Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Iggy and others

I keep meaning to post some pics from the last few weeks so stay tuned for that. This morning I took in the changing of the guards ceremony on Parliament Hill before work, but the weather was really gloomy, so I am going to return on a sunny day to snap some pics.

So, last week I went to a Liberal staff meeting in West Block along with Elizabeth (a long-term intern in the office studying at U of O) and Anne-Sophie (the wondrous woman who knows it all and is helping me with my French). Apparently the party has these meetings every month or so for Liberal Hill staff to come together as a party and exchange ideas. This meeting, unlike most, had the added bonus of Michael Ignatieff, the leader of the Liberals. Iggy, as he is affectionately referred to in Canada, was a professor at Harvard Kennedy School for years, and I actually sat in on his class in Human Rights while I was a student at Harvard Divinity School. Anyway, Dean McCarthy from the Kennedy School told me to find Iggy and pass on a message for him - and I was hoping to run into him at some point this summer.

My office and I arrived to the Liberal meeting just before the doors closed, and standing right there was Ignatieff. So, naturally I had to carpe diem, and I walked up to him and introduced myself and we had a little chat for a couple of minutes. Fewph, now I can cross that off my if I could just get started on this book for Martha!!

Speaking of the book, I am working on gathering research and putting together a template for a book that Martha is planning on writing on women and politics in Canada. It`s so perfectly suited to the Oval Office program that it`s a really exciting undertaking. Basically, Martha wants to draw attention to the lack of women in Parliament, as well as deconstruct many of the widely held assumptions on why there are`t enough women in Canadian politics. I think what will make this book different and interesting is the personal perspective that Martha brings, along with the anecdotes and tales of her experience running and winning and working as a Member of Parliament. Better get back to that!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Toronto, amazing Toronto

I spent the last week working in Martha`s constituency office in Willowdale, north of Toronto. What a totally different vibe compared to her Ottawa office - the office was abuzz dealing with constituent calls or drop-in visitors; trying to help people navigate the challenges of Canadian immigration; planning for upcoming fundraising events...the work seemingly never stops! And I was fortunate enough to be at the center of it all, working from Martha`s desk, generally trying to help out and not be in anyone`s way. There were also a crew of volunteers at the office, most of whom were University students out for the summer looking to get involved with Martha`s work.

A big shout out to Michele, Carole, and Lily - the heart of the office - who were all so helpful in answering my endless questions and in keeping me laughing the entire time. And of course to Martha herself for allowing me to get in the middle of it all.

My favorite part of the week was planning for a large fundraising event, planned for August, which will spotlight Michael Ignatieff. As my friends know, I love event planning, and I soon realized that fundraisers are basically big parties - right up my alley. Carole, Puneet, and I toured a number of venues around Toronto looking for the perfect vibe...we think we settled on one, but a few details still need to be ironed out. Then the biggest trick is marketing and attracting the target audience to come and shell out the big bucks! Hopefully with both Martha and Iggy in the room, the event will attract Liberal supporters quite easily. I wish I had more connections in Toronto - I realized that I really don`t know too many people there...but anyone out there reading this that is interested in getting some face time with Iggy and Martha, let me know!

I also think I would love to work on a campaign. I saw pics of the Willowdale crew campaigning and partying (ummm, working diligently I mean) at the Liberal convention in Vancouver and it looked amazing. Carole was telling me about campaigning and her eyes would light up...sounds like completely hectic work, but utterly satisfying too.

Overall, the week at the constituency office provided me am neat glimpse into another side of political life in Canada. Now I`m back in Ottawa working on some Treasury Board related work for Martha, which is pretty well aligned with my finance background. Have also started on researching for a book Martha would like to write about women in Canadian politics. WHoo hoo!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More on Women and Politics in Canada

I'm not sure why there is a fair bit on the airways right now about women in Canadian politics - but it's great there's a growing dialogue happening.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009