Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
CJPAC Fellowship Conference 2010: A Weekend to Remember

It was a weekend to remember. The four-day CJPAC Fellowship Conference in Ottawa went by in a flash. From January 28-31, CJPAC Fellows from universities across Canada gathered in Ottawa for an exciting and stimulating weekend. The schedule was packed, and we were privileged to hear from many well-respected figures on the political stage.

On Thursday, January 28, after all of the Fellows arrived at the Minto Suites Hotel, we had dinner with Hon. Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas). We were also briefed by Canada-Israel Committee’s CEO Shimon Fogel and Government Relations Research Associate Noah Shack. Dinner was followed by a relaxing night at the Sir John A Pub.

Friday’s schedule was extremely busy. We spent the morning on Parliament Hill, where we heard from politicians of all political stripes. Former Bloc Quebecois MP Richard Marceau spoke to us about working with the Bloc. We also heard from Montreal Liberal MP Marlene Jennings, Minister of Transport John Baird, and NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar.

Furthermore, we were lucky to hear from Conservative MP Randy Hoback in the House of Commons, where he spoke to us about the most important local issues in his riding of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

The morning was capped off with a surprise meeting with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff in the office of the Official Opposition Leader.

Our meetings with all of the politicians culminated with a Question and Answer session and gave us a great opportunity to engage with them in a productive and enlightening dialogue.

Friday afternoon was very busy as well. We heard from staffers who work for Minister Peter Kent and Liberal MP Ken Dryden, and we also had a session about political fundraising. The afternoon concluded with a visit to the Department of Foreign Affairs, where we heard about Canada’s policies regarding Iran and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

On Friday night, the Fellows were treated to a wonderful Shabbat dinner at the Minto Suites.

Saturday’s schedule featured a variety of exciting speakers. We heard from a former representative of the Liberal Party Mark Resnick; Brad Lavigne, the National Director of the federal NDP; and Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre. Each speaker focused on their respective party’s relationship with the Canadian Jewish community.

The day also included a stimulating session with Chad Rogers from Navigator, where we were able to learn about political communication and the ingredients of successful election campaigns. The Fellows also participated in a media training session with Jordan Kerbel of Canadian Jewish Congress and a campus politics workshop  to conclude the afternoon.  Saturday night was spent at Fat Tuesday’s restaurant, where we had dinner and enjoyed drinks.

Sunday morning featured several workshops on election campaigns, where we got to put our skills to use and took part in several election campaign role-plays. We were also joined by CIC’s Director of Government Relations David Cooper who gave us an interesting brief.

While the conference flew by in four days, it is safe to say that all of the CJPAC Fellows had a very stimulating experience in Ottawa. Politically active university students from coast to coast were brought together and had the opportunity to forge new working relationships and friendships. For the CJPAC Fellows of 2009-2010, the Ottawa Conference represents an important step towards active lifelong involvement in the Canadian political arena. For Canada’s Jewish community, the CJPAC Fellows represent many of the community’s future leaders.

– Jonathan Mackenzie
CJPAC Fellow and Law student (Osgoode Hall Law School, York University)

To view photos of the 2010 Fellowship Conference, click here.

To watch a video of CJPAC Fellow Josh Zelikovitz discuss his experience at the conference, Click here.