I arrived in Ottawa not knowing the city; still a teenager; straight out of residence at Mount Allison University in rural New Brunswick; moved in with three people off Kijiji and began work on Parliament Hill. Needless to say I had a lot of new and exciting experiences waiting for me.
I began working for Peggy Nash, MP for Parkdale-High Park in Toronto and the Official Opposition Industry Critic. One of the greatest lessons the Jaimie Anderson Parliamentary Internship taught me is that it is one thing to learn or read about politics and a very different thing to tangibly experience the political arena. My very first day in Peggy’s office proved to be vigorous and never slowed down. As soon as I walked in the door I was asked to conduct extensive research on a piece of legislation receiving lots of commentary on the floor of the House of Commons, and provide a report by the end of the day. Two months later I had the rewarding opportunity to spend a week in Peggy’s constituency working on case files, and spending the afternoons going door-to-door asking constituents for feedback on current political issues, issues effecting them, and community concerns. I have spent time reading about and researching public policy, but I had not had the opportunity to see how public policy can affect large groups of people on such personal levels. A woman Peggy and I met during our canvassing emotionally expressed to us how the same piece of legislation I had researched on my first day of work negatively affected her and her family. This brief encounter humanized my understanding of public policy and governance and I learned how leadership (both positive and negative) truly affects the lives of thousands.
Three weeks into my placement in Peggy’s office, her Member’s Assistant was unable to continue work. I was suddenly solely responsible for replying to constituent emails, writing most statements and questions for Question Period, answering and directing all phone calls, scheduling meetings, and every other office task under the sun. With generous guidance from Peggy’s exceptionally bright Legislative Assistant, Sheila Matthen, this was all manageable and exciting.
Working for Peggy was a true privilege and honour. Peggy is a very hands-on politician and inspired me in terms of her work ethic, integrity, commitment to her constituents, and passion for serving Canada. Working with Peggy each day was a test of endurance (and I must say that I am very certain Peggy has more endurance than anyone I have ever met). We would spend the day running from briefings, to Industry Committee meetings, back to the office to meet with lobbyists, House Duty, Question Period, meetings with constituents visiting Parliament, and media interviews. Working on Parliament Hill proved to be the most rewarding exercise I have ever experienced!
Working as a Jaimie’s Intern in Peggy’s office presented me with opportunities I never could have imagined. I cannot begin to explain the feeling of sheer joy I felt when I heard a question I had prepared recited in Question Period for the first time. Peggy is a dynamic, thoughtful, and energetic leader. She sought to excite and challenge me and thus, gave me the opportunity to research and prepare a Private Members’ Motion with her. I was astounded that I had the opportunity to help shape legislation in a meaningful way. It was a truly humbling experience watching online as Peggy presented the Motion in the House of Commons when Parliament resumed in the fall.
As a Jaimie Anderson Parliamentary Intern I spent the entire summer smiling from ear-to-ear. Each day was an exciting adventure, as new tasks, and new challenges presented themselves regularly. The experiences Jordan, Michelle, and I were privy to are unmatched. From appearing on CBC’s Power and Politics (yes, it really happened!); visiting the Google Canada offices; to traveling to Toronto to share in conversations with Samara Canada and CBC’s At Issue Panel; to having tea with Mrs. Laureen Harper at 24 Sussex (and the Prime Minister walking in unannounced) and everything in between, the interdisciplinary opportunities and eye-opening moments that came from being a Jaimie’s Intern continue to inspire me and guide me through my academic career and everyday life.
I truly value and greatly appreciate the education I received as a Jaimie Anderson Parliamentary Intern. I learned more about politics, businesses relationships, and the media in four months on the Hill than I ever could have learned from a textbook or in a classroom. This Internship fueled my love of politics and taught me how positive partisan relationships move the country forward and create a stronger Canada. I am so grateful to the Anderson family, Peggy Nash, Sheila Matthen, Jordan, and Michelle for making this summer truly unforgettable and a life changing experience.