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CJPAC fellows receive ‘hands-on’ political training

Tags: Campus

CJPAC fellows in the House of Commons

OTTAWA — Nearly 40 university students from 13 campuses across the country have been participating in an extracurricular activity that includes a trip to Ottawa.

The trip, however, involves far more than sightseeing in the nation’s capital.

The students, all of whom have a keen interest in politics and a strong desire to participate in Israel advocacy, are the 2009-2010 Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC) Fellows. Chosen on the basis of an application and an interview process, successful students get the opportunity to meet with MPs and senior political strategists, as well as attend a national political conference in Ottawa and engage in a full day of advanced campaign training.

Throughout the academic year, the students work with local campaign and constituency offices and are trained to plan and implement a political program on their own campuses. They also take part in bi-weekly conference calls that provide exposure to a wide variety of political speakers, and are able to network with other Israel activists from campuses across the country.

“The goal [of the program] is to get Jewish and pro-Israel students engaged in Canadian politics at an advanced level. Most of the students are already politically involved prior to participating in the program, but the fellowship program encourages them to volunteer on political campaigns, take on leadership roles in youth wings of political parties, and ultimately work on Parliament Hill or in a provincial legislature,” said CJPAC executive director Mark Waldman.

“By the end of the year, we ensure that all of our fellows have received enough political and campaign training that they can feel comfortable working on a campaign. Many of our past fellows have gone on to work in senior positions in government,” Waldman said.

Josh Zelikovitz, a fourth-year student at Queen’s University in political studies and history, found the practical, “hands-on stuff” to be the most valuable skills he learned at the CJPAC Fellowship Conference, held Jan. 28 to 31 in Ottawa.

According to his YouTube testimonial, he found the training in fundraising and canvassing to be very useful, and, as a Liberal, he most enjoyed the group’s meeting with federal leader Michael Ignatieff.

The CJPAC Fellowship Program runs each year from September to the end of April. Applications for the 2010-2011 academic year will be available on CJPAC’s website by Aug. 1.

For more information or to apply for next year, go to www.cjpac.ca.

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