This summer, my Ottawa office is once again hosting an Intern from the University of Michigan. Therese Empie is a senior studying political science and environmental policy. During her five week stay in Ottawa, Therese has been blogging about her experiences. You can read her blog posts, as well as posts from other Michigan students interning on Parliament Hill, at: http://michigangoestoparliament.blogspot.ca/
Below is an interview Therese conducted during her first week in Canada.
” I am currently working for Ms. Joyce Murray, the Member of Parliament representing electoral
district of Vancouver Quadra as a Liberal Member of the Canadian House of Commons. Ms. Murray was first elected in March of 2008 and then re-elected in October of 2008 and February of 2011. She is currently the Liberal critic for Small Business and Tourism, the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Western Economic Diversification.
Ms. Murray has a unique and interesting history. She was born in South Africa to Charlotte Coe Murray and Gordon Murray. Charlotte Murray is a ”pioneer architect in designing and building affordable community and senior housing”.1 Gordon Murray was the founder of Murray & Associates Surveying and Northwest Hydrographic Underwater Surveying.
After attending the Lord Byng Secondary School in Vancouver, Ms. Murray completed her
undergraduate studies in linguistics, archeology and premed at Simon Fraser University in the earlyseventies. She returned in 1990 to Simon Fraser University to complete their Executive Masters in Business Program. While completing her EMBA program she wrote a thesis on global warming, ”proof of Joyce’s long-held belief that the environment and business do not have to be competing interests.”
Ms. Murray has always had an awareness of the importance of environmental conservation. In the seventies Ms. Murray co-founded Brinkman and Associates Reforestation Ltd with her husband Dirk Brinkman. The operation has become very successful, planting its billionth tree in 2010. Ms. Murray and her husband have three grown children named Baba Brinkman, Erik Brinkman and Dawn Brinkman.
On a sunny day in mid March I was escorted to a lobby just off of the main floor of the House of Commons to spend a half hour with Ms. Murray. During the brief interview we covered everything from social issues to personal intrests. To start the interview I asked Ms. Murray what issues are most important to her as a person and MP. Ms. Murray replied that environmental conservation and the health of the democracy were her top priorities. This is clear in her record. She has demonstrated her dedication to environmental conservation as a MP time and time again. In December of 2010 Ms. Murray introduced her Private Member’s Bill C-606. This bill legislated a crude oil tanker ban in the inland waters around Haida Gwaii known as Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound.
When asked what issues are most important to her riding Ms. Murray quickly explained that her riding is not typical. As a highly educated population, those in her riding are very concerned with giving back and being a moral leader. Her constituents are very concerned with Canada’s role in the world. This is in stark contrast to the issues faced by the rest of Canada. Ms. Murray’s answer to the most important human rights issue facing Canada today is the gap in achievement of the First Nations people. She further explained that the gap in achievement extends to education, employment and life expectancy.
There has recently been a great deal of talk in the House of Commons relating to the 2007 Global Financial Crisis. With this in mind I asked Ms. Murray how hard she felt Canada was hit by the crisis. When answering she radiated a quiet strength saying that Canada was indeed hit hard but not as hard as others.
During my brief time here I have noticed that there is a lot of rhetoric in the House of Commons focused on the importance of cutting spending in order to keep Canada’s economy afloat. I asked Ms. Murray what needs to be done in order to safe guard the Canadian people against future financial crises. In response she suggested the government stop undermining clean technology markets and the innovation sector. Other problems mentioned include the lack of clear criteria on foreign takeovers, an over reliance on environmental resource exports, and a lack of transparency for foreign investment policy.
As a successful business woman and politician, Ms. Murray has some very good advice for young women looking to enter either field. When asked, she gave two very good pieces of advice. First, find leadership roles in whatever you are doing today because “those who show up run the world.”
Secondly, amass a strong record of problem solving and creative experience. I sincerely agree with her
on both accounts. As a society I feel that the younger generations have become reliant on the idea “it’s not what you know but who you know.” We have come to think that as long as we have connections it is not necessary to develop the skills employers find essential.
I have greatly enjoyed my time working for Joyce Murray. She is one of the most honest, caring and passionate individuals I have ever met. Thanks for reading.”