A changing public affairs environment in Toronto

January 6, 2016

Over the past few months, a number of new public affairs firms have been created in Toronto and Ottawa. Talented individuals have either opened new firms or joined existing ones. This has created a competitive environment with well-established large government relations companies facing newer, leaner and hungrier firms.

Queen’s Park is also changing.

A number of provincial Liberal staffers have made the jump and joined the team that Prime Minister Trudeau is assembling in Ottawa. This means that some political staffers were promoted and new ones have been brought in from the private sector.

The Leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, Patrick Brown, has also been active and recruited a number of Ottawa staffers to beef up his team. Brown has been emboldened by a series of issues from the past plaguing the Wynne government. While 2015 hasn’t been the “annus horribilis” that it could have been for the Ontario Liberals, it certainly has not been a good year as evidenced by recent media coverage. While the Premier is putting a brave face, she probably would much rather deal with the substantive policy issues that she’s trying to introduce rather than the fallout from past issues.

This creates opportunities for groups, private and not-for-profit, looking to advance their objectives with the provincial government.

Recently, a number of organizations have increased their efforts to advance their objectives in Queen’s Park and we’re seeing a growing level of interest from other groups to do the same. Public affairs professionals, like myself, are now targeting the provincial scene – as evidenced by my trip in Toronto next week to meet with potential and existing clients with Flagship Solutions’ Toronto staff.

The next provincial election should be held in 30 months (June 14, 2018). This is a long time in politics. A lot of things can change. But governments need allies, and these allies are usually not made the month before an election. Relationships are cultivated and need to be nurtured. This is the time to be active on the government relations side.

A changing public affairs environment in Toronto