Democracy at work

Diane Crocker
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City native completing internship at Canadian Embassy in Washington

Cary Jones is seen outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

CORNER BROOK — Being in Washington, D.C. during the recent U.S. government shutdown gave Cary Jones an opportunity to see a different side to democracy.

“We’ve been told it’s the best system,” said Jones. “Everyone gets a chance to have their say or everyone votes and sometimes you get the government shut down.”

The Corner Brook native said it’s not something that happens often, but the U.S. events show that when you let everyone have their say things don’t always go the smoothest.

“And it’s just been cool to see how that happens,” Jones said.

Jones, 22, is currently completing a term with the Embassy of Canada’s Internship Program in the U.S. capital. He started in September and will be there until mid-December.

Jones, the son of Kent and Charlotte Jones, graduated from Dalhousie University this past May with a degree in political science and economics.

He chose political science because of an interest in studying law and his foray into economics came at the encouragement of his sister.

In 2012 Jones visited Washington with his dad.

“And we were just walking around, seeing the sights, and went into the Canadian embassy,” he said.

It was then that he learned of the internship program and with graduation looming thought it would fit in well with his future plans.

“I wanted to take a year off before I went on and did any other schooling,” explained Jones. So he applied for an intern position and was successful. He is the only one from Atlantic Canada working during the fall term.

In his finance and trade position, Jones attends a lot of Congressional hearings and think tank events. He summarizes what happens at those events and reports back to his supervisor.

“Because if there’s something going on here that she thinks maybe might be interesting for Ottawa to hear, maybe they should implement it, then it’s kind of just passed on down the line.”

The last few weeks were “pretty crazy,” said Jones with the budget showdown and potential debt ceiling crisis.

The shutdown meant some hearings Jones would normally have attended were cancelled, but because of that he was able to attend more that were focused on the budget and debt, including some to discuss what would happen if the U.S. did default.

“It’s been pretty cool,” he said of the experience.

“You kind of go through the process of what’s going on and seeing the emergency measures that they’re pulling out. So it’s been a really good learning curve being down here during that.”

He’s also had the opportunity to sit in on hearings on reform of the home buying financing system.

Jones said after 2008 the government took over two of the bigger financing providers and is now trying to put it back into the hands of private companies.Jones said the intern experience so far has been great. In addition to all he's learning he's getting to meet interns from all over the country and people from all over the world.

“It's been perfect for what I wanted to do,” he said.

It's also given him the opportunity to experience all that Washington has to offer. From the museums and monuments, to visits to Georgetown and Baltimore, Jones said four months is only enough time to cover the tip of the iceberg of what the capital offers.

And he plans to share the experience with others and hopes to encourage future participation in the program.

Once Jones term is over he plans to head back to Halifax to look for work. He’s also thinking about taking another year and going to Asia to teach English.

“And then I’m going to apply for law school,' he said of his plans to return to school in September 2014. Right now his interest lies in financial law, but Jones said he's not ready to commit to one area just yet.

Organizations: Canadian Embassy, Embassy of Canada, Dalhousie University

Geographic location: Washington, D.C., U.S., CORNER BROOK Atlantic Canada Ottawa Georgetown Baltimore Halifax Asia

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