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Jaimie's Intern Jeremy Ryant summarizes his time on the hill

One thing has become apparent to me after spending four months interning on Parliament Hill. There is no “I” in “Government”. In other words, I have learned that politics is a team sport and that representing the public will is not something that can be achieved by any person alone. Instead, my time in Marco Mendicino’s office has shown me that effective governing requires people to work together; to constantly communicate, coordinate, and cooperate with one another.

The notion that politics is a team sport has been demonstrated to me time and time again over the past several weeks. From constantly liaising with staff in Marco’s Constituency Office, to organizing events, to crafting speeches, to doing research assignments, Marco and his staff have allowed me to witness the power that a group of dedicated people possess when they work together towards a shared goal.

And work we did. A particular highlight of being part of team Marco has been learning how to work effectively in a variety of new and, at times, unfamiliar settings. In mid-July, for instance, I was tasked with organizing a Climate Change Town Hall in Marco’s riding, Eglinton-Lawrence (colloquially referred to as ‘EgLaw’). The Town Hall was particularly interesting to help organize because it allowed me to see how deeply the residents of EgLaw care for their community. The Town Hall also gave me an idea of how much work is involved in bringing people together; and more importantly of how much a community benefits when its members are given the chance to engage with their elected representatives in robust discussion and respectful debate. It has been through spending time in Marco’s riding that I have seen democracy at work and become familiar with a once unfamiliar corner of Canada – and for that I will always be grateful.

I have also been lucky enough to interact with a larger parliamentary team throughout my experience. Beyond forging wonderful relationships with a number of MPs and their staff, I have had the chance to meet with a few big names from “Team Journalism” and “Team Bureaucracy”. Together, by interacting with people from different professional backgrounds and skillsets, I have gotten a holistic taste of what it means to devote one’s self to public service. I have learned that “Team Hill Office” cannot operate without “Team Constituency Office” and vice versa; that “Team House of Commons” relies “Team Journalism”; and that “Team Government” works alongside “Team Opposition” more than one might think. Indeed, my internship experience has illustrated to me the importance of teamwork in serving the public. 

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Larissa Parker shares an update on her Summer as a Jaimie's Intern

I have recently returned from my trip into the riding of Timmins-James Bay, which graced me with wonderful people, beautiful scenery, and awesome weather. I was able to visit the city of Timmins and surrounding towns like Porcupine, Cochrane, and Iroquois Falls, as well as drive through many others like Matheson, Val Gagné, and Smooth Rock Falls.  

Back in 2004, Charlie ran on a platform of providing service to the entire riding, a region larger than Great Britain. At the time, many areas had never seen service before. For this reason, Charlie currently has four constituency hubs: Timmins, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls and Kirkland Lake. I visited three of these offices and was amazed by the amount of case work that the constituency assistants are dealing with every day. I think Team Angus’s dedication to helping everyone and anyone is incredible. I have learned that there is no greater feeling than the gratitude that comes from successfully helping a constituent who is need (and because of this, I have been picking up a lot more constituency work nowadays!). To me, this is what politics should be all about. You are elected to represent, serve, and defend your people and that is exactly what I saw in the riding of Timmins-James Bay.

But my trip to the riding was not all work. Not only did I learn how to drive an ATV, but I got to meet two polar bears, road trip with Charlie, enjoy beautiful Northern sunsets every night, and much more; I was getting a “true Northern Ontario adventure”. 

A big highlight of the trip was travelling to Peawanuck, which is a small First Nation reserve 777km North of Ottawa on the Winisk river. In 1986, the Winisk Flood completely devastated the community, forcing them to relocate on higher ground. 30 years later, I got the opportunity to celebrate this anniversary. There was lots of food, song and dance, along with many celebratory competitions like skeet shooting, and sport tournaments. As the picture below illustrates, although it was only 8 degrees there, it was still so so warm.  

I am so grateful that this internship provided me with the opportunity to explore the riding. This trip taught me a lot about Northern Ontario and allowed me to apply the work and research that I have been doing in Ottawa to work on the ground in the riding. I feel more apart of Team Angus than ever and I’m sure that that will make my last month here all the more valuable!

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Lydia Blois shares an update on her Summer as a Jaimie's Intern

With the House having risen for the summer it has been a great opportunity to work on different projects as well as take time to attend fun events like the American Ambassador’s fourth of July party. While there is definitely less running back and forth from my office to Centre Block there has still been lots to do. The focus has been more long term and has provided me the chance to dig deep into certain files and look more in depth on the Finance Committee’s studies, as well as government finance in general. The Finance Critic file has been very busy this summer and having a hand in researching policy, and talking to stakeholders has been challenging and incredible. I have learned so much more about how government finance works and how it impacts my life, as well as the lives of all Canadians.

But it has not been all work and no play; there have been garden parties where we have met the Prime Minister, the leader of the Official Opposition and the leader of the New Democratic Party. We also attended the Riverkeeper Gala, which was a great experience where we learned about the amazing work the organization does towards keeping the Ottawa River clean, and met some other Ministers, journalists and Ms. Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. Most recently we had a dinner with journalists and it was so interesting to listen to how journalism and politics intersect, and how they work together in Ottawa. These opportunities have provided a panoramic view of life in the capital and allowed me to experience all three major parties, while meeting the other people beyond Members of Parliament who make up the political scene in Ottawa.

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Jaimie's Intern Jeremy Ryant summarizes his first month on the hill

My first month in the office of Marco Mendicino, MP for Eglinton-Lawrence and Ontario Caucus Chair, has been a bit of a blur; a series of flashpoints, of new faces, new places, new ideas, and a new perspective on what it takes to meaningfully contribute to public life. By way of metaphor, I arrived on Parliament Hill as a new born. Granted, I could walk, talk, and did not need to be spoon fed (all of the time, that is). Even still, in many ways, my first days on the Hill resembled an infant’s first days in a new and exciting – albeit somewhat strange – world. To start, I was immediately shocked by the amount of foreign terminology and acronyms that were part of the Parliamentary vocabulary: PMO, PCO, FMO, PS, QP, LRB, SECU, FINA … you get the idea. In that vein, even though I am somewhat fluent in English, I found myself quickly learning an entirely new language. Fortunately, after a week or so I started to sound less like a bumbling baby while talking to my colleagues and more like a young toddler. It is the small victories that are the sweetest, right?

Armed with my newly acquired Parliamentary vocabulary, it was time to learn how to walk. To my dismay, I quickly learned that the Hill was not padded with the stuff they use on playgrounds. I also quickly learned that tourists will laugh and take pictures of you if you fall up the stairs of Centre Block more than once in a matter of seconds. Anyhow, notwithstanding a few embarrassing slips and falls, I was on my way to becoming a fairly competent toddler on the Hill. Among other things, I had the pleasure of shadowing Marco for a day, where I attended a flag-raising ceremony and got a front row seat to the action in the Government Lobby during Question Period. Beyond shadowing Marco, I also had the opportunity to attend committee meetings, legislative briefings, and learn the ins and outs of the office. Together, these experiences helped me make the transition from stumbling toddler to wide-eyed day schooler.

Life as a “big kid” on the Hill was pretty amazing. To start, I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon at the CBC, where I met one of my heroes, Rosemary Barton. Some kids are comic book nerds; this one is a Political Science nerd. What is more, I had the pleasure of going to the Travers Debates, along with a number of other wonderful events. Finally, I began training on “The Hill” Swim Team with MPs from all parties.

My visit to Toronto, where Marco’s constituency is located, marked the end of my childhood and the beginning of my teenage hood. And like any teenager who also happens to be a politics nerd, after three weeks on the job I was ready to fly the Parliamentary nest and see how politics worked at the grassroots level. The time that I spent in Toronto was stunning. Firstly, I had the opportunity to meet Finance Minister, Bill Morneau for the second time in a matter of days, as well as get to know several people from the local riding association. Next, I got to see, first hand, the local dimension of politics. This new perspective was especially valuable not only because it demonstrated to me just how deeply our politicians care about their constituents, but it also reminded me of the power that engaged citizens have in our democracy. Lastly, my visit to Marco’s constituency was special because it connected me with his first rate constituency staff – a group of people who work tirelessly to serve their communities.

All in all my childhood and early teenage hood on the Hill has been enlightening, engaging, fascinating, terrifying, humbling, and a vast slew of other adjectives. Indeed, growing up can be tough from time to time. Fortunately, the Hill was far less daunting than it otherwise could have been, in large part thanks to all of the fantastic people who I have had the pleasure to work with over the past four weeks. With that, I cannot wait to see what the lies in store for the rest of my teenage hood… here’s to hoping that I hit my growth spurt soon. 

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Jaimie's Intern Larissa Parker summarizes her first month on the hill

Accurately describing the different feelings and experiences that you gain from working as an intern on Parliament Hill is pretty hard to do. As a Jaimie Anderson intern, I have had the opportunity to become a member of MP Charlie Angus’ team and work on anything and everything under the sun, at an incredibly high-pace. On a daily basis, I research and draft countless questions, letters, and briefing notes, as well as, get the wonderful opportunity to sit in numerous interesting meetings and debates. Juggling these tasks on top of attending multiple receptions, picnicking for lunch with the other interns, and of course, dodging swarms of tourists on a daily basis coming to and from Centre Block every week, has been a blast to say the least.

Working for Charlie has been so much fun. He and his team, work tirelessly to make positive change in our country and its incredibly rewarding to be a part of it.

While it is inarguable that Charlie is a passionate politician, who fights for vulnerable Canadians, he is also a fantastic musician and writer. I have heard his music on more than a few mornings in the office, and have been able to read his touching book Children of the Broken Treaty on my weekend train rides back to Toronto.

As expected, Indigenous affairs - which is Charlie’s critic work - has been a dominating issue this past month. With the recent devastating suicide crisis impacting Attawapiskat youth, and the ongoing, troubling health crises that are impacting communities across the country, I have been learning a lot about Indigenous issues in Canada. And although, I have long studied and understood the disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada in relation to education, health services, housing, etc…; I don’t think I fully comprehended the severity of these issues until I was working on them firsthand in this office.

Two particular highlights involve my time witnessing and working on materials for the Indigenous Affairs Committee (INAN), a committee that MP Charlie Angus sits on as Vice Chair. Firstly, during my second week on the Hill, I was offered the opportunity to draft questions for INAN when our Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna came to discuss her file in relation to Indigenous Peoples in Canada. This was exciting because I was able to apply my environmental background to this job and witness Charlie ask my questions concerning Indigenous involvement in environmental negotiations, as well as treaty rights and infringements in the region. Secondly, I got the opportunity to draft an NDP Supplementary Report to a final report done on the health study that INAN just completed. Having the chance to be this involved with Charlie’s team in my second and third week on the job was incredibly fulfilling.

One of the most surreal parts of this internship is the random encounters one has every day in the hallways of the House of Commons. You have the opportunity to run into MPs, Ministers and sometimes even, party leaders in the halls in between meetings or on your way to work. This internship is also facilitating some really exciting visits to media outlets and lobbyists, which are making this summer even more meaningful!

In the next three months, I’ll have the opportunity to join Charlie on a visit to the riding. I have never been to Northern Ontario and I’m really excited to spend some time there and see constituency-related work. I’m looking forward to the rest of this internship and cannot wait to see what it has in store for me next!

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