UBC opens boot camp for aspiring politicians

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Leadership Tuesday, May 07, 2013 View Count = 3946

UBC opens boot camp for aspiring politicians

Over the last four years Samara has conducted 79 Exit Interviews with former Members of Parliament to learn what is working, and what isn’t, in the House of Commons.

One thing former MPs brought up regularly was the lack of training they received when entering Parliament. “I think we all did rather well. But were we prepared? No, I don’t think there is any school for preparation for being a Member of Parliament” said one MP. “If you could arrive at Parliament knowing the way it works and all of those things, then you (could) be more productive from day one,” said another. In response to our Member of Parliament Exit Interviews, Parliament did initiate a formal orientation process after the last election, but more needs to be done for people considering entering politics. 

The University of British Columbia’s new Summer Institute for Future Legislators has taken up the challenge.

"We trust politicians with some of the biggest decisions in our lives, but offer and require surprisingly little training to prepare them for government."
         - Max Cameron, Director of UBC's Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions

The non-partisan Summer Institute will provide mentorship and workshops on a range of topics including ethics, Canada’s constitution, lawmaking, budgeting and work/life balance. Guest lecturers will include former Members of Parliament, party leaders, and cabinet ministers from across the political spectrum. Political journalists will also provide advice on media relations and communications.

Professor Max Cameron, the director of UBC’s Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions said the goal is to “give people the skills they need to be effective elected officials before they enter government – and ultimately, to help more good people go into politics.” Cameron adds that they are looking for people of different backgrounds and “the only prerequisites are political aspirations and a readiness to learn from highly experienced practitioners.”

The Summer Institute is currently accepting applications for the program that will begin with Saturday workshops in June and July and end with a week-long model Parliament in August. It costs $475 and students can participate for academic credit (with permission).

One of the MPs Samara interviewed told us, “it takes time to figure out how it (Parliament) works…And [to figure out] what I want to do here. What can I do here? You don’t do that in a month, or a year. It’s an evolution over time."

Why not start now?

Applications are available here.

Related Links

Samara's MP Exit Interviews

What's a Canadian MPs' job? They dunno.

Why are MPs here? Good Question.

Drop and give me 30 private members’ bills: UBC gearing up to run Canada’s first political bootcamp.

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