Here We Go Again
January 27, 2016
Early next week, the provincial government in British Columbia will return to Victoria, the provincial capital, to begin a new sitting of the house. This will be initiated by a Speech from the Throne scheduled on February 9th. Here’s what any successful government relations strategy should watch out for and include once the legislature resumes:
- The Speech from the Throne is scheduled for February 9th. This marks the opening of the sitting of the legislature, but more importantly it outlines what the focus and priority of government will be moving forward… It is important to watch the content of that speech closely as it will hint at what is to come over the coming year and beyond that may affect you. Your government relations strategy should be structured to account for those government priorities before the speech, or be altered to do so after the fact. A failure to do so will leave you swimming upstream and even worse, having no idea why you are struggling so much to make any advances.
- The provincial budget will be released on February 16th. The budget is exactly what it would appear to be: the government’s fiscal plan for the upcoming year. Much like the Speech from the Throne, this will give a look into what exactly the plan for the government will be over the coming year. The budget contains much more detail than the Speech from the Throne, however, and also shows where the government’s money will be going. This is an important document to watch as the money government spends (or doesn’t spend) affects us all. A good government relations strategy will have included reaching out to government on your budget priorities, and a response to their inclusion (or lack thereof) in the budget on that day. A good thing to remember is that the best time to start planning for the next years’ budget is the day the budget for that year is announced.
- The return to the house means the resumption of Question Period, when the opposition is provided the opportunity to hold the government to account for its actions and policies. This is often the source of stories from the media, and something raised in Question Period can become the topic of the day very quickly. It is important in a good government relations strategy to follow these debates closely and be prepared to respond quickly with public comment to anything mentioned that relates to you.
- The return to Victoria also means that MLAs and Ministers will be held captive in the capital four days a week, for twelve weeks over the next four months. A good government relations strategy should include a plan to meet with these elected officials in person to make sure they are aware of the issues that impact your business, and the associated affect on constituents within their riding. The best way to do this on a large scale is to organize a legislative outreach event which will allow you to make contact with a large group of elected officials in an efficient and productive way. If they don’t know about your business and its issues, they can’t make sure they are considered when decisions are made.
If your government relations strategy doesn’t at the very least include consideration of these factors, you may find it challenging to achieve your intended goals. Make sure you’re accounting for these basic rudiments of government operations in your strategy, or find someone to work with who will.