A Meeting with Rob Nicol, Strategy Corp.

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Rob Nicol, Vice-President at Strategy Corp. and a well-known and well-connected member of Toronto’s government relations crowd. Mr. Nicol is no stranger to the political scene. He was the last Director of Communications to former Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Mr. Nicol took us through some of the exciting and eventful experiences he had while handling official communiqués for a head of government and shared stories about his time with the Conservative party. Expectedly, he had very interesting commentary about the relationship between the PMO and the press.

With the 2018 Ontario provincial election looming on the horizon, we got his take on the governing styles of all party leaders and his insights on how the election campaign might unfold. Mr. Nicol also offered us some surprising insights into the current political trends in executive communication styles, and the relationships between political parties and the media.

Like every set of Friday meetings, too soon we were out of time. Thank you Mr. Nicol for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us and we hope to see you at our next reception! Remember to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to keep up with all of our experiences in the Pink Palace!


Throwback Thursday: Our November and December Wrap Up

Three (and four!) down, seven (and six!) to go!

November and December continued the OLIP whirlwind for the interns, with our placements in full swing and many exciting events to fill in the rest of our days.

We began November with our Fall Reception which was a great time to meet past interns and get to know our sponsors and supporters. It was also the perfect place to debut our fall edition of the Queen’s Park Insider magazine (you can check out the digital copy here: https://issuu.com/olipinterns/docs/revised-_olip_fall_2016_mag).

On the placement side of things, the interns kept busy writing member’s statements, preparing questions for Question Period, drafting press releases, researching for Private Member’s Bills and attending meetings with stakeholders and constituents. Some interns even had the chance to visit their member’s ridings during Constituency Week, providing them with a better understanding of local issues and the chance to see the incredible places in the ridings that members proudly boast about.

Back at Queen’s Park, we were able to meet with some of our sponsors, including Enbridge, the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, AstraZeneca, and the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy.  We also met with many former interns who had great insights and incredible post-OLIP experiences to share with us, including Rob Nichol, Von Palmer, Julia Deans, and Jon Feairs.

With November flying by, we took a trip to see what happens when the flight is over, spending an afternoon learning about the customs process with the Canadian Border Services Agency at Pearson Airport.

Speaking of trips, November provided the interns with many memorable trips, including a visit to Brampton to meet with the Honourable Bill Davis, former Premier of Ontario, and as we discovered through the meeting and Steve Paikin’s latest book, Not So Bland After All.

We also had the chance to travel to Quebec City and Ottawa to visit our fellow interns in the National Assembly and on Parliament Hill, thanks to the generous sponsorship of VIA Rail. These trips were a great opportunity to learn more about how government works in other jurisdictions directly from the source – you can read more about these trips in our past blog posts in part one and part two! The trip ended with a reception for the Parliamentary Interns and the Ontario Interns to meet the Board of the Canadian Political Science Association, the fantastic organization that facilitates both the PIP and OLIP programmes.

As the New Year arrives, we look forward to seeing what 2017 has in store for us at Queen’s Park. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, FacebookInstagram and now YouTube to stay up to date on all of our OLIP adventures!

A Meeting with Brett Boadway of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario



We recently had the opportunity to head up to midtown and visit our generous sponsor, the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO). Director of Operations, Brett Boadway greeted us and happily answered all of our questions regarding insurance brokers in Ontario.

IBAO is the trade association for brokers in Ontario through which individual brokers are educated and licensed. They also engaged in advocacy work for the betterment of their industry.

As young professionals with an emerging need for insurance, it was helpful to learn about the three ways you can purchase insurance in Ontario – through an agent, a company, or a broker. There are approximately 12,000 insurance brokers in Ontario, and in small towns across the province, purchasing insurance through a broker is the preferred method.

We head lots of great things about insurance brokers and it was very clear that Ms. Boadway is a fan of the way they do their work. The meeting was so interesting, that one of the interns expressed an interest in becoming a broker herself!



Brett Boadway, Director of Operations of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

Thank you Ms. Boadway and IBAO for the great conversation and for your continued support!

From R&D to the Shelves: Learning How Pharmaceuticals Get to the Market with Our Sponsor, AstraZeneca!


In our ongoing quest to meet with as many people as we possibly can, we caught up with distinguished OLIP alumnus, Jon Feairs, Senior Manager of External Relations at AstraZeneca.

Over the lunch Mr. Feairs kindly brought along for us all, we received some insight into an area many of us do not have expertise in – pharmaceuticals. With his wealth of knowledge of the pharma-industry, Mr. Feairs took us through the process that AstraZeneca goes through to create a drug. It starts with substantial investments in research, development and marketing a new drug for consumers. We hear a lot about “Big Pharma” in the media and our conversation with Mr. Feairs confirmed that the industry is complex and multifaceted.


Jon Feairs, Senior Manager of External Relations at AstraZeneca with the 2016-2017 OLIP interns

Creating new drugs is often an expensive, multi-year process that could result in no return on massive investments if the drug ultimately fails at any number of stages in development and regulation. A drug company may develop 40 new drugs but only have one that meets all of the criteria of a successful pharmaceutical. A successful drug will work as intended, pass the necessary certifications, and not cause any unforeseen issues. It was fascinating to hear about AstraZeneca’s ongoing projects and to look back on Mr. Feairs’ time as an OLIP intern.

Thank you Mr. Feairs and Astra Zeneca for meeting with us and for your continued support of the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme!

From Writing to Real Estate

When we sat down with Christina Blizzard (‘the Blizz’) for a chat in early December we had no idea that she was days away from bidding farewell to her long-held post as Queen’s Park Columnist for the Toronto Sun. We listened intently as Ms. Blizzard described career highlights, a brief history of now defunct Toronto-area newspapers and the importance of writing accessible news stories for the public to read. Our conversation ended on a high note with Ms. Blizzard describing how much she respected the province’s politicians for their hard work, noting that although she had always felt compelled to critique government shortcomings, she has also always respected the leaders at Ontario’s helm.


Christina Blizzard with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

After a quick picture with Ms. Blizzard, we prepared for our second guest of the day: Von Palmer, OLIP alum, and Chief Communications, Government Affairs & Privacy Officer over at the Toronto Real Estate Board. Mr. Palmer shared his insights on Toronto’s red hot housing market and his views on the impact of Vancouver’s foreign-buyer tax. Then we listened as he described how the real estate industry in “The Six” is adapting to the housing supply shortage as well as the rise of millennials, some of whom lack interest in homeownership. Towards the end of our time with Mr. Palmer, the conversation shifted to career advice and tips on life after OLIP. Mr. Palmer reminded us of how lucky we are to be in the 2016/2017 OLIP cohort, commenting on how the programme had inspired him and prepared him for success.  


Von Palmer with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

Thank you to Ms. Blizzard and Mr. Palmer for their time!