A Wide A-Rae of Experience: Our Meeting with the Honourable Bob Rae

Bob Rae

The Honourable Bob Rae with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

One of the incredible opportunities of the OLIP experience is the chance to sit down with some of the most influential figures in Ontario and Canada. Needless to say, Bob Rae, the 21st Premier of Ontario, was high on our list of people we’d like to meet.

Mr. Rae was the fourth former Premier we met with and he provided unparalleled insight into his own career and Canadian politics at large. We heard about his early days as a federal MP, his progression to leader of the Ontario NDP, and his many hard fought election campaigns in between. He recounted the conception of the Liberal-NDP Accord that followed the 1985 election, resulting in David Peterson becoming Premier and the end of the 42-year Progressive Conservative dynasty in Ontario. And of course, the period from 1990-1995 was of particular interest to us, for those were the years Bob Rae was Premier after leading the NDP to win an election nobody thought they could.

But Bob Rae’s career in politics did not end there.

It was comforting to hear about Mr. Rae’s transition to becoming a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, (and eventually interim leader). Often throughout this internship it has been difficult to reconcile a passion for public service with the restraints of partisan politics. However, Bob Rae’s experience taught us that with conviction, courage, and authenticity we always have the power to adapt to evolving circumstances and, as interns, to our developing beliefs. It is with this in mind that we continue to discover how we all fit into the world of public service, now and in the future.

Thank you for sharing your story, Mr. Rae.

A Labour of Love: Our Meeting with AMAPCEO

AMAPCEO_Dave Bulmer AMAPCEO President & Ben Rossiter_Jan 20 2017

Dave Blumer and Ben Rossiter of AMAPCEO with the 2016-2017 OLIP interns

We recently had the privilege of visiting our long-time sponsor AMAPCEO (the Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario), a union of professional employees for the public service that represents over 13,000 individuals. The interns were treated to a luncheon by AMAPCEO President Dave Bulmer, Executive Assistant Anthony Schein, and 2003-2004 OLIP intern, Ben Rossiter. During our lunch meeting, we learned about the history of AMAPCEO, which represents public sector workers such as economists, policy researchers and architects, among others.

During our meeting, we discussed the history of the labour movement here in Ontario and the pillars that structure labour relations all while learning about what AMAPCEO does on behalf of its members. As constant advocates for the employees they represent, AMAPCEO has made gains in negotiations that include and go beyond everything from pay increases to improving the quality of its members’ workplaces. AMAPCEO’s negotiation strategy focuses on shared interests at the negotiating table, which is quite a skill when negotiations for some can be perceived as all or nothing.
Thank you AMAPCEO for taking the time to meet with us and for your continued support of the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme!

Estee Lauder: As Good As It’s “Made Up” to Be


Tucked away in a nondescript building on a nondescript street in Markham, Ontario, is an innovative Canadian company. This company hires Canadian workers in its manufacturing plants, exports 80% of its product, and has been busy acquiring and scaling up small enterprises since the 1970s.

The company is Estee Lauder. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Founded by Josephine Esther Mentzer in 1946, Estee Lauder is the foremost Canadian makeup company. It has acquired and manufactures MAC Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown and Smashbox Cosmetics, among many others.

The interns were lucky enough to take a guided tour of the company’s lipstick manufacturing line, and even had the opportunity to make a sample lipstick ourselves. We were impressed by the dedication to quality and safety displayed by everyone working on the floor. One employee, John, even read us a poem about safety that he had recited on the company’s PA system earlier that day.

The interns got to try their hand at colour matching to see how good their eye for colour was (congratulations to intern Alex for being the only one with a perfect score!) and came away with a much better understanding of how this important sector of Canada’s manufacturing industry contributes to Ontario’s economy. Everyone we met at Estee Lauder  inspired us to embrace the values of cooperative learning, social engagement and sustainability in our work, as they do.

Thank you, Estee Lauder, for showing us around, and for your continued sponsorship of the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme. A special thank you as well to Lorinda Loftonbrook, Campbell and Karim for their informative presentation.

We’ll leave you with a quote by Leonard Lauder, Chairman emeritus of The Estee Lauder Companies Inc., that is displayed proudly on a wall at Estee Lauder:

“In good organizations, every role is essential to mission success, and every individual can be great by shining in his or her role. When people share a mission and know how much they matter, they will strive for excellence and distinction, up and down the line.”

Riding into the Future with VIA Rail Canada

VIA Rail Jacques Fauteux

Jacques Fauteux, Lt. – Cmdr. (retd), the Director of Government and Community Relations for VIA Rail Canada with the 2016-2017 OLIP Interns

Last week, we had the opportunity to meet Jacques Fauteux, Lt.-Cmdr. (retd), the Director of Government and Community Relations for VIA Rail Canada. During our time with Mr. Fauteux, he impressed upon us the lessons he learned as a member of the Canadian Navy as well as his years as a staffer on Parliament Hill. Breaking rank from our traditional blog posts, we’d like to share with you Mr. Fauteux’s “Guide to Succeeding in Politics (and Life).”*

Step 1. Making it hard for yourself is how you learn.

Step 2. Be loyal and be willing to give fearless advice. Can you say what your boss needs     to hear?

Step 3. Become an active listener; “if you’re talking too much, you have nothing to say.”

Step 4. The recipe for success involves imagination, guts, and a willingness to make mistakes (and learn from them, of course).

As Director of Government and Community Relations at VIA Rail, Mr. Fauteux has taken these lessons and applied them to their growing Crown Corporation. In the coming years, VIA Rail is seeking to build an integrated network of transportation. Through their high-frequency, dedicated tracks plan, they intend to make train travel quicker and easier in the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City transit corridor (this would mean that a (nearly) four-hour trip between Ottawa-Toronto would be shortened to two-and-a-half hours! The transportation geeks among us view, VIA’s innovative future plans as exciting and a welcome change in Canada.

Our meeting with Mr. Fauteux also provided us with the opportunity to thank VIA Rail for coming on as one of OLIP’s newest sponsors. Their in-kind sponsorship helped to cover our travel costs during our fall 2016 study tour to Quebec City and Ottawa. Travelling by train made our trip hassle-free and saved us the stress of driving, which was appreciated during our busy week of meetings with MNAs, MPs, journalists, clerks, and Senators. Thank you VIA Rail, for your support of youth participation in Canada’s democratic institutions!

*This guide was compiled from Mr. Fauteux’s fantastic sound bites.

Meeting McGuinty: A Chat with the 24th Premier of Ontario


OLIP Interns with Dalton McGuinty, 24th Premier of Ontario

“I’m not a politician”.

A phrase we interns heard all too often in our MPP interviews earlier this fall. Whether it was a tactful way to separate themselves from the pack or a damaging defence of their current profession, it does nothing to remedy the negative public image of politicians. That image, in my mind, has consistently improved since the start of the internship. After countless hours of observation and interaction with the Members of the Ontario Legislature, I have found that they are true public servants in every sense of the term.

However, no one is more vulnerable to developing an unfavourable image than a political leader. In our meetings with former Ontario premiers, the pervasive theme of leadership and the responsibility that accompanies governance has consistently been a topic of discussion. Our meeting with former Premier Dalton McGuinty was no different.

In our meeting, Mr. McGuinty discussed major changes to today’s political landscape, such as the march of globalization and a decided descent into partisanship. While he admires the collision of ideas in the legislature, he urged politicians to not attack their own category and to remain collegial with one another. Drawing from his experience as leader of a party and of a province, Mr. McGuinty advised us to view leadership as service to others. His parting words of wisdom were for us to always value character more than our reputation, and to always act with conviction instead of doing what is convenient.

We would like to thank Mr. McGuinty for carving out time to meet with us and answer our many and varied questions. For me, the most notable element from our meeting occurred as we escorted him to and from our meeting room in the Whitney Block. As we walked the halls, Mr. McGuinty stopped on two occasions to talk with security guards. To watch the former premier enthusiastically greet the two guards and to watch them talk with such familiarity and reverence was very heartening to see. It was an exchange, Mr. McGuinty, that if I may say showed great character!

Thank you.

A Queen’s Park Pep Talk with Martin Regg Cohn


Martin Regg Cohn with the 2016-2017 OLIP interns

We recently sat down with the Toronto Star’s Martin Regg Cohn, who treated us to his annual Queen’s Park pep talk. It was a great opportunity to speak with someone who follows Ontario’s political happenings as closely as we do.

We heard an interesting perspective on the importance of Ontario’s provincial parliament from a journalist who has had the opportunity to write for the Star not only from Queen’s Park but also from Ottawa, Asia, and the Middle East. We discussed road tolls, provincial by-elections, and a transition over the years from transformational to transactional politics, both at home and abroad.

It’s no secret that three times a week the OLIP interns flip (or scroll and click) to the Martin Regg Cohn column for our dose of journalistic analysis on both the political issues of the day, and the ones that are here to stay at Queen’s Park.  

Thank you Martin for taking the time to meet with us!


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!