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!

Providing a Voice – Ryan Clarke, Advocacy Solutions

As young leaders, we are constantly encouraged to find our passion and look for opportunities to galvanize others to drive change with us. Mr. Ryan Clarke, President of Advocacy Solutions, aspires to give everyone the tools to become an advocate for their own passion. His team provides necessary resources to organizations and individuals to become the most impactful proponents of change in their communities. OLIP is proud to be sponsored by such an inspiring organization and have the opportunity to learn from Mr. Clarke’s expertise.

In a condensed module, we learned about the power of storytelling as a key ingredient to changemaking. Mr. Clarke shared lessons of perseverance through his own journey starting as a family lawyer, moving into politics and eventually becoming President of his own company with speaking initiatives across the country. One of the most fascinating parts of his discussion was his distinction between advocacy and activism. He described advocacy, as a fact driven, sustained pursuit towards change and activism as an emotionally driven means for  reform. With this difference in mind, he suggested that the key to achieving your advocacy goal, is to ensure a succinct “one ask” that clearly identifies to your audience your overall need.

The most powerful advocates are those that have a personal connection and story to tell. Thank you so much, Mr. Clarke for sharing yours, we will be sure to keep our “one ask” in mind as we start our own journeys at the Legislature this year. We sincerely appreciate all of your support to the OLIP programme and taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with us.


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The Interns are BACK with our first sponsorship meeting

The interns are back! The 2018/2019 OLIP year has begun, and we are so incredibly grateful and excited to have this opportunity. We hit the ground running on September 5, and we have been in (what seems to be) nonstop meetings ever since. So far, we love it! Come follow along on our journey to see how this year unfolds.

Our first sponsor meeting was with Tim Smitheman, Senior Government Affairs Advisor of Enbridge. We met Tim at the Union Gas, Enbridge office in downtown Toronto and were blown away by his candidness and energy. As a former political staffer, Tim had a wealth of knowledge to share with us about government relations as well as the energy sector. He was so patient with us as we asked several questions about the energy sector, and he was able to communicate some of its complexities in a more accessible way. Throughout the meeting, there was much laughter and sharing. One piece of advice that stuck with us is to use this internship as an opportunity to foster relationships and friendships. The business of government relations (GR) only works when there is a network of trust amongst colleagues, and this, perhaps, includes making connections across party lines. Even if one isn’t working in GR, Queen’s Park is an exceptional place to meet new friends and mentors. 

We want to thank Enbridge for welcoming us to your office and, of course, for being an invaluable sponsor to OLIP.


A Meeting with Landslide Ernie (The Honourable Ernie Eves)


We were all excited to meet Ernie Eves, the last premier we needed to meet to have met all the living premiers in Ontario. Reflecting on all of our past meetings with premiers, we noticed that each premier had a distinct leadership style and often contrasted their leadership styles with other premiers which added interesting insight to understanding Ontario’s overall political history.

Eves was born in Windsor, to a working class family. A lawyer by training, he first got elected to Parry Sound in 1981 by a margin of only six votes, giving him the name of “landslide Ernie”. Eves stressed politics often has more close victories than one would think and every voter counts.

Under Miller, Eves held multiple portfolios from Provincial Secretary for Resources Development to Minister of Skills Development and even Minister of Community and Social Services. When we asked, Eves was very proud of his work on the Native Affairs file, especially his work on the historic move in Ontario to recognize native self-government.

Under Harris, Eves was Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier. As all the interns are very interested in the Harris years, we spent a great deal of time discussing them and Mr. Eves very candidly explained the rationale and fallout of major decisions of the Harris government. Since energy policy was and continues to be a hot button file in Ontario’s political discourse, we had a discussion on the themes in energy policy and where Mr. Eves sees the file going in the future.

Naturally, since the Ontario 2018 budget was revealed, we asked Eves his opinions on it. We discussed balanced budgets and budgets in deficit. More importantly, we also discussed the public perception of the provincial budget and government spending. Throughout our meeting, Eves’ passion for his opinions stood out and we found it fascinating.

Thank you Mr. Eves for the great discussion and taking the time to meet with us!