A key goal that the programme has in mind while orienting us interns is to ensure that we meet as many key players of the legislature as possible: from the Speaker, to party leaders, to the clerks, and all the way to the independent officers of the legislature. Thus it wasn’t long before we met our first independent officer: Irwin Elman, the provincial advocate for children and youth. He was kind enough to invite us up to his office and give us an overview of how the office was established, and the kind of work he does on a daily basis.
After the legislation passed in 2007, Mr. Elman was appointed the first ever Ontario provincial advocate, and he’s been working on elevating the voice of children and youth across the province ever since. It was an incredibly fascinating discussion about how the rights of some in our province – children and youth – are sometimes marginalized, unintentionally or not. We were also fortunate to hear from a few people that worked in his office about the projects they’ve been working on. The meeting worked well coming after our own discussion about how to advocate with Ryan Clarke, and it was clear to see how passionate Mr. Elman was about his job. We’re certain we’ll be hearing more from this provincial advocate as we move along through the year.
We then returned to our office building to meet with John Wilkinson, a former MPP who alternately served as Minister of Research and Innovation, Minister of Revenue, and Minister of Environment. This was another fascinating discussion, especially being able to compare his career path after leaving office with Steve Peters’ own path. There certainly is no one thing that all past politicians do once out of Queen’s Park, and it was great hearing from Mr. Wilkinson about how he first got involved. In this instance, it was never his foremost goal to get involved in politics, and yet he ended up getting elected and becoming a Minister within multiple departments anyway – while enjoying every minute of it. For those of us who already have the “political bug” in us, it was a great perspective listening to a former Minister and we were very happy to have him join us for a short period of time.