Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

Mannkal Student Internship Blog

Institute for Liberal Studies

Georgina Due – Dinner, DC, Discussions and Departure | Week 8

Georgina Due, 27 February 2017

A Mannkal Scholarship is a promise that for the next several weeks you will be incapable of feeling boredom. This week has certainly been no exception, packed with activities every waking hour.

Volunteering with SFL friends at MLI Dinner

It all started with a delightful evening spent volunteering at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute Confederation Dinner. While a place at the function normally retails for $150, as volunteers we freely enjoyed the in-depth discussions about how far Canada has come in its 150 years since confederation.

This included the challenges and opportunities the nation will face in the future, and an enthusiastic John A. Macdonald impersonator who acted quite appalled when he was unable to check-in under the first Prime Minister’s name.

International Students for Liberty Conference 2017!

The following morning we had a brisk 4.30am wake-up so that we could begin our ten hour road trip down to Washington DC for the International Students for Liberty Conference. While not on our official Mannkal itinerary, some friends we made from the local campus Students for Liberty group were especially keen to have us tag along.

The conference was a spectacular affair, with everything from video messages from Rand Paul to libertarian rap performances. Choosing between the numerous breakout session talks was especially difficult when topics like freedom of speech on campus, whether libertarians should support a Universal Basic Income, and live skype streams with a renowned refugee writer affected by Trump’s recent travel bans were all being held concurrently.

Mannkal Interns at Capitol Building in DC

Admiring Justice Outside The Supreme Court of The United States of America

Mannkal Interns Outside The Supreme Court

After another ten hours’ worth of political banter, snacking and sleeping, we arrived back in Ottawa just in time for a bit of shut eye before we needed to arise again for the enrichment program Mannkal had planned for us this week. This program brought all the Canadian scholars together for three days of jam-packed activities intended to improve our understanding of Australia-Canada relations.

We spent an entire day chatting with Mannkal board director, and incredibly knowledgeable individual, Andrew Pickford. He challenged us with thought provoking interrogations about why we thought certain policies were good or bad, explained how the geopolitical landscape of Canada had evolved over time, and how classical liberal ideas had transformed with it.

The following days were consumed with a visit to the High Commission of Australia, dining with an MP at parliamentary restaurant, an intimate meeting with a former advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and many more stimulating experiences.

One activity I would single out as especially rewarding was watching Andrew present to a group of economists and analysts from the Finance Department about China’s Grand Energy Strategy, where I felt we witnessed the process moving ideas from think-tanks into broader circulation in a practical manner.

Canadian Interns visiting The High Commission of Australia in Ottawa

Canadian Interns meeting with MP Tom Kmiec

My last day in Ottawa was no chilled affair, I attended both Atlas Network Training and Manning Centre Training, focused around how to look your best and tackle difficult questions in TV, radio and print interviews as well as how best to promote the personal brand of a politician.

Needless to say – I am exhausted. However, tomorrow morning I will be flying back to sunny Perth with a plethora of new knowledge, skills and life long friends, more than I could have ever imagined gaining from my time here in Canada.

I can unashamedly say that Mannkal are in the business of changing lives, and I would sincerely like to thank Ron Manners, the Mannkal team and the Institute for Liberal Studies for deciding to change mine.

Georgina Due – Mountains and Myth-Busting in Montreal | Week 7

Georgina Due, 20 February 2017

Ottawa Interns on Ice

Another week, another stirring lecture!

This week we welcomed Dr. Vincent Geloso to discuss the myths and realities surrounding Fidel Casto’s communist regime. He explained how Cuba had managed to greatly reduce the number of fatal road accidents, drastically lower infant mortality rates, and entirely eradicate the obesity problem!

The solution was simple, just ensure your citizens are too poor to afford cars, are forced to live on rations so they can’t overeat, and that your doctors are pressured into fudging numbers to meet unreasonable infant mortality reduction goals set by the government!

He continued by posing a question to the audience asking if they would really be willing to give up these basic liberties, and more, for the sake of an extra 5 years of life expectancy. What followed was a stunning display of exactly zero raised hands. This is a perfect example of how as human beings we value not just a long life, but the quality of the life we lead. And that the quality of that life is directly related to the number of individual liberties we enjoy.

The Beautiful Mount Royal

A last-minute trip to Montreal this weekend marked my fifth visit to this wondrous city so far. Trekking up the 400+ steps to the top of Mount Royal was difficult, but still managed to be rewarding, even despite a view almost entirely obscured by snowfall. The beauty of a forest blanketed in snow was something I had not yet seen with my own eyes, but the sight is now etched in my mind as one of the most incredible things I have ever seen.

Being able to pursue my thirst for knowledge in such an awe-inspiring setting has been both a blessing and a motivator to protect the liberties of people to peacefully enjoy our world.

I was quite proud of my Valentine's Day post on our Facebook page this week...

Tomorrow marks my last official day of work for the ILS, and I am currently making mental notes to do one final raid of our incredible bookshelf for interesting titles I can acquire when I get back home, beg Matt to live stream all the incredible upcoming talks we have planned for after I leave that I will be missing, and try come to terms with how appallingly fast the time has gone by.

It sure is a good thing we still have the International Students for Liberty Conference in DC to get excited about this weekend – I am hoping this excitement will make the 10 hour car ride there and back a little more bearable.

Ottawa, we hardly knew ye

Georgina Due – Inspiration, InDesign and Ice Sculptures | Week 6

Georgina Due, 13 February 2017

Celebrating 150 Years of Canada

Each Summer the ILS run a fellowship program that connects passionate students with a Libertarian organisation for an eight-week internship. I have been pleasantly surprised at how inspiring it has been to sort through the applications we have received so far.

Seeing so many like-minded students share a passion for learning more about the ideas of liberty helps to restore a bit of faith in humanity. As part of the application form, applicants are also asked to describe in 100-200 words the book that most influenced the way they think about the world.

No doubt, my personal reading list has exploded with new entries of books that I am jealous I don’t have the time to read sooner (As has been the theme of my internship so far!).

My Freedom Week Postcard Design

The postcards I designed to advertise our Freedom Week program to also arrived this week. My fears about my debut as a graphic design artist into the print world were somewhat relieved when I was actually relatively happy with how they turned out.

The postcards will be distributed to potential applicants, donors and Freedom Week participants for 2017.

Ice Sculptures at Winterlude

Walking home this week has been a particular treat. Our accommodation is conveniently located just down the road from the incredible ‘Crystal Garden’, a collection of intricate ice sculptures from artisans who have travelled across the world to compete in this year’s Winterlude contest.

Every year Ottawa celebrates the season of Winter with their festival of ‘Winterlude’, a spectacular display of uniquely winter activities in the heart of the capital. As part of the festival, the Rideau canal is transformed into the world’s longest ice rink, measuring over 7.8km. We tried to skate on it, but the line to rent skates was 100 people long on Saturday, so we’ll try again later, eh?

Walking along the Canal...

Georgina Due – War, World Views and Washrooms | Week 5

Georgina Due, 6 February 2017

This weekend James and I Ubered to the Canadian War Museum, being too cowardly to walk through the -23 degree weather which I’m told is ‘normal’ for this time of year. The exhibition covered everything from the first recorded death by armed violence in Canadian history several hundred years ago, to the country’s most recent involvement in conflicts.

I was reminded once again how similar Australia and Canada are, comparing our history of the Frontier Wars to those of the First People’s. I really value how visiting museums in foreign countries can help build your world view, and this is why I have been especially anxious to immerse myself in Canadian history and culture as much as possible during my stay here.

However, I will admit that learning to say ‘Washroom’ instead of ‘Toilet’ and ‘Ketchup’ instead of ‘Tomato Sauce’ has been a challenge.

I Liked the Tanks the Most

Back in the office I was given the task of adding some new books we had received to our proud bookcase. I may have spent a little longer than I needed to sort through them all, getting far too distracted flipping through their pages and noting down intriguing essays and novels I would have to come back and finish.

I happened to read the first page of an essay written over 300 years ago and was confronted by how perfectly I felt it described the current state of political affairs in America. No doubt, it went on my list.

Getting Distracted Sorting Through Books

I have also become extremely jealous of how passionate the Universities I have visited here are about embracing ideas. Just yesterday I attended a talk at the University of Ottawa regarding proposed changes to plain packaging laws for cigarettes, as well as a debate on ‘How Canada should respond to ISIS’ that we were hosting later that evening, which was packed to its 100-student capacity.

The enthusiasm of students to learn about controversial ideas and tackle big issues has been really inspiring, and I hope I can encourage more engaging debates and discussions to be held at my own University when I return to Australia.

ISIS Debate Packed to Capacity

Georgina Due – International Politics and Poutine| Week 4

Georgina Due, 30 January 2017

Outside The Parliament of Canada

Matt and I took a day trip to Montreal this week to host a debate at McGill University for students interested in International Law. After a short two-hour drive, a few road blocks, and an ensuing discussion about how Montreal’s construction projects are riddled with corruption, we arrived in the heart of Quebec.

Matt had a lunch meeting to attend before the debate, so I enlisted a local friend I made at our seminar the previous week as my tour guide. Cam was quick to reinforce the construction corruption theory, alleging bodies were actually buried in the concrete columns of high rise freeways. Oh, Government.

We then had the pleasure of meeting our debaters for the evening, Professors Jason MacLean and Bruce Pardy, two renowned legal scholars. Before the debate had even begun, I was already so inspired by their knowledge and experience that I started considering academia as a career path. The debate itself was so engaging that I forgot to take any pictures of the event (luckily Matt remembered!).

Debate on International Law (Photo Credit: Matt)

Their main subject of contention was whether bodies such as the United Nations should have a right to set rules for countries that do not voluntarily subscribe to their conventions, and whether the wide social disapproval imposed by not signing such conventions actually effectively imposes these rules on nation states anyway.

Question time ran right up until the next class, continued through a long session at the University Bar, and which I rounded out myself at the intimate dinner I was privileged to share with the two Professors and Matt.

This week James and I also visited our first Ice Hockey game! Not only did the teams tie, go into overtime, then penalty shootouts, but our home team of Ottawa won! And as if we couldn’t get any more touristy, we tried our first batch of Poutine at the hockey game. I can confirm to my Australian compatriots that the addition of cheese curds to chips and gravy is an excellent combination that we should promptly steal.

The Ultimate Tourist

The Ottawa 67s in Action!

Georgina Due – From Ubers to UBIs | Week 3

Georgina Due, 23 January 2017

Last Thursday night I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Michael Munger, as we drove to the lecture he was due to present at. The lecture focused on the revolution of the Sharing Economy with the ILS co-hosting his talk, entitled ‘Tomorrow 3.0’, with the University of Carleton’s Economic Society. Professor Munger argued there had been two enormous revolutions in human history so far, the Neolithic revolution and the Industrial revolution. The third, he argued, would be the Sharing Revolution. He talked about how the emergence of services such as Uber, AirBnb and something called Part Time Pooch, allowed many people to share one product rather than buying a car, apartment or pet individually. He argued that over time this will greatly reduce the number of goods we need to buy ourselves, and the amount of space we will need to store those goods.

The services that facilitate this sharing, such as Uber, will lead this revolution by selling reductions in transaction costs. This means Uber makes it way easier for you and your Uber driver to find each other and engage in a mutually beneficial exchange than if that service didn’t exist. Can you imagine waving a cardboard sign around in the streets of Perth with your desired location and suggested fee until a car drives by that likes your offer? With Uber, that effort greatly reduces to just a few taps on our phone. Now we can engage in a mutually beneficial exchange that we otherwise wouldn’t have – that’s the power of reductions in transactions costs.

Apart from my own independent evaluation that the lecture was incredible, the free pizza ran out within five minutes and the lecture theatre was packed to capacity – I’d call that a success.


Professor Munger Presenting his Talk


Luckily for me, I would also be spending the next three days with Professor Munger as he would be leading the discussion at the Socratic Seminar on Civil Society, Mutual Aid and the Welfare State that we were hosting in our office this weekend. For those who are unaware, Socratic Seminars are a special format of discussion that encourages a group conclusion to be made about particular issues through the input of the student’s own opinions, rather than those of the discussion leader. The ILS believe that people learn best when they are active participants in a discussion among peers.

Our group of eleven eager students engaged in discussions based on our assigned 200 page prior readings, involving topics ranging from the morality of the welfare state to the character of the poor. One particularly contentious topic was whether we should introduce a Universal Basic Income, which involves the replacement of most of the current welfare system with an equal and unconditional sum of money that is paid out annually to all residents of a nation, regardless of their current income. The argument for this initiative revolved around reducing the disincentive to work at the margin between receiving welfare and not receiving welfare that currently exists in a means tested system, as well as providing the poor with more autonomy with how they manage their finances.


The Socratic Seminar Gang


I wish I could relay all the incredibly stimulating conversations that we had during the seminar this weekend, but I shall instead conclude that it was an incredibly valuable learning experience that I will not quickly forget.

Georgina Due – Law and Freedom Conference | Week 2

Georgina Due, 16 January 2017

This weekend I attended the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law and Freedom Conference. The day began with a four hour train ride at 7 o’clock in the morning to Toronto. The journey flew by as I eagerly anticipated the conference. The conference was fantastic and it left me with plenty of interesting ideas to ponder on the long ride back home.

Law and Freedom Conference Begins!

The speakers at the conference dealt with a wide range of issues. From the concerning practice of trading away rights of individual privacy with ever encroaching surveillance in the name of security, to the application of free trade policy between provinces. The latter issue arose from a case where a man was arrested for attempting to carry beer he brought in one province of Canada into his own province, despite the apparent constitutional guarantee of free trade within section 121 of the Canadian Constitution Act.  As an Australian, I felt personally outraged.

On a far less laughable note, the conference also addressed the terrifying state of Civil Forfeiture Laws, which allow the confiscating of property involved in the performing or proceeds of crime. One such case is that of the Reilly’s. They had set up a home specifically suited to helping drug addicts to recover from their addictions, but given drugs had been consumed on their property, the state thought it appropriate to confiscate their property under Civil Forfeiture Laws.

Other shocking problems were revealed as the conference progressed, such as the violation of the right to Freedom of Expression on University Campuses. A growing number of institutions in both the United States and Canada have created 3 by 3 meter ‘Free Speech Zones’ to restrict what can be said on the remainder of Campus. There was also a hot debate on whether physicians should have the right to deny certain procedures or prescriptions to patients due to their own contentious objections.

We also made time to travel Toronto in the few spare hours we had. From taking many photos in front of Toronto’s copy-cat Time Square, the Yonge-Dundas Square, to taking many more photos 450m high in the sky from the CN tower.

TORONTO

Copy-Cat Times Square

View from The CN Tower

Back in the office, we’re still eagerly preparing for this weekend’s Socratic Seminar, and I’ve taken over our Facebook page, so look out for plenty of corny libertarian jokes and cartoons. I also celebrated my birthday in the office this week – and walked into this lovely little set-up on my desk! I can’t brag to you enough how incredibly nice people Matt and Janet are, and I feel pretty lucky to be spending the next two months working with them.

I still can't get over how nice they are...

Georgina Due | Week 1

Georgina Due, 9 January 2017

My Canadian adventure kicked off by trying to get into the wrong side of an Uber from the airport. After over thirty hours of flying and very little sleep, it’s little surprise I forgot the cars here are built to drive on the right hand side of the road. But, after driving down the highway and staring in awe out the window and the white wonderland that I would be spending the next two months in, I knew it had been worth every sleepless hour. The other Mannkal intern here in Ottawa, James and I had decided to spend the New Years Eve weekend in Montreal.

Montreal is an amazingly picturesque city located just two hours drive out of the nation’s capital, Ottawa. We had an incredible time touring the city with other Australians staying at our hostel, visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art, Notre-Dame Basilica and admiring some of the best Street Art that I’ve ever seen.

Museum of Contemporary Art Montreal

Exploring the Street Art with Australian Hostel friends in Montreal

By Monday night it was time to head back to Ottawa and check into our apartment for the next eight weeks. We were greeted by the most stunning view and free Netflix – what more could we ask for? But if I thought Canada was already treating me well, it was nothing compared to starting my internship the next day with the Institute for Liberal Studies (ILS) here in Ottawa.

The ILS is managed daily by Matt and Janet Bufton, two individuals who not only have an inspiring passion for educating students about the ideas of classical liberalism, but are phenomenally nice people. It was easy to get excited about all the events they were telling me they had coming up in their calendar.

For instance, next weekend they will be running one of their famous Socratic Seminars, where over a dozen students will be engaged in intimate discussion about classical Libertarian ideas for an entire weekend. This particular seminar will revolve around ideas concerning Civil Society, Mutual Aid and the Welfare State. My most daunting task so far has definitely been choosing the restaurants where these students will meet to eat following the seminars – stay tuned next week to find out if they liked my choices.

I think I'm going to like it here

I’m really looking forward to all the exciting events we have planned in the coming weeks.

Nick Vernon | Week 7: Goodbye Canada!

Nick Vernon, 10 August 2016


The Canadian Flag flying proud across from Rideau Canal.

Alas, this was my last week at the Institute for Liberal Studies. It has been a chance to reflect on just how much I have done over the past 7 weeks: I have seen the misty sights from the top of Burnaby Mountain outside of Vancouver; I have spoken French for an entire weekend in Montreal; I have ridden rollercoasters dozens of metres above the Las Vegas Strip; and, I have been able to call the calm and beautiful Ottawa home. On a less happy note, as of early Sunday morning, I had visited Vancouver International Airport a total of 6 times since I arrived in Canada.

This week I finished a number of small projects. The Institute for Liberal Studies is preparing for their second Freedom Week of 2016, which will take place at McGill University in downtown Montreal. Over the course of the two 2016 Freedom Weeks, the ILS will have spent a collective 10 days immersing roughly 90 Canadian and US university students in the ideas of freedom that are so important to our future. Last year, my friend Michelle went to Freedom Week feeling mild discontent with the way her political party, the Liberal Party of Canada, operated. She came away with renewed optimism and vigour for influencing the future of her country: this time not (necessarily) by fighting along partisan lines, but by making the case for change to the people. She gravitated towards liberalism thanks to the ILS, and she is by no means the exception to the rule amongst Freedom Week participants. Michelle now feels far more comfortable getting involved in diverse groups, disagreeing openly with her professors, and questioning accepted belief. From my involvement in Mannkal, I have had a very similar experience. From what I have heard on my first week’s lecture recordings, I have many points to bring up with my professors.

I had poutine for the first time on Thursday! Mine was slightly modified (okay, very modified), with jalapeños, Sriracha, avocado and vegetarian gravy, but it was delicious nonetheless. That night, Michelle and I went to Matt and Janet’s for a lovely dinner. In addition, I was allowed to hold their copy of the 4th edition of The Wealth of Nations, printed in 1785! I could not imagine two nicer people to work for. I imagine that the effect Freedom Week has on students is in part due to the charisma, likeability and tolerant attitudes of these two.

I said goodbye to the wonderful Canadians I’ve met, especially Matt and Janet, and my close friend Michelle! Back to the real world, I suppose. Thanks must go again to the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation, who are doing amazing work influencing a generation of Western Australians from diverse backgrounds. I have had an incredible time. I take pleasure in knowing just how many curious and intelligent students Mannkal sends on similar experiences each year. The future looks bright.

The first photo I took in Canada, flying over the Prairies.

Nick Vernon | Week 6: Happy Birthday Milton Friedman!/C’est l’fun!

Nick Vernon, 3 August 2016


At the heart of the Old Port of Montreal.

This past Sunday (July 31) was Milton Friedman’s 104th birthday. It’s worth noting that the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice changed its name to EdChoice to coincide with their tenth and final ever Friedman Legacy Day. It may feel like an odd decision, but I see this as a progressive step on their behalf. Milton and Rose Friedman’s legacy lives on, but focusing more than ever on the future of educational choice. This issue has seen great progress in the United States over the past 20 years, as EdChoice notes in this video. In 1996 there were 6 school choice programs in the USA. As of today, there are over 60. For Friedman Legacy Day, the ILS gave 50 Canadian university students a copy of either Capitalism and Freedom or Free to Choose. This initiative was supported by the generosity of EdChoice, and will lead to a better understanding of the Friedmans’ ideas. They were intellectual giants, and will not be forgotten anytime soon.

On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to participate in a webinar with Scott Hennig from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. I have not been reporting enough on these webinars. To give background, the Institute for Liberal Studies runs a Summer Intern program through which they send students on paid internships at Canadian think tanks across the country. Each week bar one, we’ve taken part in a webinar with a distinguished figure in a certain field. Scott spoke to us about the importance of communicating the ideas that think tanks produce. Without communication, do ideas really exist? Last week, we heard from the impeccable Don Bourdreaux from George Mason University. (Yes, he is the editor of the fantastic Café Hayek blog!)

I encountered a military band on my walk to work on Friday morning. For a good part of my walk, they were marching alongside me on their way to Parliament. On the way home, the streets were celebrating a warm start to the weekend: a group of forty or so bagpipers were tuning by the canal, and Ribfest was serving ribs with a side of country rock outside City Hall. (On a side note, this is the second Ottawa Ribfest since I arrived 6 weeks ago.)

The view of Downtown Montreal from atop Mount Royal.

I took the train to Montreal, where I remained until Monday night! It’s an amazing city. I’ve been trying to describe it to myself in terms of other cities. Maybe the closest I have managed is that it has the size of Sydney, with a mix between the cultures of New York and Paris, but I cannot do the city justice this way. Montreal is a unique place, and I have really enjoyed it. On Saturday afternoon I aimlessly climbed to the top of Mont-Royal, from which the view of the city is truly special. On Saturday night, I walked across town to the community-run festival “le Village au Pied-du-Courant” to see the fireworks from across the river. Standing in the warm sand, surrounded by dancing Francophones, I felt immersed in the local’s Montreal.

Fireworks from across the St. Lawrence River.

The young people of Montreal almost have their own language. To explain, they speak in a dialect that is a bit of “a mix entre le français and l’anglais”. Waiting in line for a popular distillery I heard a group of young women say things along the lines of: “I like the atmosphere there! It’s comme this restaurant auquel on est allées l’autre day.” Along the same strain, “c’est l’fun” is Quebecker French for “it’s fun!”, which I find endearing. I spoke a lot of French over the course of these short-lived two-and-a-half days. It had been a really long time since I had been able to speak so much French with so many different people. I appreciated this opportunity ever more for the fact that there was such a diversity of French in the city. In the district of Le Plateau-Mont-Royal I practiced my most Parisian French, while in other parts of town I attempted to emulate the Quebecker French used by locals. Even though the accents have been sometimes a little quaint, sometimes incomprehensible, it has been a rare pleasure.

A street garden in the district of Vieux Montréal.

On Sunday, I walked through Vieux Montréal to get to Ming Tao Xuan, a Chinese teahouse hiding under the shadow of the Notre-Dame Basilica. This was but one of many authentic experiences I had in Montreal, a city where cultures melt into one another.

Montreal is now one of my favourite cities in the world. It would probably do better if it were less burdened by provincial regulation and this insistence on ‘preserving the French language and culture’ (I am inclined to believe that this stance actually diminishes the influence of the French language), but I love it. Once again, being a Mannkal Scholar has presented me with an experience that has broadened my view of the world, and I could not be more pleased or grateful.

I have one more week of interning left and then I’ll be flying home to get right back into study, work and life in Perth!