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The 5th Annual Orientation for Newly Arrived Diplomats held November 12, 2015 focused on the transition to the 42nd Parliament and what changes the results of the federal election would mean.

Mauril Bélanger, M.P. for Ottawa-Vanier and a Director of the Parliamentary Centre, offered a welcome to the more than 100 diplomats and spouses who registered with a request for them to contact him directly on any issues of interest.

The Acting Clerk of the House of Commons, Marc Bosc, delivered a presentation on understanding and following parliamentary procedure (see link below). David Mitchell, public policy consultant and former President of the Public Policy Forum, suggested several ways for diplomats to understand if there was real change occurring to restore the system of cabinet government, relevance of parliament, and the public service as the employer of choice. Jean-Paul Ruszkowksi, CEO of the Parliamentary Centre, spoke of the need to include political parties in the reform of democratic institutions.

Andrew Leslie, M.P. for Orléans, and Anita Vandenbeld, M.P. for Ottawa West-Nepean, both spoke of their goals as newly elected MPs from the Ottawa area.  Anita Vandenbeld said she looked forward to applying her international experience to Parliament, particularly to bring countries together for dialogue and discussion. Andrew Lesie also spoke of re-engaging with the United Nations and another multinational institutions.

The panel moderated by Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute with participants James Baxter, publisher of Ipolitics; Anne McGrath, national director of the NDP; and; and Jim Patrick, Vice President of Global Relations for Shaw offered practical advice on dealing with parliamentarians, media, and lobbyists as well as their suggestions for good sources of information.

Warren Everson, Senior Vice-President of Policy for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce delivered a presentation on the Canadian economy and investing in Canada as well as how to engage with Canadian businesses.

His Excellency Alexander Latsabidze Ambassador of Georgia and President of the Ottawa Diplomatic Association, spoke about the role that the Association plays in the diplomatic community and invited diplomats to join.

The CEO of the National Capital Commission, Dr. Mark Kristmanson, explained the NCC role in building a capital region, planning for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017 and its relations with the diplomatic community.

Catherine Khordoc, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, opened the orientation and Carleton President Dr. Roseann Runte offered closing remarks.

Following the sessions, there was a lunch and resource fair that featured government and private organizations that provide services to diplomats in areas such as education, tourism, culture, recreation, social clubs, publications, volunteering and children’s issues. Participants included the City of Ottawa, Library of Parliament, National Arts Centre, the Ottawa Diplomatic Association, Rideau Hall, Volunteer Ottawa, Canadian Federation of University Women, Embassy Magazine and others.

The orientation was presented by the Carleton Initiative for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Engagement in association with the Ottawa Diplomatic Association and the Parliamentary Centre. It was free and open to newly arrived diplomats, diplomats who may have missed earlier orientation and spouses.

The program complements a December 1, 2015 session at Global Affairs Canada organized to provide information on Canadian governance and structure and access points of government departments and agencies.