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March, 16th 2009

Ottawa!

– Liz Mair

Those who follow me on Twitter will be aware that I had a little out-of-the-ordinary fun this weekend, and headed up to Ottawa to speak at the Manning Centre Networking Conference and Exhibition, to speak about the application of online technologies in the context of political campaigns, with co-panelists Stephen Taylor and David All.  The public speaking went well (I won't bore you with the details, if you want to read about our panel, here's a generally fair and accurate writeup from Kady O'Malley of Macleans); the rest of the abbreviated visit was definitely fun.

Ottawa is a small place-- I wouldn't say, based on what I was told, that it was randomly selected as Canada's capital per se, but, well, it wasn't a big, established city at the time the Canadian capital city was selected.  So, it doesn't feel like a lot of capital cities I've visited do.  Parliament Hill is really very accessible, almost like the town square in a now slightly overgrown village-- and thank goodness, too, because as it happened, I had just over 24 hours in Ottawa, a presentation to polish and deliver, and a flight to catch back ridiculously early yesterday morning (really: I got up at 3:50 in the morning to be sure I'd make it).

That was plenty of time to check out the building where Parliament sits-- a beautiful building, which reminds me a little of the main Univeristy of Glasgow building.

I was lucky enough to get a tour-- not one that allowed me inside the Commons and Senate chambers, but rather into a position where I could see inside them-- still pretty cool.  I gather that there's currently a bit of a debate underway regarding the possibility of the Senate being elected (similar to what there has been previously in the UK regarding the House of Lords).  I also gather that there's a very cool library in the building, which unfortunately, we couldn't visit during our tour, but which is appparently the last remaining vestige of the original capital complex-- and one that a man who must be the hero of all English majors died saving.

I hope to get back up there at some point, for more than a brief visit, and hopefully one that will allow me a chance to see Parliament in action, the library open, and maybe the Rideau Canal unfrozen... [intro]

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