It has been a pleasure to work with MPP Joel Harden for my first MPP placement. MPP Harden represents the riding of Ottawa Centre and is the opposition Critic for Transit and Active Transportation. He is also a member of the Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure, and Cultural Policy. It has been inspiring to get to know MPP Harden as a leader who is just as passionate about advancing the interests of his constituents outside the Chamber as he is in the Chamber. Throughout my placement, I have had the privilege of being involved in a large range of work including question pitches, research on local issues, and the introduction of a Private Member’s Bill.
I had the opportunity to visit Ottawa Centre and participate in community initiatives and events. It was an honor to meet constituents firsthand and put faces and names to the community members for whom we work at Queen’s Park. During my constituency visit, I was able to witness MPP Harden’s dedication to listening to and addressing the concerns and needs of his constituents. This experience helped me understand that while MPPs are policymakers, they are first and foremost community leaders. As I saw MPP Harden answering calls to his constituency office himself and being hands-on with every case that constituents brought to his office, I quickly learned that there are various ways MPPs can use their position, influence, and resources to make a positive impact in their communities. While there is much work to do in the legislature, constituents rely on MPPs to not only debate on their behalf, but to also be on the ground where issues arise in real time to help their individual cases. In this way, my visit provided further insight into the different avenues through which MPPs improve the lives of their communities, even outside of Queen’s Park.
Overall, my time with MPP Harden has been nothing short of eye-opening. Not only have I learned much about the role of the opposition in the legislature as well as the inner workings of the legislature, but I also learned a lot about what good leadership and representation look like. I am certain that these lessons will guide me long after my OLIP days are over. For this, I would like to give a huge thanks to MPP Harden for his trust and support, as well as the rest of the team at Ottawa Centre for including me in their work with open arms.