The Legacy of Alf Hales
Throughout his 17 years as Member of Parliament for the riding of Wellington (1957-1974), Alf Hales distinguished himself in Ottawa. According to Geoff Stevens, a former Ottawa columnist and managing editor for the Globe and Mail, “To my mind, Hales was among the finest backbenchers to grace Parliament Hill in the past half-century. He was kind, courteous, considerate and utterly committed to public service.”
Beyond his legislative work, Hales` legacy to Canadian governance is his key role in spearheading the creation of the Parliamentary Internship Programme (PIP). Prior to the unprecedented agreement by all political parties to permit the establishment of a non-partisan internship under the auspices of the Speaker and administered by the Canadian Political Science Association, young Canadians did not possess the opportunity to learn about Parliament and Canadian Parliamentary institutions from the inside. In fact, when Hales introduced a motion in the House of Commons on March 10, 1969 asking for the creation of such an internship, his idea was indeed revolutionary.
“That in the opinion of this House the Government should give consideration to the advisability of establishing a form of internship program in the House of Commons; the purpose of said program being to better equip outstanding young political scientists, journalists and law school faculty members, with a better understanding of the national legislative process ….”
Former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson even referred to the development of a parliamentary internship programme as “the most important experiment in parliamentary activity since 1867.”
Thanks to the inspiration and dedication of Alf Hales, the PIP has so far provided almost 400 young Canadians with the experience of a lifetime. The significant contributions of former interns to Canada and the international community through academics, public service and industry are a lasting testament to important role the PIP plays in developing the potential of promising young Canadians.