Goethe said, “A great person attracts great people, and knows how to hold them together.” I read this in a book that I was perusing (read: skimming) in the weeks before my convocation, one that someone (read: Mom) had left on my nightstand. It was full of quotes that mildly united ideas of leadership, responsibility and other buzzwords meant to gently acknowledge the overarching theme of impending adulthood. While I was entirely on board with graduating and all of the celebration(s) that this would entail, I wasn’t quite ready to consider the adultness that I was sure would hit me immediately upon receiving my diploma. I pictured the moment as such:
June 10th, 2013, 3:00pm: Jeanelle Dundas, fun-loving, young, undergraduate student June 10th, 2013, 3:01pm: Jeanelle Dundas, serious adult *laden* with responsibilities
While I gladly left the book behind as I navigated my first few weeks on the Hill working for the office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, that quote in particular remained top-of-mind. I soon realized that this was because over the past month, as is often the case, I’ve learned a lot more about leadership, responsibility and great people working together from Mr. LeBlanc and his colleagues than I could have read about in a book. I’ve always been of the opinion that the best way to learn about politics is to dive in and get involved; so far, this internship has been an amazing way to do so. Mr. LeBlanc represents the riding of Beauséjour in New Brunswick and is the Liberal House Leader. As a result, the work I’ve done has been split between learning about issues concerning his riding and learning about his role as House Leader, including his work with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. He graciously extended a standing invitation to daily meetings including Tactics and QP prep, both of which have provided incredible insight on caucus management and the process by which MPs contribute to an ongoing discussion about how best to serve their constituents across the country. These meetings also gave me the chance to become acquainted with the contents of numerous bills making their way through Parliament (and the hard-work of those keeping track of them in incredible detail!) in addition to being aware of daily committees, and learning about various communications and media considerations. There’s been a lot of transition within the Party over the past few months, from welcoming a new Leader, to welcoming a new MP and to, just last week, saying goodbye to a remarkable Parliamentarian; I feel incredibly grateful to learn firsthand about dealing with said transition, and to witness the remarkable energy with which the people I work with approach new situations. On my first day, Sébastien briefed me on the day-to-day happenings in the office; I noticed (and loved) that this conversation was set to a great jazz playlist, which, I learned, was to “start the week off right, because things usually get a little hectic.” So far, I’ve found that it’s hectic in the best way possible, as there’s always something new to engage in. I’ve enjoyed doing research for letters from constituents regarding a range of issues, including concerns about access to health care facilities in rural areas, proposals for restructuring existing disability benefits for those living with Multiple Sclerosis and other episodic illnesses, and questions about funding for the Experimental Lakes Area research facility, among others.
I’ve also been interested in some work surrounding a Question of Privilege and subsequent motion concerning the alleged violation of certain provisions of the Canada Elections Act. In light of Speaker Scheer’s recent ruling on the matter, I’m looking forward to doing some more research on House of Commons procedure over the coming weeks. On a side note, I’ve had the opportunity to put my summer guiding skills to good use! I’ve been more than happy to help welcome some of Mr. LeBlanc’s guests, from various school groups from the riding to CBC’s Ian Hanomansing and his family, and to answer their questions about Parliament. I’ve always been proud of the fact that, even when our institutions seem plagued with difficult questions concerning reform and improving transparency, they remain remarkably accessible to fellow Canadians and visitors from around the world.
All in all, it’s been an exciting start to a summer filled with some pretty unique experiences (including a great afternoon touring the CBC studio, and an equally interesting morning over at CTV’s Question Period!) – I’m looking forward to the months ahead, and continuing to share them with Pat and Julia.