The 25th OLIP Cohort of 2000-2001 entered Queen’s Park on the heels of the new millennium. Premier Mike Harris had won the 1999 election, forming a second-term majority government in the reduced 103-seat legislature. Led by Programme Director Robert Williams, 8 new OLIP interns, Amy Dickieson-Kaufman, Ted Flett, Rebecca Gosevitz, Tyler Langlois, Michelle MacDonald-Pinch, Daniel Malik, Nanda Purandare, and Rachel Sheer were quickly immersed into the machinery of Queen’s Park.
Although the infamous Y2K scare was fading into the rearview mirror by the middle of 2000, the first year of the new millennium saw Premier Harris face his most trying controversy during his time in government as an E. coli outbreak in May contaminated the water supply of the town of Walkerton, leaving roughly half the town’s population ill and seven people deceased. In February 2001, Minister of Finance Ernie Eves resigned both his cabinet position as well as his long standing seat in Parry Sound-Muskoka, though he would later return to politics in 2002 as Ontario’s 23rd Premier.
Alumnus Rachel Sheer remembers the close knit sense of community both among the interns as well as within Queen’s Park. She notes that the two MPPs she worked with were generous with providing her the experiences, time, insights, and political and constituency training that continues to inform her career post-OLIP. As always, the study tours were one of the opportunities that made the year special. The 25th OLIP cohort travelled to Halifax and Fredericton, Quebec City, Regina, Ottawa, and London, UK, where the interns had the opportunity to attend the State Opening of Parliament outside the Palace of Westminster.