To a person who has not spent significant periods of time in and around the Ontario Legislature, it appears to be a complicated and even mysterious place. There are official procedural rules, unofficial tendencies and trends, historically based traditions, and dramatic transitions and shifts. Some of these factors can be learned from books, while others only become familiar through first-hand observation and experience. As a new member of OLIP, the nuances of Queen’s Park as a whole, and the role of an intern in particular, seemed complicated. How would I know where to turn should an MPP ask me to conduct research? What if they asked questions about parliamentary procedure?
Fortunately for me, and all the new interns, orientation provided the answers to many questions. Our various meetings with the employees of the Legislative Library clarified what resources would be available to us, and made me eager to make use of them. A visit to Hansard offered insight into their valuable role tracking all the legislature’s activities, and also gave us a chance to see a particularly beautiful part of the Ontario government buildings. Meetings with the Clerks of the legislature made the enigmatic world of parliamentary procedure more clear. They also led me to check out a thousand-page book on the subject, having realized that knowledge of procedure was highly valued and useful. The various formal and informal conversations that we held with former interns also offered a clear idea of what our role would be in the offices of MPPs, and how best to fulfill the requirements of that position. They also gave the new batch of interns lots to talk about amongst ourselves, particularly, for example, concerning future travel plans, and preferences on which legislatures to visit in North America.
More than anything else, the feature that stood out to me throughout orientation activities was the absolute kindness and friendliness with which everyone treated me and the other new interns. Whether employees of the legislature itself, former interns, politicians past or present, program sponsors, members of the press gallery, or anyone else involved in the first weeks of the new OLIP year, everyone went out of their way to offer useful advice, and to make us feel welcome. Meeting with all these enthusiastic people has only furthered my desire to get into the MPP offices and put all their great tips, guidance and information to good use!