OLIP in Yellowknife: Talking about Parliamentary Procedure with Alyssa Holland


During our time in Yellowknife, we had the privilege of meeting with the Deputy Law Clerk, Alyssa Holland at the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories (NWT). 

When the house is not in session, Alyssa also works as a litigation lawyer in Lawson Lundell’s Yellowknife office with a broad civil litigation practice, focused on administrative and public law. She represents a range of individual, corporate and government clients across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. 

Prior to joining Lawson Lundell LLP, Alyssa served as a judicial law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court of Appeal. In this capacity, Alyssa worked on complex legal issues of national importance in areas including constitutional law, Aboriginal law, administrative law and commercial law, as well as issues arising under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We were pleased to meet with Alyssa to learn more about her career trajectory and discuss the unique style of consensus government in the NWT. We learned that private member bills get farther in this style of governance compared to other legislatures, and how she evaluates legislation to ensure it mirrors the drafting of the bills. Alyssa also spoke to us about the legal challenges facing the NWT: the lack of lawyers in the area of family law, serving distinct communities and low income population, and the difficulty of connecting people with services. 

Thank you Alyssa for this very informative and insightful meeting! We wish you the best of luck in your time at the NWT and hope our paths cross each other one day as some of us progress our careers in the area of public law.


A Discussion with the Premier of Ontario, the Honourable Kathleen Wynne


The interns had been eager to meet the Premier of Ontario, the Honourable Kathleen Wynne.

We met with the Premier in the Council Chambers at Queen’s Park (where all of the Cabinet meetings are held!). While waiting for the Premier, we chatted with the Official Photographer. She discussed one of her favourite events – the Ontario Liberal Party Annual General Meeting – where she took the iconic photo of the Premier’s red Converse shoes.

The general topics included (and not limited): provincial government, the role of the media in contemporary politics, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and intergovernmental affairs. Throughout the meeting, the Premier was very candid.

In addition, we discussed the challenges for women entering politics, and leadership positions more broadly. More specifically, how the media frames female politicians differently than males. We recognized that while social media has the capacity to ignite important social movements, there are also negative elements associated with online hatred. We then shifted from the media, to discuss international relations in the Trump-era. More specifically,  how the Premier ensures that Ontario remains a strong U.S. partner.

Thank you, Premier, for meeting with us! We truly appreciate your advice for our post-OLIP careers.

Discussing Entrepreneurship with Julia Deans, the CEO of Futurpreneur


In January, we met with the fantastic Julia Deans, the CEO of Futurpreneur Canada and an OLIP alumnae.

Julia‘s education and career has taken her from Toronto to New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore. She’s worked as an environmental lawyer, a management consultant, and most recently as the CEO for CivicAction before taking the helm of Futurpreneur Canada.
Futupreneur Canada is a non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring, and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18 to 29. So far, Futurpreneur has helped launch an astounding 8,519 Canadian businesses. We learned that Futurpreneur doesn’t have a “favourite” type of business. They finance a diverse array of business — from bakeries (like the delicious Cake and Loaf in Hamilton) to the trendy Toronto-based fashion retailer, Frank & Oak.
Julia was keen to hear our perspective on Futurpreneur’s initiatives and entrepreneurship policies in Ontario. We spoke about the role of government in encouraging entrepreneurship and supporting marginalized populations in their first steps of establishing a new business. We also discussed the importance of different types and sizes of businesses, including the role that non-profits like Futurpreneur can play in Canada’s small towns, beyond our well-services urban hubs.
It was an enlightening conversation about topics that many of us hadn’t considered before. Thank you greatly to Julia, and the Futurpreneur team, for your warm welcome!

A Journey through Ontario’s Political History with Sean Conway


We were fortunate to meet with former Liberal MPP Sean Conway, who represented the ridings of Renfrew North and Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke from 1975-2003. Mr. Conway served in a number of positions in both government and opposition, most memorably as Minister of Education.

Mr. Conway brought us on a fascinating journey through Ontario’s and Canada’s political histories. The conversation bounced from Oliver Mowat to Louis Riel to Ronald Reagan to Lord Durham. Of particular interest was Mr. Conway’s explanation the changes, decisions, and policies leading from the end of the Bill Davis government through to Frank Miller, David Peterson, Bob Rae, and then Mike Harris. Understanding how parties transition between leaders and also from government to opposition and vice versa are invaluable insights for our future.

Mr. Conway also elaborated on broader issues such as future growth in Ontario, the urban-rural divide, senate reform, and electoral reform. We also took advantage of Mr. Conway’s experience with the energy, education, and skills development files. Of particular interest was the future of postsecondary education and changes in the energy system.

Our meeting with Mr. Conway was informative and captivating. We now understand how 19th century history informs Ontario’s current politics. We also have a new reading list thanks to Mr. Conway’s suggestions. As with many of our meetings, our discussion with Mr. Conway provided us with further motivation to soak up all the information and experiences around us at Queen’s Park.

Thank you to Sean Conway for your continued support of the programme and for lending your time and expertise.

A Meeting with AMAPCEO, a Long Time Sponsor of OLIP

In February, we met for lunch with President Dave Bulmer, Anthony Schein, and OLIP alumnus Ben Rossiter from our long-time sponsors AMAPCEO – Ontario’s Professional Employees.  AMAPCEO is a union of around 14,000 public service employees, most of whom work in the Ontario Public Service.
We were given an informative presentation on the history of the labour movement and evolution of public sector unions and agreements in Ontario.  Our discussion also touched on their advocacy work, protection of members, and negotiation of collective agreements.  We specifically examined alternative work arrangements and past and future policy prescriptions for workers.
Thank you to AMAPCEO for your continued support and interest in the programme.

Balancing the Budget with the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Charles Sousa

On a Thursday afternoon we were fortunate to meet with the Honourable Charles Sousa, the Minister of Finance. Minister Sousa began our meeting by detailing his impressive professional journey in the private sector before making the switch to the public sector and political life. Minister Sousa was inspired to switch to public life as he found himself often engaging more and more in political activities, a need to serve his community and a sense of duty to help those around him. Minister Sousa carries out this responsibility by ensuring key aspects of his mandate such as the annual provincial budget, serves all Ontarians.

Minister Sousa guided us through the various stages and nuances of the budget cycle. We learned how in the allocations phase, the Ministry of Finance takes requests for funding from ministries. In the projection phase, actual costs and expenses of government programs are examined. For example, they are currently looking at the financial impacts of OHIP+ and the cap and trade system. The Premier’s Office and cabinet work closely together, constantly communicating to be on the same page and aligned on the budget. To this end, Minister Sousa regularly takes meetings with his colleagues to understand their funding needs and priorities. One challenge the Minister contends with is that his mandate only allows him to control spending and has little to no leverage on the interest on debt.

When balancing his role as Minister of Finance with his local obligations as MPP for Mississauga South, Sousa stressed the importance of being close to his constituents and the need to go back home to his family.  As he detailed Ontario’s plan to open 40 marijuana distribution stores, he justified this policy due to the enforcement, regulation, control and safety it provides Ontarians. We could not help but chuckle as the Minister made a joke about “becoming the biggest pot dealer in the world”.

Thank you Minister Sousa for meeting with us and answering our questions!

Meeting our Sponsor, OCUFA!

We met with Mark Rosenfeld, Cheryl Athersych, and Brynne Sinclair-Waters from our sponsors OCUFA (Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations).  In correlation with OCUFA’s mandate, we discussed both labour issues for faculty and the future of the university system.
OCUFA provided an overview of their members’ labour interests, precarious work, impacts of Bills 148 and 142, polling, and bargaining.  Of particular interest to us were debates around online education, university participation rates, and university funding and funding models.  We also examined OCUFA’s wide array of publications and policy briefs.
Thank you OCUFA for your continued support of OLIP!