Learning policy implementation in Ottawa

In our annual field trip to Ottawa, the MPP students learned directly from policymakers.

Taking on the commitment to shape versatile policy leaders of this generation includes immersive experiences. Again this year, we took our Master of Public Policy students on a trip to Ottawa for the unique opportunity to engage directly with Ministers, Members of Parliament, senior public servants, policy analysts, and experts from both governmental and non-governmental spheres. They even met with the Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau! Blending classroom knowledge and real-world policy dynamics, the 2023 Ottawa trip left a lasting impact on these budding professionals.

Meeting with Members of Parliament

The McGill Master of Public Policy students standing around MP Sinclair-Desgagné and MP Charlie Angus at an Ottawa conference room.

The three-day agenda of engaging sessions provided a firsthand look into the world of Canadian policymaking, such as hearing from Members of Parliament for a comprehensive introduction to the Canadian policy landscape. MPP Rebecca Kresta arrived in Ottawa with initial doubts about the intentions and motivations of politicians, but after attending the MP panel of diverse political parties, she said, “I realized that each of them chose to run because they wanted to change something in their community. Whether it was care for the elderly, accessibility of buses, or environmental protection, each of them had a cause that fueled their participation.” Hearing from MPs of various political parties—Charlie Angus of the New Democratic Party, Arielle Kayabaga of the Liberal Party, Kelly McCauley of the Conservative Party, Mike Morrice of the Green Party, and Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné of Bloc Québécois—offered diverse viewpoints on policy issues, reflecting the interplay of ideologies within the Canadian political sphere.

Meeting Cabinet Ministers

The McGill Master of Public Policy students standing around Minister Rechie Valdez at an Ottawa conference room.

Minister Pablo Rodriguez, Minister Rechie Valdez, and Minister Patty Hajdu brought invaluable insights into the high-level governance processes. MPP Adrita Rahman had the chance to hear from these ministers and discuss crucial policy issues affecting the country and the global landscape. From her conversations, she said, “Their perspectives have already proven essential as we contribute to shaping innovative policies for Canada."

Meeting with Policy Analysts

The McGill Master of Public Policy students standing around policy analysts Marie-Bernadette, Marcus Allina,  Justine Tanguay, and Sungmin Yoon.

In our commitment to offer a comprehensive understanding of different career trajectories in policy, meeting with a variety of public servants provides students a better understanding of practical applications, diversification in skills, and the ways policies play out in different areas. MPPs met policy analysts from different federal departments, such as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Treasury Board Secretariat, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. Whether students want to someday dive into program evaluation like Marie-Bernadette Adouko, champion environmental justice like Marcus Allina, work in international affairs like Justine Tanguay, or specialize in economic analysis like Sungmin Yoon, the diverse career trajectories in policy offer many avenues for these aspiring professionals.

Learning about the Policy Community

The McGill Master of Public Policy students standing around members of the Policy Community Partnerships Office, including Catherine Charbonneau, Tamara Girard, and Jeffrey Matt in an Ottawa conference room.

The Policy Community Partnerships Office, including Director Catherine Charbonneau, Manager Tamara Girard, and Policy Analyst Jeffrey Matt, enriched the MPPs' understanding of the practical aspects of policy implementation. Their collective expertise, spanning strategic design, organizational development, policy innovation, and systems analysis provided the MPP students with an immersive understanding of how theoretical frameworks intersect with real-world policy dynamics. 

Hearing from Non-Governmental Organizations

The McGill Master of Public Policy students standing around members of non-governmental organizations Dale Beugin, Aaron Wudrick, and Sarah Kennell.

Non-governmental organizations play a significant role in shaping policies, offering diverse perspectives on policy issues, representing various stakeholders and marginalized groups, which in turn broadens the students' comprehension of societal needs. Dale Beugin, the Executive Vice President at the Canadian Climate Institute; Aaron Wudrick, Director of the Domestic Policy Program at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute; Sarah Kennell, National Director of Public Policy at the Canadian Mental Health Association; and Denise Amyot, President and CEO of Colleges and Institutes Canada, offered insights on working in NGOs and exposed students to advocacy strategies, systems change initiatives, and the intricate processes involved in driving policy shifts outside the governmental sphere.  

Luncheon with Earnscliffe Strategies

The McGill Master of Public Policy students standing around members of Earnscliffe Strategies Velma McColl and Sean Murphy for their luncheon in Ottawa.

The Government Relations Luncheon with Earnscliffe Strategies’ Velma McColl and Sean Murphy was a unique opportunity for students to delve into the world of advocacy and lobbying. Earnscliffe's expertise in crisis management, strategic planning, and stakeholder engagement provided students with a hands-on understanding of policymaking nuances. This partnership offered insights into the workings of governmental, regulatory, and corporate landscapes. It's all about giving students a real taste of how policies get shaped and influenced beyond the traditional governmental structures. 

The goal of this annual trip to Ottawa is to provide students with an exploration that bridges the gap between theory and practice. It gives students a real-world understanding while connecting them with influential figures in the field. In addition to those pictured above, this year the MPPs met with:

  • senior public servants, including Deputy Ministers: Graham Flack from the Treasury Board Secretariat, Jean-François Tremblay from Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Tushara Williams from the Privy Council Office
  • senior executives from the three central agencies: Sachelle Magloire-Prosper of the Privy Council Office, Laura Gorrie of Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and Zoe Marks of Department of Finance Canada
  • Chiefs of Staff to Ministers: Cindy Jenkins, Kyle Harrietha, Rheal Lewis, Colleen Knight, and Johanna Robinson 
  • Canada’s Indo-Pacific Trade Representative Paul Thoppil

By witnessing the complexities of Canadian policymaking firsthand and engaging with diverse voices, from government officials to advocacy groups, this year's trip prepared students for their future roles as versatile and informed policy professionals.


Back to top