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Christian Students as Leaders in Public Life

Remarks by Hon. David Kilgour, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Southeast 

and Secretary of State for Asia Pacific at the Laurentian Leadership 

Centre of Trinity Western University

Ottawa, Ontario

October 9, 2002

Ladies and Gentlemen, honoured guests, students and staff: thank you for allowing me to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Laurentian Leadership Centre with you.

The Laurentian Leadership Centre

The Laurentian Leadership Centre in Ottawa is the reality of a long-awaited dream.  Not only is it an extension of the mission of Trinity Western University, which is to develop Godly Christian Leaders who serve God and people in the various marketplaces of life, but it represents a vision to see Godly Christian Leaders serving God and people here in the capital of Canada.

There are three aspects of this program that set it apart from all others operating within the city.

1.  It brings students from the Trinity campus in British Columbia to the middle of Canada—and the centre of Canadian influence, domestically and internationally.

One of the main divisions that continue to plague Canada is the conflict between the east and the west.  When a "westerner" is transplanted in the east, they are faced with an almost entirely different culture.  For Trinity students, this is an opportunity to broaden their understanding of how Canada functions, and the role of Central Canada in the policies and the policy-making of our country.  But it is also a challenge: understanding a new perspective takes a willingness to be open-minded about the views of others—not just being critical about them.

This is also an opportunity for Trinity students to voice their observations and concerns within the offices of influential people in Ottawa.  Being involved in the culture, if only for a short time, will, hopefully, add depth to their understanding of the daily life of Ottawa.

2. The program helps students to be "work-force ready". 

This is an intense program.  The students attend classes in addition to their internships.  First they learn the theory, and then they learn how to put that theory into practice with hands-on learning experiences.  There are many different opportunities within the program—jobs in business, in media and publications, in research, and political office.  Whatever the interests of the student might be, they have the chance to explore potential career opportunities for the future.  They can make contacts or set up internships as follow-up opportunities after graduation, or even during the summer. 

As an employer, it is important that new employees understand their job as quickly as possible.  It is rare that you find someone who already possesses the knowledge and skills to work within a specialized office—for example, on Parliament Hill.  This program will equip students to be “work-force ready”—to be able to fit in to the position with less time lost in the adjustment and training period.

Most importantly, the student has the opportunity to explore their own talents and abilities.  They have the chance to try a variety of roles within their office, and to discover their specific strengths and weaknesses.  Often it takes people years to find the job they were “made” to do.  This program gives students a head start in finding that job or career.

3.Third, the Laurentian Leadership Centre is a chance for the Christian community to be a light within the city of Ottawa.

"Secularism" has been called the religion of Canada.  What we have seen though, is an increase in demand for the values that are held by Christians to be present in public workplaces.

Values like integrity.  We need leaders to strive for knowledge and wisdom in their fields.  Honour has, tragically, become a casualty to self interest and personal gain.  We need leaders who understand that their actions need to match their words.  Honesty is vital to the growth of an organization and the trust that the public places in it.

Christians talk a lot about servant-leadership.  We need leaders who are willing to serve the people they lead.  Democracy is the rule of the people—or at least it is supposed to be.  As a member of parliament, I have been elected by the people of Edmonton Southeast to serve them.  If I fail in this, I will have failed the very core purpose of my job.  If we choose to live like Christ, we are choosing to serve the people around us.  If we fail in this, we fail in one of the most important requirements of the faith.

People generally do not have a lot of respect for those who constantly change their minds on the important issues that face us every day.  We label them as "hypocrites"—people who say one thing and do another.  Our world is searching for leaders who are trustworthy—those who say they will do something and get it done: those who believe strongly about something and hold to it in the face of opposition.  Christians believe in standing for the truth—a commitment to principle which our world finds admirable.

The internship program itself is an incredible opportunity: university students in their 3rd or 4th year having the chance to work with people who are influential in their fields, and are supervised by people who are interested in investing in their lives and careers on a daily basis. No where else can an internship like this be found. Students have the opportunity to learn the skills involved in office management, but more importantly, the skills involved in creating and implementing policies and projects associated with their offices. 

Leanne Neufeldt is the intern at my office.  There are several important objectives that are a part of her internship:

  • She is expected to learn how to correspond and dialogue with constituents and colleagues that contact the office,
  • She is expected to learn how to research and write speeches for me for my various meetings and events, 
  • She is to acquaint herself with my job as a member of parliament and as a secretary of state, 
  • And she is to learn the role of each employee in the office; whether they are policy advisors, the press secretary, administrative assistants—all jobs are important in their own way. 

In addition to the concrete though, I hope—and believe—that she will learn much about her abilities.  That she will discover her strengths and abilities, and that she will be encouraged to develop these things further.  Above all, I hope that she can come away with the knowledge that the work in our office is not just about being re-elected in four years, but that it is about the people we serve, and the lives we can change for the better. 

As a politician, I know that there is a lot of cynicism towards the men and women in parliament—corruption, hypocrisy, greed—these are words people use to describe politicians.  But I want to encourage you to not allow such thinking to keep you from pursuing positions of influence.  A difference can be made—you can be an influence in this city—but you must remember why you came here in the first place.

Thank you.

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