In an age of increasing political polarization, The Public Office Project (POP) comprises people from across the political spectrum dedicated to improving governance. POP is an independent non-partisan research and education initiative based in Vancouver, British Columbia that seeks excellence in elected public governance, especially at the local level.
POP believes that society must constantly cultivate and support new leadership to ensure good governance by elected officials regardless of their political allegiances.
POP believes that good governance is one of the most important elements of a successful society and there is too much at stake to leave this to informal and casual processes. All of us benefit when those committed to elected public office gain insights and wisdom from those who have already lived these experiences.
The Public Office Project operates under the guidance of the Global Civic Policy Society and supports better public governance through the following activities:
An Advisory Council of former elected officials from across the political spectrum to advise on practices consistent with good governance
Public education about the Canadian form of government and issues related to good governance and elected office.
The Public Office Seminars originated from two political opponents Bradley Shende of the BC Green Party and Sam Sullivan of the BC Liberal Party who fought each other in a political campaign.
Afterwards they got together and decided that encouraging people to run for elected office and educating the public about government was not a partisan activity. They recruited people from all parts of the political spectrum and hosted their first exploratory meeting.
After receiving encouragement from former politicians, aspiring candidates and academics the concept of the Public Office Project developed.
Recruitment and Training
A challenge that is widespread through elective governance is that prospective candidates for elected office are recruited far too late into the governance cycle and are thus less prepared than is optimal.
The Recruitment and Training function of the Public Office Project comprises four elements which are organized through Public Office Seminars, a weekly flexible learning and sharing opportunity without regard to partisan issues.
Work with the community to identify citizens with the skills, aptitudes, experience and judgement likely to excel in elected public office.
Encourage prospective candidates to consider this opportunity.
Provide the prospective candidates with access to mentors to advise them.
Provide the prospective candidates with resource material on governance issues.
The Advisory Council comprises former public officials from across the political spectrum who advise on good governance practices and common challenges. These include issues relating to change of government, caucus relations, mental, physical, and social health, as well as considerations for life after public office.
The Advisory Council is devoted to cross partisan efforts to achieve excellence in elected public governance. It is dedicated to the British form of governance in which the ‘opposition’ is not the enemy but rather is an integral part of government.
Governance takes place within a context. It is important that the general public is aware of the importance of good governance and the role of elected public officials in the health of the community.
The Public Office Project will explore the use of social media to educate the public about the structure of government and the role of elected public officials within it. It will also advocate for and support additional teaching of governance issues in schools.
Are you considering running for elected office? Do you have an interest in public service? Do you wish to expand your leadership skills? Or do you want to understand our governance system better from those who have lived it? If so then the Public Office Seminars are for you.
Dates: Fridays 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, February 15 – April 12, 2019
Location: Terminal City Club
POP recognizes that formal classroom learning has important but limited value in understanding the politics of elected governance. This is a subject that is best learned from the experiences of practitioners. For this reason the Seminars will have some formal teaching but will be mostly insights and case studies from those who have experienced elected governance first hand.
Each semester of Public Office Seminars will have ten weekly sessions designed as flexible opportunities appropriate for prospective candidates who are already fully engaged in work or community service.
Each session will take place weekly on Friday afternoon from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. The first hour will feature Guest Lecturers who are former elected officials. They will share their insights and experiences, successes and failures and lessons learned. The lecturers will be mostly former public officials, but will also include campaign professionals and engaged academics.
The last hour will feature campaign professionals, academics and journalists who support, observe and critique those in elected public office.
All participants will be encouraged to attend Council Meetings and consultation processes as well as engage in self study on relevant topics.
Seminars will take place Friday afternoons February 15, 22, March 1, 22, 29, April 5, 12. The other weeks will be non classroom activities.
Case study sessions with former officials will include:
What led to public life
Lessons on winning and losing
Case studies on successful and unsuccessful initiatives
Examples of the role of mentors
High points and low points
Advice to prospective candidates
Balancing friends and family
Formal class study topics will include:
Historical context on adversarial politics
Structure of government
Media and social media
GOTV getting out the vote
Effective public speaking
Politics and the law
The cost of the program is $470.4 (inc tax) for the 10 week semester. Some sponsorships are available for full semester or portions. To register please donate bellow and contact Julian Prieto with a bit about your background and interests.
The cost of attending a single session is $77.4 (including tax)
Past 2019 Seminars:
March 1: Ujjal Dosanjh and Mike Wilson
Ujjal Dosanjh served as a Liberal Party of Canada Member of Parliament from 2004 to 2011. Prior to being involved in federal politics, he spent ten years in provincial politics. He was elected in the VancouverKensington riding in 1991 as a member of the BC NDP and re-elected there in 1996. He also served as the Attorney General of British Columbia from 1995 to 2000. When the leader of his party resigned in 1999, Dosanjh put himself forward as a candidate and won the leadership vote. With the win he became Canada’s first IndoCanadian provincial leader. He served as the 33rd Premier of British Columbia until June 2001.
Mike Wilson is a communications and political strategist, Principal at Dampier Consulting and CEO of In Language Advertising. He has played leading roles in numerous political campaigns including the 2008 Obama campaign, the Vision Vancouver municipal race and David McGuinty’s Ontario Liberal election. Mike played a role in Christy Clark’s leadership bid and then moved in to the BC government where he managed polling and advertising. His recent work includes Bruce Hayne for Mayor of Surrey and the NO PR referendum.
March 15 2019: Suzanne Anton and Kareem Allam
Suzanne served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of British Columbia representing the riding of Vancouver-Fraserview. Following her service in elected office Suzanne played a major role in the “no” side opposing electoral reform. Prior to entering provincial politics, Suzanne served on Vancouver City Council and the Vancouver Park board. She has served as a crown council lawyer and as a mathematics teacher overseas.
Kareem is a public affairs director at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, one of Canada’s largest public affairs firm. With more than a decade of private and public sector experience in public affairs, Kareem has fostered a unique understanding of Canada’s Chinese, South Asian and Indigenous communities while developing policy expertise in the energy, health and transportation sectors.He has successfully levered his knowledge into successful political campaigns at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.
March 22 2019: Renu Bakshi and Colin Hansen
Colin served as MLA between 1996 and 2013 and held the portfolios of Minister of Health Services, and Economic Development responsible for the Asia Pacific Initiative and the Olympics. After retiring from politics Colin became president of AdvantageBC, an organization dedicated to promoting BC as a place for international business.
RenuBakshi began her career as a journalist and is now one of Canada’s leading communication strategists. She served as a TV anchor for CTV news and now heads her own communication firm where she executes high-level public relations and crisis management strategies, news conferences, and media training boot camps. In 2008, the Vancouver Sun named Renu one of BC’s Most Influential People
March 15 Vancouver City Council Visit
Pete Fry spoke about life as a city Councillor and gave a tour of the chambers and offices.
March 22: Andrew Saxton and Barb Justason
Andrew Saxton, former Member of Parliament for North Vancouver, and Barb Justason, experienced pollster and strategic advisor, shared their thoughts on polling, campaigning and political life. Ken Sim, candidate in the 2018 Vancouver municipal elections, also briefly took the POP stage to share his experience with campaigning.
March 29: BC Lee and Mark Marissen
Strategist Mark Marissen spoke about the importance of supporting a candidate you believe in. Former Councillor BC Lee shared his thoughts on public life and leadership in multicultural communities.
April 5: Greg Lyle and Hector Bremner
Greg Lyle spoke of the advantages of teams that have worked
with each other for an extended period of time, and of having a
clear idea what one wishes to accomplish in elected office.
Hector Bremner spoke of 4 principles: bring people together,
take all the good ideas, don’t play politics, get the job done.