5 Weeks Interning in Canada’s Capital

Allison Portnoy

Canadian Parliament Internship

 

1. As my Step Signature Project, I interned in the Canadian Parliament for 5 weeks. I had the opportunity to write speeches, write to constituents, coordinate events and meet very fascinating people. I had the great fortune of meeting the Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker of the Senate, US Ambassador Kelly Knight, Prime Minister Trudeau, as well as many Foreign Service Officers, Members of Parliament and Ministers.

2. Interning on Parliament Hill brought about a lot of changes. For one, I had never lived on my own- especially outside of the United States. I originally found the task daunting but I really enjoyed living on my own, learning how to cook in a microwave, and walking to work instead of driving my car.

I also developed a greater appreciation for domestic politics. Studying international affairs, I never really cared much for domestic politics. I felt that it was inferior to what was going on abroad. This opinion drastically changed while answering letters to constituents. The letters that I received were just as important as the renegotiations of NAFTA. But more importantly, I realized that we shouldn’t let our political party affiliation define us. Being surrounded my politicians every day I began to realize that at the end of the day, we all go home to our families and friends.

3. Of the three changes that occurred during my internship, learning to live on my own was the least interesting. I learned how to cook for myself, live on a strict budget and make sure that I was doing what I could to stay safe. It felt great knowing that I could successfully be independent.

The experience of responding to constituent’s letters was very important to me because I understood how important it was to become politically active. Whenever a constituent would write a letter addressed to Member of Parliament Wayne Stetski, we would all take the time to listen to what they had to say. I read many diverse letters that challenged my thinking and opened me up to new ideas.

I had a lot of tremendous opportunities to meet Senators, Members of Parliament and other important political figures in Ottawa who challenged my political beliefs. More importantly, I realized that we are more than the party we align ourselves with. I had many casual conversations with Members of Parliament who were in very contrasting political parties, but we were able to have genuine conversations about our differences at a reception or even the elevator. We had the amazing privilege of being hosted at the home of the US Ambassador and even though I differ from her politically, she was incredibly hospitable and it is an event I will never forget. Ambassador Knight invited us to her home to meet other politicians and foreign service workers to help us network and show us what we could someday achieve.

4. Personally, I learned that I can thrive on my own and be very successful in politics. I realized the kind of politician I would like to one day become. I did not want to hind behind my party and close myself off to other opinions. I want to have genuine conversations with people about our differences and try to learn something new. I will always remember that our politics do not define us, and tremendous change can come about from working with people we may not agree with.

Here I am with Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party.

Member of Parliament Wayne Stetski was my amazing mentor and boss for my 5 weeks on Parliament Hill.

I had the amazing opportunity to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau!