallout from cancelled power generation contracts, everyone is talking about energy. If you don’t have a background in the subject, it can all seem a bit overwhelming and arcane, which is why it was fantastic to get brought up to speed in our meeting with our sponsor, Enbridge Gas Distribution. David Donovan, an OLIP alumni, now Senior Government Relations Advisor, and Tanya Bruckmueller, External Communications Manager, from Enbridge were kind enough to stop by Queen’s Park and give us an insider take on energy in Ontario.

Headquartered in Calgary, Enbridge is a leading energy company in Canada, focused on transportation, distribution, and generation of energy. Enbridge operates the longest crude oil and liquid hydrocarbon transport network in the world and holds a major stake in the oil and natural gas industries of Canada. As David explained to us, the increased push to “green” energy has also made Enbridge an innovator; the company is working on a number of eco-friendly solutions to power provision.


It was fascinating to hear the industry side of the hydro situation in Ontario, as well as learn some of the factors not widely known to the public, including the logistical and capital problems that would be involved in expanding Enbridge’s network and the debates around how to upgrade Toronto’s electricity grid. As we learned, changing the power source of a community is not as simple as laying a few new pipes down.

After having a great, in-depth conversation on how Enbridge is securing its place as an energy leader in Ontario, we retired to the Wickson Social House for a few refreshments, some reminiscing from David about his time as an intern, and great stories from Tanya’s work in media (including an anecdote about working with Rob Ford). Thank you to Enbridge, David, and Tanya for your support and we hope to see you soon!


David Donovan, Senior Government Relations Advisor and Tanya Bruckmueller, External Communications Manager at Enbridge Gas Distribution with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

Make sure to follow us on social media (FacebookTwitter & Instagram) and keep refreshing our blog to stay up to date on our exploration of Ontario politics!

The Churchill Gala: Reflections from the Head Table



“A love for tradition has never weakened a nation,” and in true OLIP tradition, the interns once again spent an evening celebrating Sir Winston Churchill and his many quotes and quips at the annual gala held in his honour by the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy. The evening was filled with great music, delicious food, and engaging conversation with the many attendees.

It was an honour for us to volunteer at the gala, which included remarks by Peter Mansbridge and the evening’s honouree, The Honourable R. Roy McMurtry, a former minister with the Davis government and the past Chief Justice of Ontario. Mr. McMurtry has a strong history as a rights advocate, particularly with his ruling that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms must guarantee equality for same-sex couples. He was an excellent choice for the award for Excellence in the Cause of Parliamentary Democracy.

Churchill’s idea of a good dinner was to discuss good food, and, after this good food had been discussed, to discuss a good topic—with himself as the chief conversationalist. Had Churchill been at the dinner, it likely would have lived up to his expectations.

Thank you once again to the Churchill Society for inviting us to participate in such a wonderful evening and for their continued support of OLIP. If you would like to learn more about the Society and their upcoming events, check out their website at


The Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy annual gala was a great opportunity for the interns to rub shoulders with some of Ontario’s greatest legal and political minds.

The head table this year was packed with super-stars from the municipal and judicial levels of government, including Chief Justice George Strathy among others. Roland McMurtry was the guest of honour for the evening, and gave an impassioned speech which spanned his long and distinguished career on the judicial bench, including his landmark decision legalizing same sex marriage.

Peter Mansbridge also spoke that evening, delivering a witty and personal address that added some levity to the evening, as well as reminding us all of the importance of always working to strengthen the fragile foundations of democracy.

Many thanks to the passionate and dedicated team from the Churchill Society for their great success in running the gala and for including us in this special evening. We appreciate their continued support of the OLIP programme and look forward to collaborating further in the New Year.


Innovation that is Out of This World: Our Visit to the MaRS Discovery District

The future of Canada rests with the budding entrepreneurs of today who strive to create the successful businesses of tomorrow. Just down the street from Queen’s Park is the MaRS Discovery District, the fascinating innovation hub filled with the entrepreneurs whose ideas have helped to transform the world around us.

Our tour began in the impressive atrium located on the corner of College and University and was led by Janet Grant, Director of Events at MaRS Discovery District. Ms. Grant spoke to us about the relatively new idea of “urban innovation hubs” and how facilities like MaRS can provide a common space for the entrepreneurs, academics, government agencies, researchers and corporate entities to interact in an effort to help their creative ideas come to fruition in the real world.


Janet Grant, Director of Events at MaRS Discovery District with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

The atmosphere in the building was electric; we had just come in at the perfect time to witness a conference of entrepreneurs in action. Conventions like this are meant to help facilitate the exchange of ideas across different business sectors that would otherwise not intersect. An entrepreneur might have a wonderful idea, but they may feel like they’re toiling in obscurity. Perhaps they are in need of financing, a listening ear, office space, research facilities or room for an event — this is where MaRS steps up to the plate.

In addition to helping business ventures get off the ground, they also mentor the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Ms. Grant and others on our tour spoke to us about Studio Y – a fellowship, which gives young people from across Ontario the chance to help problem solve across five major sectors from healthcare to the environment and manufacturing. In Queen’s Park, we often speak about the importance of breaking down silos in order to collaborate across sectors and it was fascinating to see how MaRS is doing just that.

Thank you to Ms. Grant for taking the time to show us around the MaRS Discovery District and talk to us about how MaRS is helping Ontario and Canada make inroads in the global marketplace.

Advice from a Legend: Meeting the Honourable William G. Davis, the 18th Premier of Ontario

On a brisk November morning, the OLIP interns piled into two cars and drove to Brampton to meet former Premier — and legend — The Honourable William G. Davis. From the moment Mr. Davis warmly welcomed us into his law office he was off and running, regaling us with stories of the repatriation of the constitution, the Big Blue Machine, and teaching a young Justin Trudeau the rules of Canadian football.

During our time with Mr. Davis, he judiciously went around the table, allowing each of us to ask him a question. With the pressure on, we were able to each deliver smart questions, which Mr. Davis would answer by way of anecdote. A great storyteller, Mr. Davis gave us a view of what provincial politics looked like during his fourteen years as premier! And, while some of his experiences were quite different than those we see today, the motivations of people who enter politics remain the same.


OLIP Interns with The Honourable William G. Davis, 18th Premier of Ontario

At the end of our time with Mr. Davis, he asked us all whether we would be interested in becoming MPPs one day. With the polished practice of a group of non-partisan interns, we all hesitated to answer, giving Mr. Davis the perfect opportunity to provide us with advice we won’t soon forget. He said, “if you don’t try to make Ontario better, you’re missing your obligation”.

Our meeting with Mr. Davis gave all us all the opportunity to reflect on our potential as politicians, civil servants, and contributors. His advice was inspiring, thoughtful, and genuine and it was a pleasure to spend our morning with him. From all of the OLIP interns, thank you very much for your time Mr. Davis!

Behind Closed Doors at the Canadian Border Services Agency

OLIP interns being brought into the back rooms of the Toronto Pearson International Airport by Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA)…In most cases this situation would be unpleasant, but thankfully we were not suspect travellers being brought in for questioning — the OLIP interns were able to get the behind-the-scenes tour of Pearson Airport with agents Morgan and Griffin!

Before our tour, we had our own particular ideas of what went on behind closed doors of Canada’s largest airport and third largest airport in North America. Seeing the apparatus that ensures over 100,000 passengers make it safely to their destination every day through Pearson was impressive to say the least. Morgan and Griffin showed us the different checkpoints that a passenger might go through on an average day such as customs and immigration services, as well as one that no passenger wants to be in — the drug and illegal contraband check.

The visit to Pearson Airport gave the interns a new appreciation for what the CBSA puts in place to protect all travellers flying into and out of Canada. We also discussed increased security at airports since major global events such as 9/11, and how this has changed the inner-workings of the CBSA. It was fascinating to learn what an average day looks like for a CBSA agent. We thank the CBSA for having us, and a special thank you to agents Morgan and Griffin for showing us around!

Taking a Closer Look at Our Political System with Samara Canada

Earlier this term, we had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with Samara’s Executive Director Jane Hilderman, and MP Exit Interviews Project Manager Christina Vietinghoff, in their beautiful office space on Prince Arthur Road. Both Jane and Christina are alumna of the Parliamentary Internship Programme in Ottawa, so we were automatically in good company. Most of us were familiar with Samara’s work, and everyone was eager to learn more.

Through research and education, we learned that Samara is committed to reconnecting citizens to politics and strengthening Canadian democracy. They have been doing just that since their establishment as a non-partisan charity in 2009. And to date, they have produced numerous research reports on a range of topics, from electoral reform to the impact of young voters in the 2015 federal election. Samara is perhaps best known for their “Everyday Political Citizen” awards, and for crafting the 2014 book, Tragedy in the Commons, from eighty exit interviews with former Members of Parliament. Christina is currently orchestrating a new round of exit interviews, and we can’t wait to see what the results of this initiative will be. Our vote is for a podcast!


2016-2017 OLIP Interns with Samara’s Executive Director, Jane Hilderman and MP Exit Interviews Project Manager, Christina Vietinghoff

As political nerds, it is easy for the ten of us to discuss challenges facing our political system and democracy, but it’s much harder to find solutions to those challenges. It’s not difficult to see why so many people, MPs and citizens alike, eventually give up on our system and throw their hands up in defeat. With the work Samara is doing however, it’s reassuring to know that there are people out there whose daily work consists of learning about those challenges and finding innovative ways to encourage everyone to take responsibility for our political system and change it for the better.

Thank you Jane and Christina for a warm welcome and interesting discussion!


Venturing North of the 49th Parallel: A Look Back at the Ohio Interns’ Visit to the Big Smoke!


Earlier this term, we had the pleasure of hosting the interns from the Ohio Legislature during their first visit to Queen’s Park! After last year’s OLIP cohort had the opportunity to go down to Ohio to visit our American counterparts, we were able to return the favour and help them learn about Ontario politics during their visit to Queen’s Park.

The Ohio Legislature interns complete their placements with the State Senate or Congress and are predominantly partisan, with only a few nonpartisan members. They are also allowed (expected actually) to help campaign, so their visit was poignantly placed between the US election and Game 7 of the World Series (sorry Cleveland fans).

It was fascinating to hear about the interns’ different political viewpoints and experiences that they had developed while working in such a vast array of offices throughout the Ohio Legislature. As they pointed out, while they may be working in different offices, they are all in the same boat and aim to focus on their common interests and shared experiences.


While in Toronto, the interns visited with the Speaker of the House as well as representatives from Ontario’s legislature and the parties and press gallery who operate within it. The interns also had the opportunity to sit in the House to watch Question Period. But any visit to Queen’s Park and Toronto would not be complete without some socializing, so we made sure to take the Ohio interns out for a bite to eat and a chance to swap stories of our experiences in politics.

While we are approaching the halfway point of our internships, our new Ohio friends are coming to the end of theirs. We hope to see a least a few of them when we visit the Buckeye State in the future. Make sure to follow us here and on social media for our continuing adventures as we move forward into the new year!