Friday, May 14, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Thursday, May 13, 2010)

Watson Island's financials still offer concerns, Labour troubles pop up at School District 52 and Nathan Cullen finds the Gulf of Mexico disaster to be a timely reminder of our own offshore oil debate, some of the items of interest for Thursday's news cycle.

Daily News, front page, headline story
JOB SHADOWING THE LOCAL MLA-- NORTH COAST STYLE-- A look at a program that features University students to examine the day to day workings of MLA's in the province, with the Daily News looking at North Coast MLA Gary Coons shadow,  University of Victoria graduate student Kat McBride who is learning of the issues and local concerns that land in Mr. Coons office on a daily basis.

Another day and another explanation as to how the ongoing maintenance and assorted costs of the Watson Island  site are  being funded by the city. With the Northern View having provided their report on the issue on Wednesday, the Daily News tackles the debate on Thursday, with Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne asking the questions, the city's Dan Rodin outlined the generally accepted accounting principles currently in play, principles that seem to be repeating some of the past methods of financing today on the promise of tomorrow.

As the school year comes to an end, the labour climate within School District 52 seems to be heating up. Changes in the way in which the District is staffing positions this spring has resulted in strained relations between teachers and the board, with teachers taking to pink anti bullying tee shirts at a recent Board meeting to move forward their points of concern on the issue.

The Sports section features a look at the upcoming  Kaien Island Slow pitch season, one which sees downsizing on the agenda as the sports community in town suffers the talent drain that our local economy has presented of late, with more one time residents now joining the ranks of former Rupertites.

(Daily News Archive Items for May 13, 2010)

Job Shadowing the local MLA North coast style
Watson Island on the books
Better stock up on healthy bulk foods
Teacher - Board relations becoming strained
PRSS serving desserts and drama

The Northern View
NDP energy critic says oil leak similar to the Gulf of Mexico would be worse in Canada -- With the Gulf of Mexico disaster as a timely focus point, Nathan Cullen, the NDP MP for Bulkley Valley Skeena, who doubles as the NDP energy critic offers up his thoughts of concern over potential oil exploration off the coast of British Columbia (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
CFTK had no new items to post to their website on Thursday

CBC News British Columbia, Daybreak North
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now.

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Daily News, front page, headline story
Job shadowing the local MLA North Coast style
By Monica Lamb-Yorski 
Staff Writer 
The Daily News
Thursday, May 13, 2010

 A 35-year-old program continues to give university grads in B.C. the opportunity to shadow MLAs at home in their ridings.

Kate McBride, a sociology graduate from University of Victoria, has been interning with North Coast MLA Gary Coons this week, and feels privileged. “We drew names to see who would get to come up here because we all wanted to. This one is a major draw. It’s so different than anything in Victoria. You get to see so much more of the coast and there’s so much more going on here,” McBride said Monday at Coons’ office.

McBride is one of ten interns spending six months with government. Five are with the NDP - the other five are with the Liberals.

Laughing, McBride admitted she had done nothing with politics up until the internship.

 “I was terrified of politics,” she said. “I was scared of politics because I didn’t understand them and this was the best way to understand.”

During the first five weeks of the program, she was with the Ministry of Community Development. McBride’s focus was inter-government relations, sitting in on meetings and learning how decisions are made. “Figuring out the chain of command and how things happen,” she explained.

 When the legislature is in session, McBride and the other interns are very busy doing research.

 “We do all kinds of things, especially on the opposition side. Technically I’m not NDP, I’m Opposition. It just happens that NDP is opposition, so I’m researching for the NDP,” she commented.

 Because the opposition is not nearly as well funded as the government, they rely on the interns to research for budget debates, questions for estimates and doing fact boxes and prepping reports for MLAs and 

 “It’s really rewarding, because sometimes you will be watching estimates and the member will email you and you’ll email a question back that they should ask and your questions are being asked,” she said, adding that they aren’t treated like interns, but as research staff.

As time goes on, her admiration grows and grows. “The MLAs are so genuine. I’m impressed with the quality of people I work for. They are people I can look up to and say I want to emulate, not necessarily in politics, but in life. These are people that are here for the right reasons,” she commented.

The intern positions are paid, and according to McBride, that’s important.

 “It’s good that they pay us because otherwise it would be just rich kids doing it. I would encourage everyone to apply,” she said.

To qualify for the program, applicants write an essay and fill out an application and submit a resume. They come from every university in the province. and this year 76 have applied. Applicants are interviewed by six government officials and ten are selected.

According to McBride, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation George Abbot was one of the first interns.

McBride arrived in Prince Rupert Friday evening to see the community in advance of her week-long placement. She participated in the Glory Days run and attended the fundraising roast held for Coons on Saturday evening at the Fishermen’s Hall.

On Monday afternoon McBride was reading the coffee table book published by the Archives for Prince Rupert’s centennial.

 “I’m doing my homework,” she said. Earlier that day she’d gone to Tim Hortons with Coons, meeting many of his constituents. “We were there for an hour.”

They went to the Alternative School, where she learned a friend from Victoria is one of the new teachers, and met the other staff members.

 “I get to see what goes on when the MLAs go home. Here’s our itinerary for this week. We’re going to Bella Bella and Bella Coola and it’s non-stop with bands, and schools and public meetings and private meetings. It’s ongoing discussions with people.”

On Tuesday, she was accompanying Coons to the Nass Valley for the tenth anniversary of the Nisga’a Treaty. 

When asked if she has a political persuasion, McBride paused. “I guess I’m a little more left. I think most people my age are and most people that go to UVIC are.”

A few days into her stay in Prince Rupert her expectations have been exceeded.

“Gary and his wife Lois are so welcoming and fun. Gary talks to everybody and between the two of them they know everybody in town. I’ve got to meet and talk to so many people all ready.

 “I was up early on Sunday morning so I walked to the closest church for a service and met people who were at his roast and we had lunch and they drove me home. It’s a small town and everybody’s been really wonderful,” she explained.

The pace of work in the intern program is intense when the government is in session, so McBride sees the shadowing aspect as an opportunity to have a break.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.

In the future, she doesn’t know what’s in store career-wise, but is thinking the non-government sector would be ideal.

 “Getting to see how government works helps with non-government work because often that’s the piece that’s missing. They don’t understand the funding and the grants and how politics works. I feel like this is a really good prep for that and feel like I have the inside edge.”

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