It’s a well-known fact that I absolutely adore the cafeteria on the 5th floor of Centre Block; I fell in love with its $4.05 French toast breakfast special last summer. As a result of this dangerous relationship with icing sugar and maple syrup, I’ve started taking the stairs up to my office (which is conveniently located right next to said cafeteria). Although the flights of stairs began as a strategy to offset all of the breakfast goodness, the exercise resulted in early morning moments of reflection, some interesting encounters, and these final thoughts on an incredible summer.
The transition into summer recess certainly led to a much calmer work environment; however, as Mrs. Harper noted during a lovely chat over tea at 24 Sussex Drive yesterday, “they’re not on vacation!” While our MPs have been back in their ridings for the last few weeks, there’s still a lot of work to be done. I’ve been working with Sébastien on some constituent outreach projects and surveys; I really enjoy reading comments from constituents who have taken the time to fill out the sections where we ask them to tell us more about their ideas for their communities and the issues that matter most to them. I’ve also been doing some ongoing work regarding the question of privilege I mentioned earlier in the summer, as well as reading about and summarizing Bill C-21, which is an Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, particularly regarding accountability with respect to political loans.
The first half of the summer was a whirlwind of daily meetings and encounters with MPs, Senators and visitors from the riding. However, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the chance to get to know more people working behind the scenes, including staffers, chefs at the cafeteria, constables, librarians, and everyone working hard to keep the building at its best. As I met and learned more about all of these people dedicated to doing their jobs well and with pride, I decided that one of the most important takeaways of the summer is this: to build and nurture genuine and positive relationships with those who cross your path. These happen anywhere and everywhere – from the cafeteria, to the stairways taken to compensate for the cafeteria, Tactics meetings, Question Period prep, summer barbecues, Atlantic Assistants’ meetings, chatting with visiting school groups, to dinners with insightful and talented journalists. I’ve learned to forge these relationships based on interest and sincerity, and not as a means to an end; in other words, don’t seek people out because you need a favour, or because you’ll need one in the future. Seek them out and engage because you’re interested and because you’ll genuinely learn fascinating things about them, and often, about yourself. Furthermore, the chance to get to know people across party lines has emphasized the fact that, for all of our differences in opinion on how best to get things done, the end objective remains the same: to serve Canadians.
I’ve learned so much over the past couple of months, and I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity. I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to the internship organizing committee, as well as to Mr. LeBlanc, Sébastien Belliveau and all of my colleagues. Finally, a huge thanks to Pat and Julia for being a great team to share the experience with!