The 20th OLIP cohort of 1995-1996 was the first to serve in the 36th Parliament of Ontario led by the newly elected majority Progressive Conservative government of Premier Mike Harris. After 10 years of Liberal and NDP governments, under Premiers David Peterson and Bob Rae, Mike Harris’ “Common Sense Revolution” campaign to cut government spending and reduce taxes brought a new policy agenda to Queen’s Park. Followed by 8 new interns: Jennifer Alexopoulos, Melodie Barnett, Lisa Clements, Jess Dutton, Elizabeth Keller, Peter Sampaio, Rose Sottile, and Jill Zelmanovits, led by academic director Robert Williams.
The Fall of 1995 saw Canada closely watching the Quebec Independence Referendum that was closely decided by a 50.5% to 49.5% margin to stay part of Canada, and Prime Minister Chrétien fending off an intruder to 24 Sussex Drive with an Inuit statue. The OLIP interns got the opportunity to engage on the national stage by attending the 1995 federal NDP Leadership Convention, which was won by Alexa McDonough.
Alumna Lisa Clements remembers fondly all the travel opportunities she had with her fellow interns to the Provincial Legislatures in Quebec City and Edmonton, the State Legislature of Massachusetts in Boston, and Westminster in London, where the interns were able to watch then Prime Minister John Major and Leader of the Opposition Tony Blair in Prime Minister’s Questions. The highlight of the interns’ busy travel schedule for Lisa was the “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to the NWT in February of 1996 when temperatures reached -45°C! On this trip the interns saw the Northern Lights, went dog sledding, and visited a Western Saloon.