After a tumultuous start to 2018, the Ontario PC Party gathered for its first convention as the governing party in 15 years. No surprise the energy at the Toronto Congress Centre was electric with over 1,500 attendees gathered to celebrate this past June’s electoral success.
One of the more resounding takeaway’s from Premier Doug Ford’s rally speech on Friday, fireside chat on Saturday night and hallway chatter of MPPs is that government needs to become more responsive to everyday “folks” (as the Premier often says). Many of the grassroots members echoed this sentiment and this is an important note for individuals and businesses looking to advocate to this government.
The activity in the rooms and halls of the convention centre was symbolic of the breakneck speed in which the Ford government has been operating since its June election win. Coming off an unprecedented summer sitting, MPPs chatted with party members and loyalists about the progress on issues such as ending hallway medicine, reducing tax burdens for families and job creators, energy policy, and addressing the fiscal deficit and debt facing the province. The campaign platform really is the guiding light of this government’s mandate.
The intensity is unlikely to let up over the coming months as the government builds towards the provincial budget in the spring of 2019. Budget consultations take months, as does the costing and drafting of budget documents.
While the specifics in the provincial budget are yet to be determined, all included initiatives, will certainly be subject to the same litmus test—is this program in the interest of everyday people? Does it bring relief to pocketbooks? Does it encourage private investment in business, support individuals, and communities? Does it set up Ontario for long-term economic and social prosperity? These considerations will underpin the agenda of the Tories for the next four years, creating both an opportunity and challenge for those hoping to advance their efforts/initiatives/agendas.
Why does this matter? Timing is everything. If you have a policy ask, regulatory concern or efficiency proposal it is imperative that discussions with government officials take place soon or you risk missing the pre-budget opportunity.
For those who do not follow politics closely, a party convention is a gathering of card-carrying members and donors typically on a bi-annual basis. Often the convention location rotates amongst major voting areas (think Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and London in the Ontario context) and run from Friday through Sunday. Convention formats are typically similar across party lines in that they feature policy debates, constitutional amendment discussions, volunteer engagement workshops, election of Party executives/operatives, and a whole lot of rah-rah team building.
For most participants, the best activities of a convention are the Friday and Saturday evening hospitality suites where members and observers get to raise a glass together and chat politics, sometimes in themed suites with satirical swag and buttons for politicos to collect as mementos for years to come.
With the fall economic statement and now the Party convention behind us—the push to budget 2019 has begun. Do you have an inventive service delivery proposal? Are you innovating in the healthcare space? Do you have efficiency solutions? Ask our Public Affairs team how we can help you engage the government ahead of Budget 2019.
——— Written by Tausha Michaud, former Director, Public Affairs, NATIONAL Public Relations, and Matt Hiraishi, former Manager, NATIONAL Public Relations