[It’s surprising] how much impact you can have in an office...how much room there is to explore and grow.
-Maia Knight (2021/22 Intern)
Since its inception in September 2018, the Parliamentary Internship for the Environment (PIE) program has sought to equip the next generation of environmental leaders with the skills, experience and political know-how they need to enact change, while providing invaluable support for current environmental champions in office.
This world-class educational program provides 10-month, full-time internships to outstanding youth from across Canada. Interns, who are placed with Senators or MPs from all official parties, grow their leadership capacity through experiential political learning and participation in GreenPAC-curated curriculum, mentorship and personalized learning supports.
To drive environmental change at the scale and pace required, we need to use political levers and we need to be investing in the next generation of leaders who know how to make sure those levers get used and ensure that youth perspectives get heard as policies get built for the world they are inheriting.
PIE is responding to this head-on, helping young leaders step past the usual pathway of volunteering on a campaign and hoping a post-election job arises in Ottawa. Instead, Interns are getting merit-based opportunities to get involved with environmental politics.
Interns are gaining hands-on experience with political processes and decisionmaking, from researching policy solutions to meeting with constituents, to analyzing bills, to preparing question period responses, to helping draft bills. Combined with GreenPAC's investment in their professional skills, they are leaving the program with rare knowledge and readiness to lead change.
Year 4 of the PIE program was marked by circumstantial challenges, innovation and growth. Due to the fall election, Interns could not immediately start with MP partners; they instead worked on GreenPAC-directed learning projects and supported environmental initiatives in the Senate until MPs were sworn in. The program also demonstrated resilience as it dealt with logistical impacts arising from ongoing uncertainty from COVID-19 the trucker occupation of Ottawa and leadership changes in the Conservative Party.
Some notable successes in Year 4 include the expansion of the program from four to seven placements, as well as the formal launch of a specialized program stream in sustainable agriculture and themed low-carbon economy placement. Our sustainable agriculture stream matched an intern and a MP who both come from Prairie provinces and hold expertise in sustainable agriculture. We integrated this focus into cross-cohort learning too, raising broader awareness of the significant potential of the agricultural sector to aid in conservation and sequester carbon through regenerative practices, and the importance of rural perspectives in environmental policymaking.
We also trialled a placement of our first-ever Intern in the Senate of Canada, which was a huge success. The creation of the Senators for Climate Solutions Group, which has brought together over 40 Senators with the goal of increasing climate literacy and leadership in the Senate, was supported by three of our Interns and officially launched in the fall of 2022.
(Clockwise from top left): PIE Alumni Tesicca Truong, Joshua Swift, Alison Gu, and Jesse Hitchcock discussing environmental political leadership at FLIP 2.0. Read more about FLIP 2.0 in Events.
In year 4, we expanded our alumni engagement, facilitated an ongoing relationship between with our alums and Interns, and hosted the program’s second annual FLIP Summit in January 2022. A full-day, online public event, FLIP 2.0 brought together an impressive list of current and former decision-makers, scientists, policy leaders, and youth/nonprofit advocates for a dialogue around the theme: "breaking political barriers to environmental leadership in Canada."
GreenPAC is continuing our work in advancing the anti-oppressive agenda throughout our processes. In Year 5 (22/23), GreenPAC will have its most diverse cohort yet, with 90% of Interns identifying as belonging to one or more equity-seeking groups. In 2022-2023, we will launch our first specialized stream for Indigenous Interns and start our second cohort for Sustainable Agriculture, elevating the leadership and voices of underrepresented youth in the political decision-making sphere. We will also continue our work in supporting the Senate of Canada and Members of Parliament in their capacity to integrate a climate lens throughout their work, as we collectively advance Canada's environmental agenda through our PIE Program.
[PIE Interns were] essential members of the team in getting Senators for Climate Solutions up and running.
-Senator Mary Coyle
"[The intern] was an important member of the team whose assistance on day to day matters and on longer term strategic planning was super helpful…. From the beginning, they were working on a number of different things, House and committee research, press releases, social media, outreach to local and national organizations, and [they were] incredible throughout all of that work."
MP Leah Gazan
"[The intern’s] intelligence, professionalism and positive attitude served us all well at this critical historical moment [for our team].
[They] significantly contributed to educating [colleagues] and helping us develop our own credibility."
Sen. Mary Coyle
"It was a joy and privilege to have a GreenPAC intern working with our office last year! Our intern provided much-needed support with legislative research, correspondence, monitoring House events and committees, and helped me prepare for many speeches and interventions. As a new MP, it was crucial to have the expertise and dedication our intern brought to the team."
MP Mike Morrice