Ensuring that our generation is actively involved in politics is a challenge faced in Western countries around the world. This is especially in the face of an apathetic attitude that no matter who one votes for, we never seen any change. This week the Manning Centre hosted a series of evening workshops where young professionals who haven’t previously been involved in politics or policy work could attend and learn about how they could become involved. Everything from the simple step of having conversations with their friends all the way to running as a candidate in an election was discussed. The most impressive aspect of attending these events is how well they’re kept apolitical. Many of the attendees would be more likely to identify as Conservative, yet it was acknowledged that being actively engaged in politics on any level or any party is better than leaving the decisions to the baby boomer generation. For all the faults of Justin Trudeau, one of the event’s speakers acknowledged the significance that Trudeau is Canada’s youngest Prime Minister, while the United States has just elected their oldest president.
My work this week has been focused on strategic planning for the Manning Centre’s research for 2017. The Go To Think Tank Index published by the University of Pennsylvania, rates the performance of hundreds of think tanks according to a wide variety of criteria. This report has provided inspiration for good research and methodological practices which we will use to help inform our plans for the coming year. I have also been conducting research into the influence of Political Action Committees (PACs) in Alberta. New provincial rules limit individual campaign contributions to $4000 and corporate donations are now completely banned, which has led to a new focus on the role of PACs. How this change in funding rules will affect policy development is still not yet clear. Calgary has seen warmer weather this week, and I have significantly reduced the number of layers worn whenever I venture outside. This weather has been caused by what Calgarians call a Chinook. Warm wind flows from the ocean over The Rockies and melts snow and ice. During the winter months, a Chinook is a godsend; however, it has prevented a work colleague from taking me ice skating on a nearby frozen lake for the time being.