Parliament has risen for the summer and will not return to regular sittings until September 18th. Many organizations choose to also “take the summer off” from advocacy activities and turn their focus to internal business operations. While one can understand the need to take a break, it can be a short-sighted approach and cause an organization to lose momentum gained from the previous parliamentary session.
As summer approaches, we at Grassroots challenge our clients to distinguish themselves from others – don’t let easy summer advocacy opportunities pass you by.
Building relationships with bureaucrats and staffers.
Those who really understand the inner workings of government know that the implementers of government policy and decisions are certainly guided by parliamentarians but executed by bureaucrats and staffers. Many argue that these are the folks who can be even more influential than MPs or ministers who often come and go with every election. Meanwhile, bureaucrats and staffers may have careers of 15, 20, 30 years or more of service and are well worth getting to know, professionally and personally.
Scheduling time for a coffee or an after-hours drink can be a simple and affordable way to get acquainted and build a relationship. When these opportunities present themselves, resist the urge to “pitch” to them; instead, get to know them and listen! Talk less – listen more. Pay attention to what they have to say. As your relationship gets stronger, you can gently pick their brains and get a first-hand feel for what’s going on but take it slow, no pressure. Most bureaucrats and staffers are quite open to meeting with business leaders and stakeholders because, let’s face it, they know that relationships will come in very handy when they themselves may be on the market for new opportunities.
Continue to seek out easier meetings with MPs and Minsters on their turf.
Elected officials are always glad to get home – literally and figuratively. This can present better chances for an in-person meeting without the pressure of House of Commons rules & regulations and limited schedules that dominate time spent in the capital.
But keep your purpose focused and well communicated. You do need to let the person setting the meeting know that you’ll not waste their boss’s time. Flattery may work without manipulation or even any hint of manipulation. And finding any local angle that might be of interest to the MP, as it relates to their home riding or community, is always a great way to make a connection. For example, leveraging the financial value of your organization in the riding community and the local value of employment opportunities for the people living and voting there.
Grassroots can help you gather detailed information about MPs in all ridings across Canada and help target specific MPs in a way that can better connect you to their priorities. Targeted communication always gets better results than a shotgun approach.
Clients are asking:
The most often asked question in times of minority governments is – will there be a snap election anytime soon? The short answer is no.
Within the Liberal and NDP alliance, while showing signs of fragility, neither party wants to trigger an election. The NDP continue to support the Liberals as their polling numbers are consistently stagnant and money to fund a campaign always an issue. They are in no hurry. The Liberals are content to carry on and unless a major screw up comes to light, we foresee no election call until spring 2024 at the earliest, or the fixed election deadline of 2025.
Of course, the Conservatives would prefer to go to the polls at any point, but all three opposition parties would be needed to fell the government and that seems highly improbable.
The next most commonly posed question is around the economy – how might it impact this Liberal government?
With inflation rates seemingly continuing to rise, there is no doubt it will impact the federal government. As Canadians see their mortgage payments rising, soaring grocery prices, and takeout food getting more and more expensive, people will be paying closer attention to what the opposition parties are saying.
Canadians are tiring of paying more for just about everything, and with the Liberals flailing in the polls, and, having been in power for 8 years already, 9 or 10 years by the time the next election is called, voters may be ready for a change. The Conservatives are in a great spot to put new ideas forward and win voters over. Canadians have had enough.
Remember, most voters only pay close attention to politics occasionally or rarely, and they often vote out a party rather than vote another one in.
The team at Grassroots will continue to closely monitor the political landscape and keep you updated.
Enjoy your summer!