If An EWBer Were To Get Elected…

21 Aug

I hate to say admit it, but I am not that knowledgeable about Canadian politics.   Growing up on the west coast and being bombarded with US television, Canadian politics has always seemed a bit boring and distant to me.  Since joining the EWB National Office and learning more about our advocacy work, however,  I have become increasingly excited about Canadian politics and the potential for our involvement to help drive significant change.  

So I asked some of my coworkers for political book suggestions.  I assumed that they would direct me to some big boring history books, but their first suggestions turned out to be two humorous novels entitled ‘The Best Laid Plans’ and ‘The High Road’ by a local writer names Terry Fallis.

The novels are about an old Scottish Mechanical Engineering Professor from the University of Ottawa who accidentally gets elected to parliament when he makes a deal with a young ex-Liberal party speech writer-turned-English Professor in order to avoid teaching first year English for Engineers.  Once elected, the Professor and his young political tutor tumble into a series of mishaps and adventures  that demonstrate how an engineer’s logical mindset can be powerful in the world of politics.

In addition to learning a bit about Canadian politics, I highly recommend these novels for the following reasons:

  • They are really funny.  I even laughed out loud a few times!
  • Many of the situations in the book highlight the Global Engineering mindset (GE is an EWB program designed to encourage engineers to become more globally responsible).  Note that the author actually graduated with an engineering degree before going into politics and then marketing/public relations.
  • The Engineering Professor builds a hovercraft and what engineer doesn’t love hovercrafts?
  • At one point, the Engineer/MP is asked to lead an investigation into a bridge failure that leads to conclusions about investment in infrastructure.  The conclusions he reaches have significant parallels to EWB’s Ghanaian Government & Rural Infrastructure (G&RI) and Malawi Water/Sanitation work.
  • Like me, the author is a fan of Mark Twain (who is quoted in the book) and John Irving (who has clearly influenced his writing style).

This week’s focus on political advocacy is appropriate given that three of the four EWB Social Change Fellows who are wrapping up their summer internships at the office this week all spent a significant amount of time furthering our advocacy work.

IMG_20110818_163955

Duncan and Erin (on the left) were both part of our advocacy team for their entire placement.  Daniel (second from the right) was focused on Fair Trade and other parts of our Canadian Programs, but he also contributed significantly to our advocacy work.  Menel (on the right) helped to support our Africa Programs over the past four months.

We had a celebration for all four of the SCFs on Thursday because Duncan had to finish up early so that he can get down to Harvard where he is starting law school next month.  Erin and Menel will be leaving after this coming week; however, Daniel has just signed on for another year at the office.

I was incredibly impressed with this group of SCFs.  They all contributed enormously and underwent significant personal growth.  We can expect great things from all of them in the future.   Who knows – maybe one of them will eventually even get elected to parliament…

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4 Responses to “If An EWBer Were To Get Elected…”

  1. Erin August 24, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Mark, I love how your blog keeps me up-to-date on happenings around the office much more effectively than any “official” EWB communication. Keep it up!!

  2. Conan September 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Hey, Thanks! I was looking for new reading material, and your recommendations haven’t led me astray yet.

  3. Erica Lee Garcia, P.Eng. January 2, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    Great recommendation, Mark! I will have to check those out. By the way.. speaking of engineers in politics, CEO of Engineers Canada recently did a great interview on CBC Radio. Ahem. From my twitter feed… @engineeryrlife: Great interview with @KimAllenPEng on the connection btw science, #engineering and #politics http://buff.ly/Ul81up Well worth a listen! Happy New Year!

    • markwjabbott January 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

      Yeah – Kim is someone who really gets it! EWB has been working closely with him for quite some time now. He recently shifted from PEO to Engineers Canada. Happy New Year!

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