• Craig Brockwell

A starting Point

November sunrise

The recent Ontario Provincial Budget presented on November 5th delivered on a number of initiatives, including a record $38.5 billion deficit. As we have done in the past, we won’t analyze the Budget in detail as it relates to your individual business interests but rather use it as a milestone for the next steps in your government relations plan for the coming year or years.

In simpler terms, we hope that it can help mold your lobbying targets moving forward.

What we can tell you is that outside of the record deficit spending, the Budget delivered some large investments in a number of areas including but not limited to Education, Health, Small business, rural broadband, tax credits as well as pandemic aid.

From our perspective, this Budget, along with the previous Budgets indicates that the Ford government has a relatively strong willingness to spend money. Unlike many Conservative governments, it would appear that Premier Ford and his Cabinet have little difficulty in outlaying large investments in various areas.

Adding on to this narrative and with the next election on the horizon, your business, association, or organization has about ten months of heavy lifting in directing your attention to specific lobbying targets.

Moving forward from September 2021, this government’s focus will be on the 2022 election.

Ten months is not enough time for any organization to move a government’s attention to turn to complex or broad-reaching policy. Consequently, if your goals are big you will need to start your efforts with an understanding that you are trying to build support for government action only after the next election date. To this point, you also need to factor into your strategy a multi-Party approach in the event that the Ford government falls. At this point, we don’t foresee this happening, however, anything is possible.

Multi-Party approaches can be far more labour intensive and need a delicate approach. What you say and do along the course of this approach can inadvertently and negatively impact the ultimate decision government makes. We suggest that no individual organization can embark on this approach on their own without dedicated Lobbyists working on their behalf.

In order to maximize success with this approach, your message to all the Political Parties needs to be consistent. Different messages to different Parties never work and this point is even more true if your intent is to influence a future government. Different messages can be used openly during the question period by opposing Parties that will not only embarrass you but undermine your overall goals.

It is also even more important with this approach that the message be simple and easily digestible. Complexity is not your friend at this point. More complex details can be introduced further down the line when you know who the person is who will be sitting in the driver’s seat and able to deliver on your targets. This too should be approached by experienced communications professionals. You really want a message that is simple and yet compelling. Development for both these approaches is no easy task!

If your goals are small and short-term then an understanding as to where the Ford government is positioned with respect to your sector is an important first step. If they are in line with you then your path to success may be an easier one. If not, then our previous points about a long-term strategy may be better suited to your needs.

Nonetheless, the communications strategy we outlined is important to note. Simple and clear messages are the way to go. Work with your team to this end and the possibility for success is greater. Then figure out which strategy you need to employ and get your motors running!

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