As a graduate student of Carleton University studying in the Master of Political Management program, I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Libby and her staff during the internship component of my graduate degree. For ten weeks, I was immersed in life on Parliament Hill, joining Libby in her daily duties as a Member of Parliament.
During these ten weeks, I have been exposed to life in Ottawa, and the very real challenges Parliament faces. Throughout my time in Libby’s office, I witnessed first hand the NDPs commitment to hold this Conservative government to account– opposing harmful legislation that will effect the most vulnerable in our society.
Canadians across this country are aware of the repercussion of this government’s actions over these past few months. This was evident to me in my last week working with Libby in her constituency office in Vancouver BC.
My trip to Vancouver was my first visit to Canada’s west coast. Here, I was not only afforded the opportunity to visit Libby’s riding, but experienced first hand the impacts the federal government’s agenda has had on Libby’s constituents.
While visiting the downtown eastside, Libby and I had an opportunity to meet with the Portland Hotel Society and the directors of Insite to discuss community outreach strategy. At both these meetings progressive alternatives for drug and substance abuse were discussed to improve the lives of residents within this community as opposed to the stricter deterrence measures enacted by the Conservative government.
Libby and I also were able to take part in an Aboriginal community meeting addressing the government’s decision to cut funding to urban youth programs. Over 1,700 Aboriginal youth in Vancouver alone have been impacted by the government’s decision to cut funding in its last budget. These budget cuts have been relatively unnoticed, ultimately limiting activities available for urban youth during the summer months.
To conclude my week in Vancouver, I attended an environmental forum hosted by Libby and fellow New Democrat Members of Parliament at the Vancouver Public Library. Discussing the Embridge Pipeline and the environmental and economic repercussions that could amass if an oil spill occurred on BC’s coastline, I witnessed personal accounts from stakeholders that would be directly affected by such a disaster.
Studying in Ottawa over this past year has given me critical knowledge of how our government works and how decisions are made. While my time spent in Canada’s capital has been a great learning experience, my time with Libby and my visit to Vancouver has shown me firsthand the real impact Parliament’s decisions has on communities across this nation. Reflecting on my internship with Libby, I am more aware of the important responsibilities entrusted to Members of Parliament and the very real impact government’s decision has on the everyday lives of Canadians.
Devin Nicol is a graduate student at Carleton University and a member of the inaugural class of the Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management.