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Program Overview

The Institute for Democratic Leadership 2024: Doing Democracy Differently

The Institute for Democratic Leadership is a 6-week program that seeks to engage thoughtful community members who are interested in exploring not only what today’s legislatures look like, but what could be - particularly those from groups underrepresented as legislators today. The Institute welcomes anyone who wants to understand what it looks like to be elected to office, leading with authenticity grounded in values, and transforming political representation. That includes people who may not see themselves or their aspirations reflected in today’s legislators, those who want to create change, and those who want to better understand how our governments work. Applications are now open - apply now

The Faculty of Arts hosts the Institute for Democratic Leadership annually. This innovative leadership program for aspiring legislators and advocates was inspired by the highly successful program developed by the University of British Columbia’s Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions (external link) .

An Educational, Engaging and Immersive 6-Week Program

As a fellow in the Institute, you will engage in intensive, hands-on workshops, and mentoring and training from current and former legislators, senior civil servants, high-profile journalists and successful advocates. The program, which runs over three weekends in May and June, culminates in a trip to Ottawa (pandemic permitting) and where fellows put their learning into practice in an intensive parliamentary simulation.

Applications Open: February 21, 2023

Applications Close: March 31, 2023

Selection Process: April 3 - April 7, 2023

Successful Applicants informed by: Weeks of April 10 and April 17, 2023

Virtual Program Onboarding and Meet & Greet: May 9, 2023 at 7:00pm-8:30pm EST

Program Dates:

  • May 13-14 
  • May 27-28 
  • June 9-11

Learn from Political and Community Leaders 

  • Listen and engage with the various panels 

Develop Greater Understanding of Canadian Politics 

  • Enhance your academic theoretical knowledge of Canadian politics, and learn how to apply these learnings through simulated parliamentary activities 

Engagement and Networking 

  • Engage in a meaningful relationship-building environment with emerging and established community leaders interested in similar leadership and political career paths

Enhance Your Leadership Skills 

  • Gain new insights on how to develop your leadership skills from special guests coming with transformational and diverse perspectives

Build Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile 

  • Receive a certificate once you’ve completed this program to add to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Political and Community Leaders-led Panels 

  • Meet and listen to political and community leaders as they engage with fellows on a meaningful conversations about their experiences as leaders, policy makers and advocates 

Political Identity and Parliamentary Procedures Workshops 

  • Participate in interactive workshops that delves into shaping your political identity, developing your leadership skills, and understanding how parliamentary procedures work in forming legislation and public policy 

Parliamentary Readiness Bootcamps 

  • Three weekends filled with immersive experiential learning opportunities and simulated parliamentary activities to learn what it takes to be a legislator in the Canadian political system such as attending caucus meetings and participating in committee meetings to applying these learnings in Ottawa 

Canadian Politics Educational Resources 

  • Be equipped for your next civic engagement with our educational resources on the foundations and structures of Canadian politics to map the system 


  • Engage in a meaningful relationship-building environment with emerging and established community leaders interested in similar leadership and political career paths, as well as special guests with extensive leadership, advocacy and political backgrounds 

To be eligible for the Institute, you must meet all criteria below: 

  • Emerging and current leaders that are 18+ years of age including students from institutions across the country and professionals
  • Demonstrable interest in leadership
  • Commitment to the successful completion requirements of the Institute which includes onboarding, weekly supplementary activities, and weekend programming sessions on May 13, 14, 27, 28 in Toronto and June 9, 10 and 11 in Ottawa.
  • Demonstrated interest in leadership and public policy and clear articulation of how the program will help further their career or educational goals
  • Demonstrated interest in building their own leadership skills with strong sense of where and how they would apply their newfound knowledge
  • Diversity of political thought and geographic region
  • Diversity in terms of Indigenous identity, race, gender identity, (dis)ability, and sexual orientation

Participation in the Institute for Democratic Leadership will cost $2000 for successful applicants.

This fee includes the following:

  • 6-week intensive and experiential program with panels, workshops and simulation activities 
  • Daily breakfasts and afternoon coffee breaks during the Institute 
  • Travel and accommodations for the 3-night trip to the capital city of Canada, Ottawa 

Scholarships and Bursaries 

The Faculty of Arts is committed to making this program accessible to successful applicants, therefore, we highly suggest that you apply for the program and the bursary if you need financial support. 

  • Limited number of bursaries will be available for people who are experiencing extensive financial difficulties and would not be able to take part in the program without financial help.
  • We are grateful for the generosity of the Society of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (SASSH) as a Champion Sponsor. For TMU Faculty of Arts undergraduate students, there are 15 reserved spots for full bursaries to cover the cost of the entire program ($2000 each). 
  • We encourage anyone interested in registering to explore grants and sponsorships from their organizations, such as corporate development fund and student union conference funding. 
  • A bursary form will be sent to you if you indicate that you require financial support. In order to secure the bursary, a $200 deposit is required to guarantee full participation in the program.
  • More information about scholarships and bursaries can be found on our Partners & Sponsors page

The Institute encourages youth, women, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and 2SLGBTQ+ folks to apply, and learn more about the role of gender and intersectionality in politics and the current political climate.

What is the eligibility criteria? 

  • Please refer to the Eligibility Criteria above.

What types of questions should I expect in the application?

  • The questions are a combination of basic demographic and applicant profile questions as well as open-ended questions. 

What is the selection committee looking for when they review my application?

  • The selection committee will encompass the IDL team. Each submission will be anonymized (names, school and workplace institutions removed) and reviewed independently by the IDL team members. Criteria will include: meeting eligibility criteria, availability to attend programming and complete supplementary activities, clear expression of what you hope to get out of the program, clear career goals, and leadership potential.

Is there a participation fee?

  • Please refer to the Cost Details found above.

What is the time commitment for the Institute?

  • Time commitment for the Institute includes an onboarding virtual session in the first week of May, bi-weekly supplementary activities, and attending the three weekend programming sessions in May to June 2023, all-day.

What are the required dates of participation?

  • Please see above for important dates.