With only four months left until the (supposed) election, every speech, question, recommendation, and critique is driven by politics. In this context, the consideration of policy – ideally, fair and responsible policy – has fallen by the wayside. Even critiques of the government, which form part of the central role of the opposition parties, are now rarely based on policy differences. Until October, politics will indeed reign supreme.
Last week, however, I managed to sneak a glimpse of when policy won out over politics – or at least partisanship. At a reception celebrating the proposed Thaidene Nene national park in the Northwest Territories, MPs from all three parties came together in support of the park. Clara Hughes, well-known Olympian and mental health advocate, brought the park to life by sharing her experience visiting the area and all of its vast beauty. This event, among others, helped to reinforce in my mind that all 308 MPs, regardless of party stripe, have many of the same end goals in mind. They work to advance the lives of Canadians across the country, protect our borders, share the wealth of our land, and improve the lives of the most vulnerable.
Being immersed in Parliament Hill on the eve of an election has been unparalleled thus far. The election is on everyone’s mind and has been the talk of the town, from the hallways of Centre Block to the patios of Sparks Street. The public and media do seem to forget that within these hallways, however, there is a lot of governing still going on!
Working with Rodger Cuzner, I have been fortunate to not only laugh at, and be on the receiving end of countless jokes, but also to sit in on the Standing Committee for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. For nearly four hours every week, members from all parties gather to discuss employment-related issues and question witnesses with the hope of recommending future legislation. Being immersed in the labour and employment files has taught me a lot about EI, skills training, labour mobility, and more. After these four months, I’ll hopefully be well versed enough to navigate the job market, and all of its perils, upon graduation.
The next couple of weeks, like the previous five, will be a whirlwind of meetings, receptions, dinners, and impromptu conversations until the House rises on June 23rd. Just because the MPs are back in their ridings, does not mean the work stops here in Ottawa. The second half of the summer will also mark the “riding visits” where each of the Jaimie’s Interns will have the opportunity to spend some time in the home ridings of each of our MPs. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for the seafood and ocean air in Cape Breton. I’ll be sure to add some pictures to my next post. Until then, enjoy the first round of election ads and the last few Question Periods of this 41st Parliament.