After four years of behind-the-scenes work, Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins has announced the launch of a program that improves Canada’s relationship with Poland.
The Canada-Poland Youth Internship Program (CPYIP) is the first bilateral internship agreement the Canadian government has made, explained Calkins.
“Canadian Parliament itself has no mechanism in which to engage other parliaments in an intern program.”
“It’s something I kind of do on the side,” said Calkins.
The program hits close to home for Calkins whose wife is a Polish immigrant. There are two interns from Poland who have been able to take advantage of the program since September. They work in the House of Commons assisting MPs and senators or other tasks. There is also an opportunity to conduct research projects. “It’s an educational work experience setting.”
Their internship is for three months and gives them first-hand experience in Canadian politics and Calkins believes there are several benefits to this program.
“Obviously any ties that we have that can be strengthened and built upon in any country are good and I see Poland as a real opportunity,” he said.
“Twenty years after the fall of communism there, Poland still remains a very strong democracy with good principles and good economic growth.”
He suggested shale gas deposits, that Canadian companies are helping the country explore, might also be a benefit. “We’ll help them with their energy independence and it’s going to help, obviously, Canadian companies’ jobs.”
Canadian interns do travel to different parts of the world, but Calkins said there is no reciprocal exchange between governments except with CPYIP.
The not-for-profit Canada-Poland Youth Internship Society oversees the applications and interns with travel costs. Applicants from Poland have need to meet several criteria before being accepted and must be fluent in either English or French. If accepted, the society pays for their flights and accommodation while in Canada.
The interns work in MPs and senators offices where needed or conducting research projects. “It’s an educational work experience setting,” Calkins said.
Some tasks may be more mundane than others but it also gives them a chance to network with others. There are two Canadian interns who are scheduled to travel to Poland in the spring of 2013.