Policy Lab 2022: MPP Candidates Tackle Real-world Problems

Our Policy Lab provides an opportunity for our students to explore tangible problems put forward by our partner organizations.

Our MPP candidates are hard at work on the 2022 Policy Lab, a chance for them to apply their skills and knowledge in real-world contexts, tackling challenges posed to them by the Max Bell School’s extraordinary network of partner organizations across all sectors. With coaching from professors and other Max Bell School experts, eight teams are addressing pressing problems in diverse issue areas, from trade policy and climate change to housing affordability.

Girls’ Education and Climate Resilience | 60 Million Girls

MPP candidates Pragya Tikku, Fanuel Gebremeskel, Sumaya Ugas, Sugandha Gupta, and Aiza Abid

From left to right, MPP candidates Pragya Tikku, Fanuel Gebremeskel, Sumaya Ugas, Sugandha Gupta, and Aiza Abid

Under coaching from McConnell Visiting Scholar Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, MPP candidates are working on a challenge from 60 Million Girls, delving into the ways in which educating girls can improve a country’s resilience to climate change.

“Our team is working with 60 Million Girls—a Montréal based public foundation—to draw a linkage between girls’ education and a country’s resilience to climate change. Our study is based in India and Nigeria, two regions known to experience the disproportionate effects of climate shocks. Recognizing that there are no borders in a climate crisis, we are seeking to capture best practices and propose recommendations for adaptation and mitigation strategies in neighboring regions as well.”

The Federal Government’s Role in Supporting Housing Affordability | Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

MPP candidates Shweta Menon, Ian Rockwell, Elizabeth Fraser, Nimmi Hamid, and Nandini Paliwal

From left to right, MPP candidates Shweta Menon, Ian Rockwell, Elizabeth Fraser, Nimmi Hamid, and Nandini Paliwal

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has presented a team of MPPs with a daunting challenge: What can the federal government do to support the acquisition and preservation of affordable housing units over the long-term?

Under the coaching of political strategist Brian Topp, Max Bell School students Elizabeth Fraser, Nimmi Hamid, Shweta Menon, Ian Rockwell, and Nandini Paliwal are devising an answer.

“Our Policy Lab with CMHC has been an excellent opportunity to engage with housing policy experts across Canada and beyond. There is no shortage of ideas and strategies for preserving and acquiring affordable rental housing in Canada; our final report will leverage them in an effective and actionable way. Our team's diversity allows us to view housing policy from multiple perspectives, with a human rights-based approach as the focal point. We hope to provide comprehensive policy recommendations for affordable housing that can be sustained for the long term.”

Filling the Healthcare Service Gap for Unhoused People | Old Brewery Mission

MPP candidates Daniel Cruden, Kerry Kittson, Akriti, Tooba Malik, and Juma Omala

From left to right, MPP candidates Daniel Cruden, Kerry Kittson, Akriti, Tooba Malik, and Juma Omala

MPP candidates Daniel Cruden, Kerry Kittson, Akriti, Tooba Malik, and Juma Omala—with support from their coach, Professor Pearl Eliadis—received a challenge from the Old Brewery Mission: "How can we fill the service gap in collaboration with our broader healthcare providers for homeless individuals both from equity-seeking groups and with more complex health issues that require specialized support?"

“Through our Policy Lab we hope to provide recommendations to OBM about how they -- and the housing and public health systems -- can better meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness and alcohol addiction. We're really excited about the opportunity to help such an innovative organization support some of Montreal's most vulnerable citizens.”

The Role of Diverse Entrepreneurs in Montreal’s Ecological Transition | Ville de Montréal

MPP candidates Zola Mirenge, Pangying Peng, Emma Durand, and Munesuishe (Mune) Mafusire

From left to right, MPP candidates Zola Mirenge, Pangying Peng, Emma Durand, and Munesuishe (Mune) Mafusire

How can the City of Montreal educate and mobilize its diverse entrepreneurs and include them in the ecological transition? More specifically, how can the City ensure their participation in the transition from a linear economy to one that is more circular?

These are the questions posed to MPPs Emma Durand, Munesuishe (Mune) Mafusire, Zola Mirenge, and Pangying Peng by the Ville de Montréal. With guidance from Dr. Justin Leroux, the team’s research and analysis are well underway.

“Our Policy Lab envisions the intersection between circular economy, entrepreneurship, and diversity for Montreal. The most rewarding part of our work has been talking to the diverse entrepreneurs of Montreal and realising that our project has the potential to make a real impact.”

Policy Interventions to Support Clean Hydrogen | Canadian Nuclear Association

MPP candidates Montajima Tasnim, Umer Farooq, Jaclyn Victor, and Muhammed Abbas

From left to right, MPP candidates Montajima Tasnim, Umer Farooq, Jaclyn Victor, and Muhammed Abbas

For their Policy Lab, Max Bell School students Muhammed Abbas, Umer Farooq, Montajima Tasnim, and Jaclyn Victor—with coaching from climate researcher Jonathan Arnold—are identifying what types of government policies are needed (if any) to scale up the production of clean hydrogen in Canada.

The Canadian Nuclear Assocation presented this critical and timely issue to the team earlier this year.

“Clean hydrogen could generate transformational economic and environmental opportunities for Canada in the global low-carbon transition, yet the private sector faces a range of market barriers to scaling up production to fully capture these opportunities. We hope to explore how government policies can support the scaling up of clean hydrogen to ultimately support Canada's plan for a net-zero future.”

Mobilizing Climate Change Adaptation Solutions in Government | Intact Foundation

From left to right, MPP candidates Shabbir Shawkut, Munjir Ahmed, Caroline Merner, and Juan Roa.

With guidance from instructor Ken Boessenkool, Max Bell School students Munjir Ahmed, Caroline Merner, Juan Roa, and Shabbir Shawkut are hard at work on their Policy Lab, addressing a challenge posed by the Intact Foundation: What proactive measures can Intact Financial Corporation (IFC) take to mobilize climate change adaptation solutions with municipal, provincial and federal levels of government in Canada?

“The Policy Lab has helped us enhance our teamwork and strategic engagement skills, as well as our understanding of Canada’s position on climate adaptation. We hope that, at the end of this process, we’ll be able to share actionable policy solutions to help improve approaches to flood adaptation in Canada.”

Cleaner Fuels in Rural and Peri-urban Colombia | Government of Colombia – Ministry of Mines and Energy

MPP candidates Stephanie Scarlett, Jainaba Beyai, Paola Salas Paredes, and Raul Scorza Figueroa

From left to right, MPP candidates Stephanie Scarlett, Jainaba Beyai, Paola Salas Paredes, and Raul Scorza Figueroa

Nations around the world are working on the complicated task of phasing out pollution-intensive sources of energy. The government of Colombia has enlisted MPPs Jainaba Beyai, Paola Salas Paredes, Stephanie Scarlett, and Raul Scorza Figueroa to help. This team of students—with coaching from Dr. Nii Addy—is addressing the challenge of how the Colombian government can encourage the substitution of firewood with cleaner fuels in rural and peri-urban areas.

“Our Policy Lab is a unique opportunity to explore the complexities of the policy process through a research question that many governments around the world ask themselves: how can a feasible transition away from firewood and towards cleaner cooking fuels in rural areas be encouraged? By collaborating closely with our sponsor - the Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy - and working together as a supportive team, we have been able to connect with local and international experts who paint a nuanced picture filled with trade-offs, challenges, and varying pathways to success. Despite this complexity, the Policy Lab has also allowed us to strive towards our shared and personal goals, helping us further develop our skills along the way (through meaningful engagement with stakeholders, or through incorporating equitable approaches to policy analysis, for example). For these reasons, we are confident that our Policy Lab will see us deliver an insightful policy brief that we can feel proud of, while enjoying a fully hands-on component of the Max Bell School MPP.”

The Canada-China Trade Relationship: Balancing Risks and Opportunities | Export Development Canada

MPP candidates Tenzin Dasel, Michelle Hui, Jason Kreutz, Phaedra de Saint-Rome, and Naveen Kanwadia

From left to right, MPP candidates Tenzin Dasel, Michelle Hui, Jason Kreutz, Phaedra de Saint-Rome, and Naveen Kanwadia

With coaching from Dr. Luc Vallée, a team of MPP students is navigating a thorny question posed by Export Development Canada: How should Canada balance the trade opportunities with China while managing the growing number of trade-compromising factors?

To devise answers, Tenzin Dasel, Phaedra de Saint-Rome, Naveen Kanwadia, Michelle Hui, and Jason Kreutz are researching the complexities of the Canada-China relationship.

“We are working to develop a set of recommendations for EDC balancing the opportunities and challenges for Canada in its trade strategy with China. With Canadian small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in mind, our key insights and recommendations will incorporate economics, geopolitics, history, and a healthy dose of Canadian values that we develop through research and stakeholder interviews. Our goal is to successfully develop a made-in-Canada approach to this question that also leverages the international experiences of our globally-minded-and-rooted team members.”

Stay tuned for the teams’ final reports, which will be published later this summer.

Policy Lab 2021

In these reports and presentations, created by our second cohort of MPP students, read about policy solutions for addressing housing discrimination, educational gender inequality, the social acceptability of drones, and more.

Three panel image of a jar filled with dried items, a light rail train and windmills

Policy Lab 2020

A series of policy reports by our first class of MPP students on the circular economy, power purchase agreements, Canada's legal Cannabis industry, Canadian innovation policies, public transit, and affordable housing. 

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