Reducing Barriers: How the Parliamentary Internship Programme is Paving the Road for Young People in Canada - Institute on Governance

Reducing Barriers: How the Parliamentary Internship Programme is Paving the Road for Young People in Canada

3 minute read

By: Samuel Wells, IOG Student Intern

On June 19th, 2019, the Institute on Governance (IOG) hosted the 9thAnnual Jean-Pierre Gaboury Symposium. At this event, the participants of the 2018-19 Parliamentary Internship Programme (PIP) were invited to discuss their individual research projects relating to the Canadian political sphere and life on Parliament Hill.

The Parliamentary Internship Programme is an independent, non-partisan initiative established in 1970 that provides an opportunity for ten highly qualified young professionals to work full-time on Parliament Hill for a period of ten months. Participants divide their internships between assignments with MPs from both the government and opposition benches. Interns perform a variety of political staffer duties such as writing speeches, briefing notes, and questions for question period, as well as attending committee meetings, networking functions, and constituency events. Additionally, interns receive the opportunity to travel abroad and, as previously mentioned, write an innovative research paper regarding parliamentary affairs.

PIP’s work highlights the IOG’s July theme of diversity for a number of reasons. As an organization, PIP has been making an active effort to reduce barriers for employment on Parliament Hill. As outlined in their latest annual report, PIP has made recent investments in diversity recruitment and has also made significant changes to the manner in which they seek and select their candidates. In particular, they have focused on the use of more widely-accessible promotional tools such as social media and engagement on university campuses, which ensures that their appeal for highly qualified young professionals reaches less-connected individuals as well as those who have easy access to the political sphere. The program’s strategic plan also includes an Indigenous recruitment strategy and consultation with human rights experts. Furthermore, PIP is actively seeking ways in which they can raise their participant stipends, which will allow greater accessibility to the program for a larger number of candidates, especially those who are in financial need. Finally, as some candidates this year have demonstrated through writing novel essays on topics pertaining to diversity on Parliament Hill, the aforementioned research papers that comprise part of the program can be an excellent chance to discuss the matter of diversity and inclusion in government.

The symposium itself was once again the venue for thought-provoking exchanges and knowledge sharing among governance enthusiasts. In addition to the research presentations, the event features a keynote address from Mr. Charles Robert, Clerk of the House of Commons. More details on the event and its content will be presented in the IOG’s September newsletter, when a new contingent of Parliamentary Interns will be selected.

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