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Historical Feature- 1980-81 OLIP Interns

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

When the Programme’s fifth cohort arrived in Queen’s Park in the autumn of 1980, it was just a few months after the first referendum on Quebec sovereignty had rocked the Canadian political landscape - Quebec had voted to remain in the federation by about 60%, after more than a decade of political turmoil in the province. Tense talks about Canada’s new constitution were underway in Ottawa. That September, Terry Fox had abruptly ended his famous Marathon of Hope.

Back in Toronto, Ontario Premier Bill Davis was entering his tenth year as premier, and was one of the strongest provincial voices in favour of the repatriation of the Canadian constitution. Now in a minority government, Davis’ government would reclaim a majority in an election held during the OLIP term, in March of 1981.

Former OLIP Intern Robin Jones (then known as Robin Esco) fondly remembers her time at Queen’s Park as a mix of “hard work and parties” - explaining that a fellow intern, the late Roberta Jessup-Ramsay, frequently organized coffee breaks, dinner parties and other get togethers throughout the year for the hardworking interns. “[Roberta] was our mother hen. I miss her.” reflects Robin.

After her year with the internship, Robin went on to a successful career with the Ontario public service. She’s now retired from the government, and works as a fitness instructor. “You never know what skills you’ll draw on as life takes you forward – must have started from running up and down all the stairs in the Pink Palace!” she jokes.

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