Parliamentary Intern _ Canada 2

The name of my MP whom I am serving is Raj Saini.  As a member of the liberal party, he started serving his constituency in 2015.  He is a member of the Foreign Affairs and International Development committee and Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics committee.  His riding is Kitchener Centre, which is the north-central part of the city of Kitchener, Ontario.

Kitchener Centre has been represented in the House of Commons since 1997, and politically the riding has been split between the liberal west of Conestoga Parkway and the conservative east.  From 1997 until 2008, Kitchener Centre was represented by Karen Redman for the liberal party, then represented by Stephan Woodworth for the conservative party until 2015.  According to the 2016 Census, the population of the Kitchener Centre consists about 105,258.  Approximately 94% of the population is a Canadian citizen.  A big majority of the population knows English, while 7% of the population speak both English and French, and 2% speak neither one of the official languages.  Following English and French, Spanish, Serbian, and Arabic were the most often spoken at home.  Out of 103,685 of the population, 2.2% of them identify with Aboriginal identities.  Again out of 103,685 of the population, 24,295 (23.4%) of them are fairly recent immigrants.  Approximately 17,110 people immigrated between 1980 and 2016, and 7,465 of them consist of refugees.  88,160 of the population who are older than 14 years have received some kind of an education.  A little over than half of those who received education received up to a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree, a lot of which consist of a kind of apprenticeship or trades certificate.  The popular major fields of studies are engineering, then business, then health professionals.  In regards to economic family income, the population is split – 55.3% is in the bottom half of the distribution (from bottom to the fifth decile) and 44.6% is in the top half of the distribution (from sixth to the top decile).  The highest percentage of household total income is 24.4% with $100,000 CAD ($77,480 USD) and over before tax, followed by 8.8% with $50,000 ($38,740 USD) and $59,000 CAD.  The average individual income for full time workers over the age of 14 was $57,096 CAD ($44,238 USD).  The unemployment rate is 7.4%.[1]

My first assignment, which is still on-going, was to call the various organizations in the constituency that has been funded by the Canada Summer Jobs Program through Service Canada.  I generally talked to the head of the organization to see if they would be interested in MP Raj Saini visiting them and their hired student(s) to talk about the program, whether they have any feedback or questions, etc.  If the organization has already hired a student, then I go ahead to schedule them an approximately thirty minutes meeting with Raj sometime in late June or July.  I utilized Google Maps a lot to see which organizations were near each other so that Raj could commute the most efficiently.  As, out of approximately 108 organizations, not all of them has either answered their phone call or hired their students yet, the task is still on-going.

The next assignment I was given was to enter constituents and correspondence data into Liberal Caucus Constituent Relationship Management (Liberal Caucus CRM).  This requires a little bit of explanation of how correspondences work.  Every day people, whether constituents or not, send a lot of angry or happy opinions or questions to Raj Saini’s email.  The first thing that our parliamentary assistant does with those emails is determines whether it was sent by a constituent or not.  After which she (or someone in either the parliamentary or the constituency office) drafts a response accordingly, incorporating the Government’s and Raj Saini’s stance.  Before those emails get sent, Raj reads all of them to make sure that they are aligned with his opinions (and thus the Government’s opinions) and then sends them.  The step of entering data into Liberal Caucus CRM is the step right between when the correspondence response gets drafted and Raj sends them.  Liberal Caucus CRM is a massive database that contains a lot of voter files.  Therefore, before the responses get sent, the summary of each and every constituent’s correspondences gets entered into the Liberal Caucus CRM so that the constituent’s interests and opinions could be kept in an organized database – which was the assignment given to me for approximately 30 correspondences.

After that I was assigned to write a few correspondence responses, myself.  Again, this part needs a little bit of explanation.  The correspondence emails vary from angry emails about the Government’s actions with certain trade agreements to thank you emails about the Government’s public response to certain foreign affairs.  Because the topics vary so hugely, in order to give the best and most satisfying answers to the constituents, there is a helpful database called InfoLib, which is a huge library and information database on the Government’s (hence the Liberal Party’s) stance and key messages and etc. on a lot of political hot topics.  InfoLib not only has this database online, but they also send emails to each liberal party members every morning summarizing the top 15 news and every afternoon summarizing the three or four news out of those initial top 15 news with the Government’s stance and key messages summarized with the news.  Therefore, whoever drafts the response for the correspondence email is able to draft a response that is the most in accordance with the Government’s stance and also is with the most accurate information, using these resources gathered by InfoLib.  Now in my case, not only did I have InfoLib as my resource but I also had the previous responses written by Raj’s parliamentary assistant to use as guidance.  Utilizing all three of the given resources, I was assigned to write my own version of responses to a few correspondences.  The correspondences were about the recent violence in Gaza, Lyme disease, legalization of cannabis, and the TPP (now CPTPP) agreement.  Of course after squeezing my brain out for hours to draft those couple of responses, the parliamentary assistant looked over each and every one of them, teaching me ways to utilize InfoLib to the maximum capacity and refining the drafts.    Besides those three assignments, I updated some old data on the system.

If I have to choose the tasks that I did not like, initially when given those three assignments mentioned above, they all seemed daunting so I could say that those were the tasks that I “did not” like.  But gradually as I got more used to them, especially calling the constituents, I got less nervous and started liking them more.  I remember the three assignments mentioned above the best, in part because they took the most time, but also because it was while doing those three assignments that I learned the most about the way a parliamentary office works.  I learned the most about current political issues of Canada and the Government’s stance on those issues through drafting the correspondence emails.  Drafting the emails took the most energy out of me because when I was given the emails, besides the violence in Gaza, I had close to zero background knowledge on the topics.  Therefore, I had to look up everything about it from using Wikipedia to CBC to InfoLib so that I can learn about the issue as fast as I can and then draft the best response.  However, perhaps because of that, I learned so much of the specifics of some of the political issues of Canada.  Additionally, once I got the general hang of how InfoLib works, I found it extremely efficient and convenient.  One thing that I know I want to improve on is skimming and understanding articles and writings as efficiently and quickly as possible and gain the skill of being able to distinguish the useful and necessary information with the extraneous.  Working with more correspondence responses, which I assume I will continue to be working with, as the office gets bombarded with emails every day, hopefully will help me improve or at least practice some of those skills!  I am both nervous and excited for all the future assignments to come.  I was recently asked to watch a lot of Canada Day (July 1st) speech videos and draft a short thirty seconds speech for Raj as well, so I have been working on that.  I am excited to further learn about the specific committee works and gain a little bit of experience in all the many different things that the office does as well.

[1] All the statistics were found from 2016 Census website : http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=FED&Code1=35045&Geo2=PR&Code2=35&Data=Count&SearchText=Kitchener%20Centre&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=All&TABID=1

One thought on “Parliamentary Intern _ Canada 2

  • May 31, 2018 at 12:39 pm
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    Sharon, thanks so much for sharing your initial experiences interning in Canada. It sounds like you have been very, very busy! I love that you have embraced tasks that at first seemed daunting or difficult, and have become comfortable completing them. That’s great! One thing that you can do as you go along in your internship is talk to your supervisor about areas that you see as having potential for personal growth. Maybe you will discover some project that you could take on over the summer? Maybe you’ll find that you particularly enjoy and are good at certain tasks but not so with others? That could then open up a discussion to ensure that you are getting the absolute most that you possibly can from your internship! I’m looking forward to following your experience this summer.

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