OLIP in Ottawa: Three Branches of Government

Minister Chagger:

On our final day in Ottawa, we had the privilege to meet Minister Chagger. While our meeting was brief, Minister Chagger provided a brief overview of her role as Minister of Small Business and Tourism, and as Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

As House Leader, Minister Chagger’s responsibilities include (and not limit): negotiating parliamentary timetables, and becoming knowledgeable about parliamentary procedure. The latter is important, as the House Leader must argue points of procedure before the Speaker.

On a less technical note, Minister Chagger provided encouraged us to “embrace change and more importantly, the unexpected.” In this sense, we are always learning, and using these lived experiences to create effective change.

Supreme Court Justice Karakatsanis

Justice Kara

Throughout our undergraduate and/or graduate degrees, the interns have read decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada (Supreme Court). While we understand the implications of decisions rendered by the Supreme Court, we rarely understand the procedural and/or thought process of a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Thus, having the opportunity to meet with Supreme Court Justice Karakatsanis was both a privilege and an honour,

Justice Karakatsanis was nominated to the Supreme Court by Stephen Harper in 2011. Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Karakatsanis sat on the Ontario Court of Appeal. She explained, “that the nomination to the Court was surprising, and the greatest honour of [her] career.” Nevertheless, Justice Karakatsanis stated, “[no one] goes to law school thinking ‘I want to sit on the Supreme Court’ but instead [you] realize that a judicial career might be well suited, as you progress through your career.”

The Supreme Court is Canada’s hears appeals from the decisions of the higher courts of final resort of the provinces and territories, as well as the Federal Court of Appeal and the Court Martial Appeal of Canada. Its jurisdiction is derived mainly from the Supreme Court Act and assures uniformity, consistency and correctness in the articulation of legal principles throughout the Canadian judicial system. Moreover, the Supreme Court serves Canadians by deciding legal issues of public importance, thereby contributing to the development of all branches of law applicable within Canada.

Justice Karakatsanis discussed the relationship between the Supreme Court and the other orders of government, and noted the strength of all three orders. The three levels of government routinely communicate.

We would like to thank Justice Karakatsanis for meeting with us.

Senator Mitchell


We had the privilege to meet Senator Grant Mitchell. Since his appointment to the Senate in 2005, Senator Mitchell has served on a number of Senate Committees: as the Deputy Chair of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, Deputy Chair of the National Security and Defence Committee, member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, National Finance Committee, Agriculture and Forestry Committee and the Subcommittee on Senate Communications.

In addition, Senator Mitchell was appointed to the position of Government Liaison in the Senate in May 2016. As Government Liaison he is one of 3 members of the government representative team in the Senate, responsible for helping guide government legislation through the Upper Chamber whilst advocating for a transparent and accountable Senate that works for Canadians.

In our meeting, Senator Mitchell indicated that he is an advocate for Senate modernization, and takes a proactive role in contributing to Senate reform. He argued that a transparent and effective Senate, “represents all Canadians.”

In response to advocates of abolishing the Senate, Senator Mitchell argued, “the state of Canadian democracy would be questioned, and MPs would be given even greater power, without a check-and-balance.”

Thank you Senator Mitchell for meeting with us.