As a scientist working in the government, the Chief Science Advisor Dr. Mona Nemer, shared her personal experience of interaction with scientists, politicians and policy-makers. In the afternoon, the delegates attended sessions organized by the Institute on Governance. It started with a refreshing Parliament 101 session, explaining the institutions of Westminster Government in Canada and the composition of Parliament. It continued with an in-depth panel discussion with the Honourable Preston Manning, former MP Ted Hsu and Senator Rosa Galvez. From the panel discussion, the delegates learned how to adjust the communication method from source-oriented to receiver-oriented, which most people including politicians and the public use. The delegates then practiced their elevator pitches with other delegates and the help of science communication experts in an interactive session. The first day concluded with a warm and relationship-building dinner.
On the second day, the delegates had ample opportunities to attend House committee meetings, question period, breakfast and lunch sessions with parliamentarians on the Hill. This year, the boutique size (28) of delegates made it possible that each delegate met on average 3 Members of Parliament or Senators. More importantly, some of the delegates had several-hour long conversations with parliamentarians or even shadowed a parliamentarian for the whole morning or afternoon. In the end, this amazing experience was concluded with a networking reception at night, where delegates, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan – Minister of Science and Sport, Chief Science Advisor Dr. Mona Nemer, Members of Parliament and Senators from different political parties and other invited guests came together to celebrate the inaugural Science Meets Parliament program in Canada.
Overall, this unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience changed the ways that participating scientists think about parliament and pointed out the numerous ways that one can connect with parliamentarians – on the hill or in the ridings in the future.