Hon. Peter Harder: Honourable senators, in the fall of 1974, as a student at the University of Waterloo, I was invited to attend a reception for the executive of the Canadian Political Science Association held at the home of Professor John Wilson, our department head. I was a fourth-year student intending on going to grad school. It was at this reception that Professor Wilson introduced me to James Ross Hurley, the then-young founding executive director of the Canadian Parliamentary Internship Programme. I can still recall exactly where I was standing and the advice Hurley gave me: Take a year away from grad school, apply to the Parliamentary Internship Programme and, if successful, you will have an amazing opportunity to see the House of Commons up close.
He described how the intern would spend half the year with a member of the government and half the year with an opposition member of Parliament, that the interns would have an academic exchange with the United States congressional fellows, visit the U.K. Parliament and the French Parliament, as well as the Ontario and Quebec legislatures. I was intrigued, applied and was accepted. My life’s course was changed.
Honourable senators, I rise today to celebrate the upcoming eightieth birthday of James Ross Hurley, director of the Parliamentary Internship Programme, senior public servant and constitutional adviser to prime ministers. In 1969, Mr. Hurley, then a young academic at the University of Ottawa, worked with the Canadian Political Science Association and the late Alf Hales, the MP for Wellington, Ontario, to develop a new program that would allow recent university graduates to serve as assistants to members of Parliament and to study Parliament during a 10-month internship.
Originally launched with the assistance of the Donner Canadian Foundation, the Parliamentary Internship Programme continues to operate under the auspices of the Canadian Political Science Association with strong backing from the House of Commons. Financial support is provided by a broad range of more than 40 sponsors, representing corporations, industry groups, labour unions, farmer groups, embassies and other friends.
Thanks to Mr. Hurley’s dedication, more than 500 young Canadians have benefited from this unique, non-partisan program, which continues to this day. The current interns will finish their placement later this month. I, along with former senator Grant Mitchell, are proud to have been interns, and in the broader Senate community, several of our staff have been part of this program as well. Mr. Hurley eventually moved on to a distinguished career with the Privy Council Office, but he remains a dedicated supporter of the program, most recently helping to establish the Hales and Hurley Parliamentary Foundation to raise funds on its behalf. The community of interns congratulates Jim on this milestone, and we all thank him for his contribution to Parliament, to Canada and to the young lives he has nurtured and changed. Thank you.