Ottawa: Comparative Study Visit Part 2

On Friday morning, we met with the Conservative MP for Simcoe-Grey, Ms. Kellie Leitch. We chatted with her about the transition from her career as an orthopaedic surgeon to operation on Parliament Hill. Although a new MP, Ms. Leitch has been active with the party for many years, notably authoring the current government’s Children`s Fitness Tax Credit which was introduced in 2006 and chairing numerous campaigns, including at the provincial level. Her position as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour has already thrust her in the public eye, as she was the main point of contact for the government’s handling of the asbestos-exports file. It isn’t hard to see why Ms. Leitch has been called “a rising star” within the party.
We also met with another ‘star’ that day – Supreme Court Justice Maurice Fish. A last-minute addition to our schedule, Justice Fish was gracious enough to host us within the court itself for a short meeting. He gave us an overview of the technical workings of the Supreme Court and answered a few questions from the budding lawyers among us.
At the American Embassy, we were greeted by a panel of representatives from the public affairs, trade, consular, and political and military affairs sections. We discussed the importance and uniqueness of the Canada-U.S. relationship as well some specific issues such as softwood lumber, banking regulations, counter-terrorism and the war in Afghanistan. The visit was a welcome balance to our otherwise Canadian agenda.
Back on Parliament Hill, we were honoured to be invited into the opposition parties’ lobby by a member of the staff of the Liberal Whip’s office. We talked about some of the sticks and carrots at the whips disposal and how this role changes depending on the number of the party’s seats in the house.
One of the most interesting meetings we had, in my opinion, was with Stephen Lecce, Deputy Director of Communications in the Office of the Prime Minister. Stephen gave us a presentation on how to communicate effectively in the political sense. His advice was based in real life examples in recent communication triumphs as well as challenges. That fact that Stephen is our peer was all the more impressive!
Our last official day of visits in Ottawa was rounded out with a meeting with The Hill Times journalist Tim Naumetz, with whom we discussed some of the top political issues of the day. Thus ended our action-packed stay in Ottawa. Saturday, we had the day off to enjoy the offerings of the capital a little bit and recuperate before the long drive to Quebec City the following day!


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