Over the past month or so, as the buzz at the Legislative Assembly was increasing and the work in our offices intensified for the end of the year, we still had the opportunity to meet with interesting people within the political realm.
First was our meeting with Paul Martin, one of the most notable of the year. Having the opportunity to meet a former Prime Minister was fascinating to say the least. We also had the chance to ask him questions about his time as Finance Minister and about his current work with indigenous populations. The timing of our meeting with Mr. Martin was opportune as both the federal and provincial budgets had just been tabled and we could pick his brain about his impressions of them as well as the budget process in general.
We also had the pleasure of meeting with Ontario’s first Financial Accountability Officer, Stephen LeClair. Although he is still establishing the office, Mr. LeClair graciously agreed to meet with the OLIP interns. Our meeting with him provided us with an inside glimpse into the establishment of the office, the first glimpse of what his mandate is, and how he envisions implementing it. As the newest Officer of the Ontario Legislature, Mr. LeClair hopes that his office can provide both transparency and education surrounding the budget process.
Over the past few months we have had the opportunity to interact with Samara on multiple occasions, whether at an Equal Voice Event, Parliament 2015, or other political science events around the city. It was a real pleasure to finally have the interns visit Samara’s Toronto office to discuss the wonderful work they are doing. Speaking with the Executive Director Jane Hilderman and Communications and Development Manager Jenn Phillips, we reviewed Samara’s Democracy 360 report card, the results, and the methodology behind the study. Our meeting with Samara has no doubt inspired us to work towards improving our parliamentary systems and encourage greater political engagement.
Finally, just this week we met with Michael Bryant. His energetic, honest and reflective personality made for a great meeting. As former Attorney-General under Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal Government, it was interesting to hear about the salient issues during this time. Furthermore, his passion from his political life regarding social justice still remains. Mr. Bryant keeps himself busy being a father, working with non-profits related to poverty and homelessness, and providing consulting services with Ishkonigan Consulting & Mediation. Mr. Bryant gave some wise words of advice to the interns: if we are interested in running for political office, decide to do it when we’re young so we have a youthful energy and outlook on policy issues!