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Julian Hasleby – Cycling Through an Internship | Week 2

Julian Hasleby, 19 December 2016

This week was spent in preparation, building up until Thursday. There was growing excitement in the policy team for what was rapidly approaching. After carefully reviewing the City of Calgary’s Cycle Track report, we discovered several of the program’s targets had been downgraded (by the administration) to make them easier to meet, without any disclosure to the council or the public.

Thursday morning began with a press conference attended by five television channels, three newspapers and three radio stations. Throughout the day The Manning Centre’s policy director was interviewed over the phone. I was lucky enough to accompany my boss to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation studios to see him interviewed about the research I was involved in for the evening news. A day does not get much more exciting than this!

It was not only my research and data analysis skills which received a good working out this week. I also commenced training in the Manning Centre’s Certificate in Essential Campaign Management. Learning these skills is very exciting for someone who is an ardent follower of politics, while also demonstrating the nuances of Canadian campaigns when compared to Australia.

Manning Centre Policy Director on CBC

It was hard to contain my excitement after the press conference!

Having a look at the Manning Centre Library

Julian Hasleby – An Australian in Alberta | Week 1

Julian Hasleby, 9 December 2016

After almost 50 hours of flying, I finally arrived in Calgary, Alberta. Upon leaving the airport, the snow, ice and the cold confronted me. It was incredible to think that for the next three months this would be my life (only with lower temperatures). I’ve never experienced cold like this before, with temperatures of -20, there’s a knack for knowing how to layer your clothes for the walk to and from work.

The first day at the Manning Centre involved an orientation, assisting the policy team with their research into municipal issues and the opportunity to network with a plethora of impressive people.

After work I was in for a treat as Institute of Public Affairs fellow, Chris Berg was delivering a lecture at the Petroleum Club. Chris advised Calgarians on how to effectively advocate for the repeal of a carbon tax and the outline of the role the IPA played in Australia. Alberta’s heavy reliance on oil, and given the provincial and federal carbon price schemes have come at a time where the region is already struggling. It was a proud moment to see so many great Canadians looking to our country on how to deal with a problem we know all too well.

Throughout the week my team worked on an analysis of the City’s implementation of a bicycle path throughout the downtown district. We ascertained that the data had been misrepresented by the city and that in fact, the number of bike crashes had risen, the number of people visiting businesses and their average spend had declined. We put together all our research and Peter McCaffrey (my boss) presented it to the Transport Committee at City Hall. There was interest from local media and business groups in our analysis, which has made the hard work this week especially rewarding as we wait for the outcome.

Tonight, I attended a Christmas party hosted by the Manning Centre for its university clubs where it was fantastic to meet other young, politically minded college students and to hear about issues relevant to them, some very similar and some very different.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my first week in Canada. Calgary looks beautiful with all its Christmas decorations and I can’t wait to experience my first white Christmas.

Eau Claire Park - Downtown Calgary

17th Street (near my apartment)

Shopping in The Core during my lunchbreak

Dean Wicken – Week 12

Dean Wicken, 29 February 2016

What a week.

What an absolutely amazing, tiring, busy, educational, fulfilling, rewarding, roller coaster of a week! Not only have the events of the week left me breathless from their pace, they have left me speechless.

On Monday, a friend of John’s, Tremayne, took us for a tour of Congress. He is the special assistant to a member of Congress – the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, no less. His employment garners him access to large parts of the Congress that are not generally available to the public. He was most generous with this access, most memorably taking us on the floor of the House of Representatives, and to the Speaker’s balcony. The Speaker’s balcony offers an unparalleled view of the city; it is no wonder that the Pope chose to give his address from this location.

On the speakers balcony of Congress.

On the speakers balcony of Congress.

The next day, I joined fellow Mannkal scholars Ramin and Jordan, and ventured out to further explore the city. We visited both the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

At the Museum of Natural History.

At the Museum of Natural History.

Washington DC however, was not to be the only capital city I visited during the week. To finalise the work we had done at the Manning Conference, John and I travelled up to Ottawa for the Manning Conference. It was a fantastic conference, without weather to match. The first rain I have seen in nearly 9 months fell while I was in Ottawa, transforming the 40cm of snow already present into slush (sometimes of a similar depth as the snow, as my right leg found out. Twice.). The conference itself however was hugely rewarding, incredibly inspiring, and offered networking opportunities aplenty. There were speakers on a variety of topics, from how best to utilise Facebook’s new algorithms for effective political posting to the importance of political training. There were also  panels of discussion on topics including cannabis, provincial politics, and Canada’s voting system. Described as ‘Woodstock for conservatives’, the Manning Conference is a Mecca for Canadian conservatives and many politicians – including the leaders of all Federal and provincial right wing parties – were present. I was also able to meet in person the students who I helped select for travel sponsorship, and catch up for a final time with the staff of the Manning Centre.

One of the standout pieces of wisdom for me came from Morton Blackwell.

With Morton Blackwell, conservative activist and member of the Executive Committee of the RNC.

One of the standout pieces of wisdom I gleaned from the Manning Conference came from Morton Blackwell. He (rightly in my opinion) points out that to win the political argument, it is not sufficient to simply be correct. In his words those who win the political argument have, “the best trained political activists, with the best grasp of technology.” His speech has inspired me to become more involved in the conservative political movement. Australia has no equivalent to the Manning Conference. There is no reason this cannot be remedied.

Our time in Ottawa also allowed us to visit the Canadian Federal Parliament, and we were lucky enough to be allowed onto the floor of the Canadian Senate, as well as to view a session of ‘Question Period’ in their House of Representatives. The bi-lingual parliament was an experience in itself, with MP’s wearing headphones for translators to speak into.

At the Canadian Federal Parliament.

At the Canadian Federal Parliament.

Finally, upon return to Washington, it was time for the International Students for Liberty Conference. I listened to speeches on a number of topics, including  immigration and national borders. Although these were engaging and informative, the speakers at the Manning Conference were much more to my tastes, with a lot of the ISFLC exhibitors and speakers falling on the left side of libertarianism. This was no better highlighted by one of they keynote guests, the band Pussy Riot, wearing Bernie Sanders shirts for their visit. The evening exhibitions were quite interesting however, with all exhibitors gathered together in one smaller area. A visit by Presidential candidate Vermin Supreme added to the buzz.

The conference also offered a great opportunity to catch up with all the other scholars one final time, and spending my birthday in two different countries was an event which I am unlikely to repeat.

At the ISFL Conference.

At the ISFL Conference.

Alas, I have now parted ways with all the other scholars, as I slowly navigate my way to New York to start the long journey home. I had once again grown used to being surrounded by Australian accents, and I will miss our little Australian family. Still, there is no reason to be morose. The coming week offers me a final opportunity to explore America, to forge relations with its citizenry, and to make memories I will hold dear for the remainder of my life. New York City is a testament to what man can do when he is left to flourish, and I look forward to making the most of everything it has to offer. Whether this is managing to get in some TLC, exploring the various landmarks and monuments, or simply allowing a moment to lay back and take it all in, one thing I am certain of. I won’t be getting much sleep this coming week.

I am immensely thankful for the opportunity Mannkal has afforded me, the true scope of which has not become obvious until now. This has been a life-changing experience, and I will forever be grateful to those who made it possible.

Dean Wicken – Week 11

Dean Wicken, 22 February 2016

Goodbyes. They’re rarely fun or easy. For John and I, it is time to say goodbye to Calgary, as we have moved on to the next leg of our trip – Washington DC.
Those following at home will know that my relationship with Starbucks Canada has been rocky at best. I am glad to report that they stayed true to style in their farewell.

I even spelled it out for them this time...

I even spelled it out for them this time...

Monday was a public holiday in Canada, for Family Day, and John and I were lucky enough have been invited to a hockey game by our boss Peter. Sadly, the home team (Calgary Flames) were not triumphant, despite scoring the first goal. Nevertheless, the game was exciting, fast-paced, and fun to watch.

Calgary Flames vs Anaheim Ducks

Calgary Flames vs Anaheim Ducks

With the Manning Conference fast approaching, the mood at the Manning Foundation has been electric. While the days get longer, the deadlines are getting shorter. It’s exhilarating, and the success of the final product will be more than worth it. Further to my task of editing the online bios for all the speakers at the Conference, this week I was assigned to adapt them all into verbal introductions. I also wrote a brief report on the activities of the Manning Foundation, which will appear in part in the annual report for the organisation.

Working in the lobby of the Manning Centre.

Working in the lobby of the Manning Centre.

The journey to Washington was an adventure in and of itself. Our flight from Calgary was not direct, and we had a three hour layover in Denver, Colorado. The landscape visible from the plane coming into Denver was simply spectacular, with dry fields stretching for miles in all directions, the snow-capped Rocky mountains visible in the distance, and the City of Denver silhouetted against them. Fellow Mannkal Scholar, Ramin, was also on our flight from Denver to Washington, although we didn’t know this until we saw him at the Airport in Denver. With a surprise upgrade to economy plus for me, the flight was rather pleasant. The journey was made even more pleasant by my reception in Washington. An American friend of mine, Emily, had agreed to drive me from the Washington-Dulles airport to my accommodation in DC. When I arrived with both John and Ramin in tow, she happily agreed to take them to their lodgings as well. It was great to catch up with her, and I managed to see a lot of the city before I’d even dropped my bags off, with stops at both John and Ramin’s accommodation and the JFK Centre for Performing Arts. Although my time in Calgary has come to an end, it is not the final time I will see my colleagues. The Manning Conference is later this week, and I will be rejoining the team in Ottawa. However, there is no time like the present – and at present I am in Washington DC! With nearly endless tourist attractions for the politically minded individual, this should be an intensely exciting few days. Wasting no time, I have spent today at the Washington Mall, visiting the White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, as well as various war memorials. Emily was happy to act as my tour guide, and regaled me with numerous facts about the various landmarks – most of which turned out to be false. I consider it revenge on behalf of all the Canadians I warned about drop-bears, hoop snakes, and bunyips.

G'day Mr. President!

G'day Mr. President!

While exploring the city, I was fortunate enough to run into a fellow Mannkal Scholar, Emily. After nearly three months abroad, her Australian accent was immediately obvious, despite never standing out to me at home. With a majority of the North American Mannkal Scholars in Washington DC, we will soon be gathering and telling each other of our adventures. The coming week not only offers the opportunity for out little band of Australians to reunite, but also to visit Congress and the Smithsonian museums, which will be extremely interesting. John and I will be visiting Ottawa for the Manning Conference, and returning to DC for the International Students for Liberty Conference. This will be a perfect finale for my Mannkal journey, and will hopefully allow me to re-explore some of the things I touched on during my first stay in DC.

Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln Memorial.

It’s good to finally be back in a city where Uber is permitted. Its residential equivalent, AirBnB, has provided my accommodation at a much lower price than any hotels in area. This proves yet again that minimal regulations and free markets provide the best possible outcomes for consumers, at the same time allowing entrepreneurial individuals to be rewarded for their efforts and investments.

Dean Wicken – Week 10

Dean Wicken, 15 February 2016

I was on a roll. Multiple successes. Then all of a sudden, things got worse than they had ever been…

I am of course, referring to the spelling and pronunciation of my name by the baristas at the local Starbucks.

As they say, two out of three ain't bad.

As they say, two out of three ain't bad.

Back in the Manning Centre, the planning for the Manning Conference has reached fever pitch. Everybody in the office is solely focused on their part of the Conference organisation, and this does not except the Australian guests. While last week I was responsible for putting together the shortlist for the student scholarships, this week added a new dimension to that task – budgeting. As the Conference is on the East coast of Canada, the further West that the student hails from, the more expensive their attendance. Maximising the number of students that can attend, while staying in budget and ensuring that the selections are based on merit was a complicated task, but one that I relished. Secondly to this, I have also been tasked to ensure all the bios of attending speakers are uniform in their formatting, grammar, and syntax. This task is allowing me to gain a far more intimate knowledge of both not only the attendees to the Conference, but also the wide range of topics that will be discussed.

To answer questions about my project on preselections in the Western Australian Liberal Party, Preston Manning (the founder of the Manning Centre), invited John and I out to lunch at the Ranchmen’s Club, accompanied by one of our colleagues, John Whittaker. The Ranchmen’s Club was formed in the 1890s, and is an exclusive and upscale location for meetings, dining, or to engage in a game of billiards, darts, or the like. Preston was kind enough to give us a tour, and the many anecdotes he regaled us with really brought the place to life. The big game strewn throughout the building served to highlight Canada’s wildlife – I had never realised how large bison actually were until I saw the head and shoulders of one mounted above a fireplace.

John and Me with an Alpha male wolf.

John and Me with an Alpha male wolf - 3 Alpha males?

This week also marked the official launch of Nik Boot’s campaign to be president of the University of Calgary Student Union. John and I were invited to an event for the launch of his Facebook page, and acted as guest speakers. It was good to see the influences that our advice has had on his campaign.

It’s hard to believe that this coming week will be my last at the Manning Centre. However, there are still many things to look forward to. The Manning Centre Conference will be a great chance to catch up with everyone from the Centre one last time, and the International Students for Liberal Conference also – excitingly – looms on the horizon.

At the Ranchmen's Club.

At the Ranchmen's Club.

John Hugo – Week 10: Lunch and Yoga

John Hugo, 15 February 2016

My name is John Hugo and I am a 2015 Mannkal Scholar

As Dean and my time in Calgary draws to an end, and the Manning Centre’s Networking Conference draws closer we find ourselves getting increasingly busier. Dean and I had the pleasure of having lunch with Preston Manning. We dined at the Ranchman’s’ Club of Calgary which was formally incorporated in 1891, and home to many a political conversation which has shaped the Alberta and Calgary to be what they are today.

Preston has always showed interest in the political system of Australia, and during this particular meeting he was very interested in the Liberal Party of Australia’s political pre-selection program. I honestly had no idea of how the Liberal Party pre-selected their candidates; however, Dean was able to provide a clear explanation of what seems to be a complex system.

As tough times fall upon the most economically prosperous province of Canada, with the left controlling three levels of government, a terrible economic state, and a large amount of debt, it is now more important than ever to recharge and reunite the right to ensure fiscal responsibility and economic growth. Preston explained the complexities of uniting political parties for the right to be able to control government. He told us that it was a 30 year project that spanned most of his political life which ultimately lead to Stephen Harper holding government for 10 years. This is now what needs to happen for the Progressive Conservative and Wild Rose parties of Alberta. The word on everyone’s lips about how to go around it is, “grassroots.”

For the past 30 days I have challenged myself to stay active, maintain a daily routine, join a community, and help fight body image issues, all in the form of a 30 day hot yoga challenge. This challenge involves practicing yoga, in a room at least 37 degrees, for 30 classes within 30 days. Challenging, I know! Of the 50 or so yogis who stared the challenge, I was one of five who lasted the whole way to the end. I feel I have achieved so much self-development from this internship and this is just a small piece of it.

John Hugo – Week 9: Unite the Right

John Hugo, 8 February 2016

There’s a certain magic to film and theatre that you just can’t get with a political report. Although they may have strong rationalised arguments and thought provoking musings, unfortunately, they do not reach as wide audiences as other text forms such as movies and theatre. That is not to say that movies and theatre do not have social influence. Movies like V for Vendetta or The Hunger Games are perfect examples of mainstream texts that promote small government ideas.

In Canada, the left controls the conversation of mass media. Their champion is Leonardo Dicaprio. For the conservative movement to take charge of the conversation, vernacular, public opinion, and shift the status quo, their message needs to be in all forms and target all demographics.

This is very relatable to university politics back home; the left dominates campus. In my time at university there has been no significant conservative or libertarian movement on campus. A product of this absence is the guild elections, although the right wing ticket has as much flashy graphics, and a team the same size, people are disenfranchised with their policy platform because there has been no discussion around the need for a conservative alternative.

I believe the key to the success of the right is providing a fostering and inclusive culture where groups and individuals who have aligned views can work together for their common cause. This battle can no longer be fought by just the white straight man. It might seem against the culture of the traditional boys club that runs the show to reach out to the people in the theatre; however, putting objectives in perspective, untapped political assets are awaiting to be harvested through an inclusive culture. That is an offer that the right, especially in Canada, cannot refuse.

Dean Wicken – Week 9

Dean Wicken, 8 February 2016

Prepare for a heatwave.

This is the advice being given to those back home, with temperatures in the 40s expected throughout the week. However, those of us in Calgary are expecting a heatwave as well. Next week is forecast to have at least three days where the temperature climbs above 10°! This is due to phenomena known as  Chinook Winds, which Leonardo DiCaprio called ‘terrifying evidence of climate change‘. I welcome these warm winds with open arms and windows.

Monday saw the first caucuses of the US Presidential Primaries, on both the Democratic and Republican sides. The Manning Centre hosted a small ‘watch party’, which John and I helped to organise. Many in the audience were disappointed by the poor showing for Rand Paul.

With the Manning Conference fast approaching, preparations are becoming the sole focus of the office, and the excitement is increasingly palpable. One of the tasks delegated to John and I is to review the applications for travel scholarships, and select a shortlist which will then be whittled down further by Manning staff. It was an interesting experience to be the one reading and judging applications, and will certainly help me in updating my CV.

Brushing up on Canadian politics, eh.

Brushing up on Canadian politics.

Some of the best examples of the effects of the nanny state are becoming more and more prevalent in Sydney. While keeping track of the news back home, I could not help but be amused by a story where police sanctioned a Sydney restaurant for having a wine list too close to the door, and apparently encouraging ‘unsavoury antisocial behaviour’ simply for advertising wine by the glass. Fittingly for policies that are such a joke as the Sydney lockout laws, satirical criticism has become increasingly common. While proponents of the lockout laws claim the reduction in violence in the areas subject to the new laws is proof that they work, they ignore the fact that patronage has fallen further than the violence levels. Sydney Casino, which is not subject to the lockout laws, has seen violence increase by more than double the reduction in areas affected by the lockout laws. 13 venues have closed since the introduction of the restrictions, ostensibly because of the reduction in patronage. Unintended – and generally negative – consequences are a guaranteed byproduct of government intervention. The best option is no intervention at all.

Speaking in the boardroom of the Manning Centre.

Speaking in the boardroom of the Manning Centre.

With the New Hampshire primary fast approaching, I am looking forward to the opportunity to organise a small watch party for the event, utilising the contacts that I have made throughout my time here to fill out the guest list. While US politics is an entertaining spectacle, and allows a candidate to be thoroughly assessed by the electorate, I can’t help maintaining more confidence in the system of my home country – especially when the flip of a coin could be all it takes to decide the Presidency. On the question of what makes Australia great, I cannot help but think our political system is one of the largest factors.

John Hugo – Week 8: Québec, Alberta’s spoilt, French step sister

John Hugo, 1 February 2016

My name is John Hugo and I am a 2015 Mannkal Scholar

Maple syrup, poutine, and Cirque Du Soleil are arguably the three most iconic Canadian traditions. What they have in common is they all originate from Québec, Canada’s spoilt French step sister of a province. Alberta, not unlike Western Australia, is on the opposite end of this spectrum. There is no doubt that the majority of Canada’s culture comes from the far east province, but at what cost does this come to the rest of Canada?

Canada’s economy runs off oil and gas. A strong economy means a better standard of living due to less people being out of work, higher disposable income for individuals, and there is more money for medical and technological advances. For this to happen Canada’s industries, particularly oil and gas, need to be efficient. A major inefficiency that impedes growth in living standards is unnecessary regulation and red tape. Shifts in the global market such as America’s domestic production of oil almost doubling in only a few years causes a drop in the price of oil, meaning Canada’s industry needs to find and implement more efficiencies to be able sustain growth. Unfortunately, this has not been done. You need only talk to a handful of Calgarians who have been re-profiled to positions of equal or high responsibilities for at least half the pay. Dean and I hear a new person’s story every day, the struggle is real.

A current inefficient under the spotlight at current is the cost of transporting oil. A proposed new pipeline, through the cultural mecca of Québec, would provide an efficiency that would allow Canadian oil to undercut the Saudi Arabian price, flooding the economy with money once again. Without this pipeline, oil has to be transported on rail, this has its own negative externalities of limiting the amount of food supplies that can be transported around Canada. This pushes the cost of food up and restricts the consumer’s choice. So why doesn’t Canada build this pipeline? The answer is Québec.

Québec has double the population of Alberta and produces half the GDP per capita. That is Alberta contributes four times more to Canada’s economy than Québec; meaning, a large portion of Alberta’s taxpayers’ money gets sent straight to Québec. Due to Québec’s population it has a much larger political influence than Alberta. Currently it controls decisions about how regulated industries are and how much taxpayer money is spent. It may not seem fair that the people who earn the money do not get as much of a say in how efficient they can be or how the tax on it is spent. As the province of Québec continues to spend money they don’t have on projects they don’t need they also continue to refuse to allow the oil and gas industry to be efficient by allowing a pipeline to be built through their province, also facilitating more local jobs. To give some perspective on the state of the economy and how dire this situation is, 11% of government revenue is spent on debt servicing, that is not paying off debt, but paying off the interest on the debt. Québec needs to understand that something has to give. Yes the province wants to be known as the cultural node of Canada, but it certainly should not want to be known as the place that poured the burden of insurmountable debt onto future generations.

Dean Wicken – Week 8

Dean Wicken, 1 February 2016

patriotism

[pey-tree-uh-tiz-uh m or, esp. British, pa-]
noun
1. devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.

Despite my search for ‘touches of home’ outlined in previous blog posts, homesickness is not something I am prone to. The one occasion I will admit to a tinge of it however, was in the leadup to Australia Day. Our national day is (despite the protestations of the left and their acolytes) a day of celebration and commemoration. To put it mildly (and to put it Australian-ly), not being home for Australia Day was bloody terrible. I was determined however, to celebrate it in appropriate style. Finding an Australia Day Eve party in Calgary was easier than expected, and a number in attendance were from Australia. A surprisingly high percentage of these from Western Australia, including one person from my home suburb! Come the 26th – and with the permission of the Manning Centre – I proudly dressed as I would have at home (shown below), despite going in to work and performing my normal daily duties. I can assure you, Australian summer attire is not at all appropriate for the Canadian winter.

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

With the Iowa Caucuses now only a day away, much of the political chatter throughout the Manning Centre revolves around the official start of the Presidential election process. The Manning Centre will be hosting a ‘Watch Party’ for the Iowa Caucuses, and it has fallen to John and I to organise this event. Obtaining a temporary liquor license was part of this process. Alberta’s liquor prices are controlled by the Government, and the only wholesale alcohol supplier operating – or even permitted – is government owned. The procedure to obtain a temporary liquor license however, is quite simple and streamlined – one simply purchases it from a liquor store, along with the alcohol that is intended to be sold. If competition could be introduced into this system (and the Government’s monopoly on wholesale abolished), it would be a very good system – second only to eradicating the concept of a liquor license.

A new and recurring task has been given to John and I, to produce a ‘news review’ for the day. John Whittaker, a former intern and current employee of the Centre, has declared he will, “No longer read the news,” and requires us to inform him of goings on in all sectors. What he does on weekends I’m not sure, but this task not only hones our research abilities, but provides a good snapshot of the events and news headlines of the past 24 hours.

At my desk in the Manning Centre.

At my desk in the Manning Centre.

Michael Heydon, a Mannkal Scholar with the Foundation for Economic Education in Atlanta, Georgia, has joined John and I in Calgary for a few days. Taking on the role of local rather than tourist was an interesting experience, and the few pieces of local knowledge I have picked up I have been sure to pass on and utilise. Getting up at 6am on Saturday to go skiing in Banff again was an [un]welcome addition to our schedule, but the early rise was worth it, as conditions were great. John was enjoying it so much he decided he wanted to stay, and missed the bus home.

Expressing skepticism at John's response to my speech.

Expressing skepticism at John's response to my speech.