Canadian Parliamentary Internship Program
Copyright © Canadian Parliamentary Internship Program run by Dr. James T. Baker. All rights reserved.

Publications about CPIP - Page 2


 Professor Baker publicizes the program through the aforementioned website, personal contacts with colleagues at a number of U.S. colleges and
universities, and personal visits to a number of state Canadian Studies Roundtables [I first learned of the program from a presentation he made at the Ohio
Canadian Studies Roundtable], and recruiting visits to individual colleges and universities [he comes to Ohio State, for example, for a very helpful
informational meeting every October].

  There is not a firm deadline for application, although he likes to have most of the applications by U.S. Thanksgiving and certainly by Christmas.  He
accepts students as they complete satisfactory applications [which include assessments by faculty members who know the applicants].  

  He asks the students if they have preferences for working for a particular party in Parliament and also if they have ideological preferences and particular
areas of policy in which they are interested.  He takes these preferences into account in the winter as he does the work of placing students in specific
offices.  Over the years he has come to know the best offices for interns—where they will get to do real work, where the supervising staff member is good to
work for, where the MP himself/herself is open to interaction with the student, and so on.   Through 2007 Ohio State has had 26 students in the program.  
All but two were very pleased, and often thrilled, with their assignments and their experience on Parliament Hill.  I poked into the cases of the two students
who were not particularly happy and, as I suspected, it was clear they were the problem, not their Canadian hosts or their assignments.  The numbers for
May/June 2008 are not final yet, but I expect about a dozen Ohio State students to go to Ottawa then.

  One of the strongest points of this internship is that Parliament, unlike Congress, has very modest staff resources.  The typical member has one staff
member in Ottawa and limited staff in the riding.  This means that in Ottawa student interns who come knowing something about Canadian politics and
Parliament specifically are immediately put to doing real work.  Answering phones, opening mail, and making coffee all too often characterize the “duties” of
student interns in the U.S. Congress.  That clearly is not the case in Parliament.  Returning students proudly speak of the important committee meetings to
which they are sent to represent their MP.  They also speak glowingly of portions of speeches they wrote that are delivered on the floor of the House of
Commons and appear in Hansard, the official record of the proceedings.  One MP always co-authors a short policy paper with his intern for publication.  
Although five weeks is a short time, the experience is intense and real.

  Professor Baker accompanies the students to Canada and supervises them there.  They live in a dormitory at the University of Ottawa, which is within
walking distance of Parliament.  He also arranges special events for them both in Ottawa and in a few field trips.  In Ottawa they meet with the Speaker of
the House of Commons.  They meet with the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod in the Senate.  They meet U.S. diplomats at the American embassy in
Ottawa.  They take weekend trips to places such as Montreal and Quebec City.

  The overall program involves between 30 and 40 students from, usually, 12-15 or more U.S. universities and colleges in a wide range of states.  In
several years since Ohio State students began participating, the Ohio State contingent has been the largest [9 in 2005, 12 in 2007, and probably about 12
in 2008].  Most of the Ohio State students are political science majors, although a few are double majoring or majoring in a closely related discipline [e.g.,
history, communication, international studies].  We publicize the program widely, with the primary focus on political science students and a secondary focus
on students in history, sociology, geography, international studies, and communication.

  Two people at Ohio State are centrally involved in recruiting potential participants: the internship coordinator in the Department and me.  A specific staff
member in the University’s Office of International Affairs processes the students and knows the program quite well.  We use a variety of channels for getting
information to students.  We use both blanket e-mails to majors and specialized e-mails to students we know and to counselors in other departments.  In the
course I teach on the U.S. Congress each spring I describe the program and try to recruit some of the strongest students to be interested in it.  We also use
alumni of the program who are still in school at Ohio State to help describe and promote the program.  And, of course, Professor Baker’s October visit is a
major event in getting information to students who might be interested.

  Virtually all of the other students in the program come from colleges and universities on the semester system.  This means they are through with spring
semester before they go to Ottawa.  The Ohio State students on a quarter system are, of course, in a different situation, since spring quarter runs from late
March into early June.  Ohio State quickly worked out a favorable accommodation for students who want to participate in the program.   In the winter the
students enrolled in my course on Canadian politics get five hours of graded credit.  That is very straightforward.  In the spring they receive five hours of
satisfactory/unsatisfactory credit for the seminar with me.  The seminar requires considerable reading, a lot of discussion based on reading, and a written
detailed profile of the MP to which each student has been assigned [the seminar runs from late March to early May; Professor Baker has assignments
completed by early to mid-March at the latest].  They get 10 hours of graded credit in Ottawa from Professor Baker based on a detailed portfolio they
construct for him and his consultation with their office.  This gives them 15 hours credit for spring semester [a full load].  The credit for my seminar is
political science credit.  The 10 hours from Ottawa can be used for their major if the relevant department agrees [Political Science counts these ten hours
toward a major].  Professor Baker has noted that the OSU quarter system works very well in helping the students focus on the internship, with considerable
prior academic preparation.