In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Small world story

Posted 5/7/2009 by Senator Grant Mitchell

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Thirty-five years ago I spent a year working in Parliament as a Parliamentary Intern. This is a scholarship program where 10 Canadian university graduates each year are selected to work in Parliament. They each work half the year for an opposition back-bencher and half for a government back-bencher.

The group I was in organized seminars with many politicians and officials. The highlight of these was a lunch at 24 Sussex Drive with Pierre Trudeau. I will never forget it. He was so intense and intelligent. He was attentive to our many questions and took great care to honour them with thoughtful answers. After this, I was convinced that his reputation of arrogance was greatly exaggerated. I found him to be quite shy which might have been perceived by some as arrogance.

We also travelled to London, Paris, Washington, Toronto, and Quebec, hosted by each government, to study their legislatures and political systems.

I chose to work with two Francophone MPs so I could learn French – and I made some progress. The two were Eymard Corbin, a Liberal from NB, and Andre Fortin, the Creditiste from Quebec. Mr. Fortin, unfortunately, was killed some years later driving back to his riding.

Here is the small world part. Mr. Corbin went on to become a Senator. And here I am sitting with him. Unfortunately, he is soon to retire. At that time, I will be given his seat in the Senate Chamber. Full circle.

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