For Those Considering OLIP

This is the time! You can can do it. Only 21 days left until applications for OLIP are due!

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The holidays are over, work is back in full swing, and the house does not sit again until February 19. There are officially only four weeks left until our first placement is over, and we are left wondering where the time has gone.

Since the house has risen, things are comparatively much quieter. This is a time where all political staffers (as well as us, the interns) get the opportunity to catch up on all the work we haven’t had time for when the house was sitting. It is a time of reflection, rest, and planning so that when the house does sit again, we will all be ready!

January is also the time when OLIP does its last push for recruitment. There are plenty of Facebook Live sessions with the interns as well as in-person info sessions at universities accessible by train or car!

For those of you reading this blog, we hope you apply to OLIP or encourage someone you know to apply. To review, this is a 10-month program where interns spend four months staffing a member of government, then another four with a member of opposition. We are with our members from Monday to Thursday, and Friday we save for meetings. We have meetings with numerous officials and sponsors. If you follow along with us on Twitter, you’ll see that we are usually busy on Fridays; we’ve met with the current and some previous premiers, academics, journalists, and many more. In addition, we participate in study tours! We’ve already visited Ottawa as a group and we are looking forward to our next trip to Yellowknife in February. We will also visit Vancouver and London, England in the coming months.

Being an OLIP intern means so many different things to all of us. It’s more than study tours and being around Ontario’s politicians. It’s an experience that includes new friendships, the promise of career opportunities and endless, endless learning (about all aspects of Ontario, our government, and the people who live in this province). This internship is definitely difficult to describe in just a few paragraphs. It’s not always perfect, and each of us deal with hardships in different ways. But this is similar to any job that one finds themselves in. It’s challenging as well as rewarding, and I know that we all feel lucky to be here.

If you are someone who is interested in applying to OLIP, if you haven’t done so already, I suggest attending an info session on Facebook Live, or even reaching out to one of us personally! This is a time for recent graduates that all OLIPers have gone through before, a time of uncertainty for the future and waiting for application results. We’ve been there and we empathize! Speak to an OLIP intern if you have any questions, and we will be ready to give you honest answers.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

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Reflections on our Ottawa Study Tour

Hello! Bonjour! Hi! Salut! It is 2019 and we’re doing a bit of reflecting on our first study tour. 

As is tradition, the interns travelled to Ottawa to visit Parliament Hill. Centre Block, including the House of Commons and Senate Chambers, are being closed down in early 2019 to do renovations for a decade. So our cohort of OLIP interns were one of the last tours to see the Chamber in it’s original glory. Before we go through a summary of our trip to Ottawa, we have to give an enormous thank you to our sister programme – the Parliamentary Internship Programme (PIP) who showed true Canadian hospitality during our visit.

 

WEDNESDAY

We started our day with several cups of coffee and a 6:40am train ticket to Ottawa. Thank you so much to our sponsor VIA Rail for getting us to and from Ottawa safely and reliably during our visit.

Our first stop was a quick tour of Centre Block with PIPs Andrew and Sarah. We then headed into the Speaker’s gallery to watch our first federal Question Period! Identical to the Westminster tradition, on Wednesdays, the Prime Minister answers all of the questions in the Chamber that afternoon. There are some notable differences between Queen’s Park and Parliament’s Question Period (aside from the fact that Parliament has approximately three times as many elected members). For example, the current government has decided that they will not collectively produce standing ovations for members, and that there is more French spoken and highlighted in the House. Afterwards, we met Liberal MP, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith the representative of Beaches-East York. He had some fantastic insights about how rewarding and challenging politics can be.

To finish our evening, the PIPs hosted a welcome pub night and then we watched the inaugural light show at Parliament Hill.

 

THURSDAY

Our day started early as we braved the chilly Ottawa temperatures for our PIP welcome breakfast. We had a full day of meetings including:

Ms Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Seanich – Gulf Islands. In response to how she stays hopeful on climate change initiatives, her answer was simple, “the opposite of hope is despair and I am not prepared to tell my grandchildren that they don’t have a future.”

Luckily, we had the opportunity to sit down with two current members of cabinet. The Honourable Bill Blair provided sage advice from his successful career as Toronto’s Chief of Police to now Minister of Border Security and Crime Prevention. He discussed how his previous experiences in policing and community engagement had prepared him for success in his current role.

Honourable Bardish Chagger is currently the first female ever to be appointed Government House Leader. Throughout our visit, she was bubbling with pride and excitement about her role as an MP.

Progressive Conservative MP, Erin O’Toole, Liberal MP, Adam Vaughn and New Democrat, MP, Scott Duvall shared how they leverage their past experiences, policy passions, and tools as a backbench MP to push forward on issues that manage to them and their communities.

MP for Spadina-Fort York, Adam Vaughn shared his passion and motivation to build better cities for communities. Every MP has a different style when they approach politics, Mr. Vaughn’s is unrelentingly driven in his philosophy that cities are at the heart of every healthy nation.

Taking a break from our elected official visits, we had the opportunity to meet with long – serving public servant, Daniel Watson. He recently moved from his role as CEO of Parks Canada to become the Deputy Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. He enthusiastically told stories about his career working in various provinces and federally. One of the highlights was explanation of the key role that the federal government plays in the day-to-day lives of Canadians.

Our last formal meeting of the day, was meeting the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Honourable Geoff Regan. Having watched Question Period on Wednesday, we know that it can be a difficult job to maintain order during proceedings, but his calm and fair demeanour makes him a great candidate for the job.

We finished our day with “Blood and Guts” tour of Parliament Hill. From exploring the basement of Centre Block where there is an old-fashioned Coca-Cola machine to hearing the histories of some scandalous royals – we saw Parliament Hill in a whole new light! Afterwards, we hosted our Alumni meet up and spent the evening getting to know some of our amazing OLIP veterans!

 

FRIDAY

Our last day in Ottawa was bitter sweet with some fantastic meeting to wrap up. We started our day with the British High Commission before heading to meet Senator Kim Pate. The rest of our morning was divided between Danielle White, the Director General of Sectoral Policy at Indigenous Services Canada, provided some fantastic insight about the tools that all Canadians can use when having conversations around Truth and Reconciliation.

We met with accomplished journalist and reporter, Amanda Connolly who currently works at Global News as a National Online Journalist. She honestly answered our questions about the quick changes happening in journalist writing and where she thinks it will take us in the future. We also met Senator Peter Beahm, who shared anecdotes of his illustrious career in the foreign and public service. We agreed that if we had the chance, we could have spoken with Mr. Beahm for hours, digging deeper and deeper into his accomplishments and experiences.

The rest of our day was spent at the Supreme Court of Canada. We met Justice Andromache Karakatsanis who explained the importance of the judicial system in Canada and the highlights of being a Judge in the highest court in Canada. Afterwards we got a “behind the scenes” tour of the Judges’ area, library and Supreme Court building before heading to our final event – a meet and greet with our generous sponsor the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) and the PIPs.

Overall, we had such a fantastic time in Ottawa! Thank you so much for the Parliamentary Internship Programme for generously hosting us, our fellow intern Jad El Tal for arranging our schedule, and our OLIP Administrative team who give us the resources to plan these events. You can check out all of our photos from Ottawa on our Facebook Page “OLIP Interns” and social media @olipinterns

We also want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy holiday seasons and a safe beginning to 2019. 

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Our Internship Thus Far

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It’s official! We have been in our members’ offices for 5 weeks, and OLIP is in full swing. By now, the interns have learned how their office functions and how to best support their member. We have written member statements, questions, briefings, twenty minute hits in the house, and almost anything else you can think a staffer might write. We have sit in on a range of stakeholder meetings and are learning just how important individuals’ and groups’ voices are in advocating for change. Despite our busy schedules, we make sure to attend the majority of receptions — you will always be able to find at least two OLIP interns at any given reception.

We are cognizant of the fact that time is moving all too quickly. Already one month is gone, and we only have three left until our next placement. Our first study tour to Ottawa is approaching in two weeks. Also, our Fall Reception is one week from today!

This week, we also have the pleasure of hosting the interns from our sister program, the Parliamentary Internship Program (PIP). This is the first time the PIP interns have visited in five years, and it is wonderful to get to know them. We will be seeing them soon when we visit Ottawa.

We are learning a lot and enjoy ourselves during the process. We adore the job, and certainly do not take this opportunity for granted. If anyone is interested in who we are placed with, it is as follows:

  • Braelyn is placed with MPP Norm Miller, Parry Sound-Muskoka
  • Clara is placed with MPP Doug Downey, Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte
  • Hudson is placed with MPP Goldi Gamari, Carleton
  • Jad is placed with MPP Prabmeet Sarkaria, Brampton West
  • Janessa is placed with MPP Ross Romano, Sault Ste. Marie,
  • Linda is placed with MPP Laura Mae Lindo, Kitchener Centre
  • Munisha is placed with MPP Michael Mantha, Algoma-Manitoulin
  • Nikki is placed with MPP Marit Stiles, Davenport
  • Nish is placed with MPP Bhutila Karpoche, Parkdale-High Park
  • Peter is placed with MPP Kathleen Wynne, Don Valley West

 

 

OLIP Meets with CIBC

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Last Friday, on a cold and rainy afternoon, we were warmly greeted by Elisabeth Laratta and Meredith Taylor at the CIBC building in downtown Toronto. Elisabeth and Meredith are both Senior Managers of Government Relations at CIBC, a bank that OLIP is grateful to be sponsored by. During our meeting, Elisabeth and Meredith shared much about the work that they do and what it is like to be in government relations (GR) for one of five big banks in Canada. Both were kind enough to share their unique career paths, and how they ended up working for CIBC. The interns were quite impressed with the amount of experience they both have and what they have accomplished thus far — at such a young age! We learned a lot from both Elisabeth and Meredith, and appreciate the words of advice they gave to us as we start our careers.

 

Thank to Elisabeth and Meredith for taking time out of your busy days to meet with us, and thank you to CIBC for believing in and supporting OLIP.

OLIP Meets with The Churchill Society

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An army officer, painter, writer, and Prime Minister. Of the many roles he was known for Winston Churchill is well-remembered for his work as a Parliamentarian. Accordingly, his work lives on through the Churchill Society, one of OLIP’s proud sponsors that strives for the advancement of Parliamentary Democracy. It was with much delight that we welcomed Corinne Murray and John Parker to our office to learn about the achievements of the man the organization is named after, as well as to engage in a thoughtful discussion about raising awareness among youth with regards to the kind of work they do. Our partnership with the Churchill Society is unlike any other, as every year one member in our group is given the opportunity to serve on their board of the directors, and the cohort is graciously invited to their Annual Award Dinner. We’d like to express our sincerest appreciation for their continued support over the years and very much look forward to seeing them again soon.

OLIP Meets with TD!

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A short time ago, the Interns had the pleasure of sitting down with Gary Clement, Director of Government Relations from TD Bank Group. As a former federal political staffer on parliament hill, Mr. Clement has worked on various notable campaigns such as those of former prime minister’s Kim Campbell Stephen Harper.

As a member of TD Bank Group for 15 years now,  the interns were fascinated to hear about his transition from the public to private sector. Mr. Clement shared with us how the valuable the knowledge we are gaining in government now, can help us in whatever industry we choose to enter later in life. The key is to keep an open mind because there are transferable skills to be absorbed in everything we do.

The last piece of advice Mr. Clement highlighted as the most important, was to be nice and make friends. He stressed that politics is a small world. Getting to know others and form relationships is the best part of the job. In his political life he referenced experiencing the best and worst times with his colleagues by his side.

We want to sincerely thank Gary for his candidness and open discussion about his life in politics. His advice on how engage with people and make lasting relationships and friendships is something we will never forget.

OLIP’s guide to a few of Ontario’s Independent Legislative Officers

Before joining OLIP, many of us weren’t familiar with the nine Ontario Independent Legislative Officers. They include the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the Chief Electoral Officer, the Auditor General of Ontario, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, the Ontario Ombudsman, French Language Services Commissioner, Integrity Commissioner, and the Financial Accountability Officer. Lucky for us, we were able to sit down with several of the officers to hear about their important role in this province. Here is what we learned!

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Ms. Lysyk and her team shared the ins and outs of the auditing process in Ontario. The Auditor General plays an important role as an independent office of the Legislative Assembly. They conduct value-for-money and financial audits of the provincial government, its ministries and agencies. Moreover, they audit organizations in the broader public sector that receive provincial funding, such as universities and colleges, hospitals, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and school boards.

Paul Dube, Ombudsman
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Ombudsman Paul Dube and the deputy Ombudsman, Barb Finlay provided a refreshingly positive perspective how the Ombudsman fulfills their mandate to provide constructive recommendations to government agencies. Although governments and government agencies receive these recommendations, they are under no obligation to follow through on their suggestions although they are usually enforced. However, the Ombudsman is traditionally r the last resort for a complaint and they have their own discretion not to investigate. Mr. Dube and Ms. Finlay encompass a collaborative and supportive environment which manifests in their workplace culture and their proactive communication to Ontarians.

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Francois Boileau is the French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario. He is passionate about fulfilling the office’s mandate to ensure French language services are available to francophones across the province. He is genuinely passionate about expanding that mandate further to help more Ontarians gain access to necessary French goods and services. For example, he is expanding the definition of francophones to include people from diverse ethnic backgrounds who speak French at home. Mr. Boileau also took us through examples of why French language services are important to thousands of Ontarians navigating a government and social systems designed for English speaking people.

Brian Beamish, Information and Privacy Commissioner

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThe Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is tasked with resolving thousands of access to information appeals and privacy complaints every year. To do this, they research, review and approve information practices and provide their recommendations on tabled legislation, policies and programs relating to issues of privacy. The commissioner talked about his offices’ his role in overseeing compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA); which allows the public to request government documents, the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA); which analyses city corporations and school boards and Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA); which supervises the healthcare sector.

We look forward to meeting the remaining Independent Officers in the coming weeks. Be sure to check out the Independent Officers – they are here to support all Ontarians and ensure transparent, accountable governments!