Wrap-up: Kristen and MPP Cheri DiNovo

My first week in NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo’s office was quite a whirlwind. I quickly had to learn the ins and outs of the many private member’s bills and other initiatives that Cheri has undertaken, ranging from inclusionary zoning to legislation for first responders suffering with PTSD. Having adopted the title “Queen of tri-party bills” for introducing the most bills in the Legislature with support from all three parties, it was a great experience to see how opposition members can significantly influence policy in Ontario. Within the first few days I had written a member’s statement, carried out research for a proposed private member’s bill, conducted meetings with stakeholders and prepared briefing notes on a number of pressing issues.

Unfortunately just a few weeks into my placement my member had to take a brief leave of absence. At first I was unsure how this would change my role here at Queen’s Park – but I very quickly came to realize that my responsibilities had shifted significantly. I was not only responsible for my previous tasks, but also had to fill in for MPP DiNovo in her absence. I was preparing, writing, and presenting speeches on behalf of Cheri, meeting with interest groups, and attending board meetings and other events in the community. Although it involved a very steep learning curve it was a great experience to grow my skill set while obtaining a more comprehensive understanding of the issues relevant to Cheri’s riding and critic portfolios.

After the holiday break and my member’s return I had expected the learning curve to level out. January is often considered a quiet month at Queen’s Park, as the House isn’t sitting and most members are in their ridings. However, with MPP DiNovo’s EA now on maternity leave and a replacement not hired until February, it became my responsibility to take over their role in the office. Over my last two months with MPP DiNovo I was responsible for managing the Queen’s Park operations including most communications on our office’s policy positions. As Cheri is a very active MPP that is passionately dedicated to a wide range of causes, I also had the opportunity to oversee her Girls Government program, attend meetings with Ministers to discuss the advancement of several PMB initiatives, assist with Cheri’s weekly radio show, and helped arrange a town-hall in Cheri’s riding of Parkdale- High Park. Overall, working in MPP Cheri DiNovo’s office was an amazing experience that demonstrated the important influence that our provincial representatives can have, both within their ridings and across the province.

After a great first placement in MPP Cheri DiNovo’s office I am off to my second placement with Liberal MPP John Fraser, the representative for Ottawa-South and the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. I look forward to working on a number of initiatives related to palliative care and scope of practice in Ontario and am excited to learn more about the Committee process, as MPP Fraser is the Chair of the Standing Committee on Government Agencies and a Member on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Check back in a few weeks to see what interesting projects I have undertaken in MPP Fraser’s office, and for my perspective on how working with a government member differs from the opposition!

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