There is truly something magical about this city. All of the wonderful elements of London, when mixed together, create the most potent elixir that will keep an intern up for days! Trust me, we’re living proof!
Our weekend was full of sightseeing as we explored the bustling downtown core, using the winding River Thames as our path. Among the ten of us, we were able to cover lots of ground from the exhibitions within the Tate Britain to Buckingham Palace to the Millennium Bridge and beyond (with the help of a delicious salt beef sandwich and a few fresh strawberries from the Borough Market to fuel us along the way of course!)
We awoke on Monday morning filled with anticipation as we met our amazing guide, Shivarni Sharma-Dixit from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who led us from the bustling downtown core to a picturesque neighbourhood just outside of the city, the settings for our two educational meetings. We started the day with a breathtaking view of the London skyline admiring everything from the Gherkin to Tower Bridge as we walked along the South Bank to London’s City Hall where we had the opportunity to sit down with Katie Smith, Head of Scrutiny along with Becky Short, Scrutiny Manager for Policing at The London Assembly. During our meeting, we talked about the role of the London Assembly and its committees and were fascinated to learn about the evolving relationship between the local and central governments. During our discussion about London’s political scene, Ms. Smith and Ms. Short led us through a thrilling discussion about everything from policy issues such as housing and transit to revenue generation while we compared notes about the inner-workings of government and the similarities and differences regarding the political dynamics that exist both in London and across the pond in Toronto.
Katie Smith, Head of Scrutiny and Becky Short, Scrutiny Manager for Policing at The London Assembly with the 2016-2017 OLIP interns
After talking about London’s intricate rail services within the walls of City Hall, it was great to experience it as passengers as we jumped from the Tube to the National Rail network which took us to Dr. Malcolm Torry, Director of the Citizen’s Income Trust. As we’ve had a front row seat to watch the roll out of Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot, it came as no surprise to any of us that lively discussion and debate took place about basic income models generated in the United Kingdom, Ontario and around the world.
Dr. Malcolm Torry, Director of the Citizen’s Income Trust talks basic income with the 2016-2017 OLIP interns
We are very grateful to Kevin McGurgan, British Consul General in Toronto and Director General for Department of International Trade Canada, Mathieu Blandford, Political and Public Affairs Officer at British Consulate General in Toronto and Shivarni Sharma-Dixit from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office here in London for creating such a robust itinerary full of many educational discussions and experiences. After just one day, it is obvious that the perspectives we have been presented with have encouraged us to think critically about a diverse range of policy areas. Whether we’re exploring one of London’s many gardens or enjoying a meal in one of the city’s pubs, nary a minute goes by where we’re not reminiscing and contemplating our meeting topics.
As writer Samuel Johnson once said, if a person tires of London, they tire of life – by the looks of our fantastic itinerary, it doesn’t seem like we’ll tire of this world-class city any time soon.
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