The work picked back up this week as Members of Parliament returned to the Hill from their respective ridings. Being left alone for a week left us interns far behind without even realizing it, so we met with our MP on Monday morning to straighten things out. By the end of the week, we moved forward with all for of our bills in one way or another.
I am responsible for two bills in our office: C-345 and C-215. C-345 deals with breaking down prerequisites for pregnant and nursing employees to access employment benefits, and streamlining the bureaucratic process behind finding the best benefits package between the provincial and federal systems. In working to garner support for the bill, I ran across a common complaint from multiple NGOs: This seems like something that a union would handle. Initially I was perplexed as to why this would be a problem, but I have began to realize the politics of picking and choosing your advocacy areas. In a way, these groups all operate under the precautionary principle. By being selective in giving their support, these groups also create less controversy in the public relations sphere, and are able to move forward with their own internal agenda, rather than focusing on what others are doing.
I found the same issue with C-215, which relieves volunteer firefighters from disciplinary action if they have to leave their job to fight fires, and makes them eligible for employment insurance during the time they are fighting fires. One group I talked to contended that, if this bill were to pass, they would have much more trouble recruiting career firemen since the same benefits package would be given to volunteers. While this bill seems like something that would only protect people, there are a lot of politics behind supporting a bill. This week, I learned that most of those politics are done with very little involvement from the politicians themselves.
While the week was rainy and grey, the weekend was sunny and clear. We took advantage of the weather by attending Open Doors Ottawa, which allowed us to tour the High Commissioner’s House, many embassies in the area, and even the Governor General’s Estate. It was nice to finally have consistent weather and enough time to be able to tour the entire city. All in all, I’m not quite ready to leave next week, but am incredibly pleased with the friendships I’ve gained and the experiences I’ve had.