Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Deciphering the Speech from the Throne. What does it mean for your Association?

Today marked the Conservative government's Speech from the Throne, the direction Prime Minister Harper will be taking Canada over the course of the next few years. Unsurprisingly, the diminishing economy has changed the the Conservatives' policy course and the Speech from the Throne reflected this direction. From a 16 page speech, the Governor General delivered 10 of those pages on subjects related directly to the economy. For association professionals with an interest in financial and international affairs, the following are indicators of where there will be opportunities:

  • Reforming global finance to re-examine and renew the rules that underpin the global financial system.

  • Avoiding structural deficits by putting all federal expenditures under the microscope of responsible spending.

  • Focusing on job skills development especially through the skilled trades and providing further support to the automotive and aerospace industries.

  • Expand investment and trade by modernizing investment, competition and copyright laws while working with the United States to address shared challenges and pursuing trade agreements in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

  • Reducing red tape, fixing procurement, improving program and service delivery, and improving the management of federal agencies, boards, commissions and Crown corporations. In this regard, it's likely the Conservatives will be looking for means to tighten the belt. If your association will be looking to expand departmental or program support budgets, you may wish to seek the counsel of a professional as this will be a tough (but not impossible) time to start such an endeavor.

While the economy is the primary focus, do not despair if your association's mandate falls outside this arena. The Throne Speech identified six other items:

  • Securing Canada's Energy Future - Are you involved in Energy issues? Now is the time to take note....BTW, Action Strategies has worked in the energy sector.

  • Tackling Climate Change and Preserving Canada’s Environment

  • Extending a number of social support measures such as the homelessness agenda, improving Universal Child Care, as well as building support for those caring for the disabled

  • Tackling Crime

  • Continuing the Afghanistan mission

  • Important democratic reforms that will give British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario more seats in the House of Commons. Moreover, Senators may face term limits.

The bottom line is this: If you wish to understand where your association's policy agenda is likely to stand (or stand a chance), the time is now to conduct an legislative and political audit. Leveraging the Speech from the Throne by identifying the priorities, gives an indication of how lobbying success can be revealed. Conducting the audit now as 2008 comes to an end means you will be ahead of the curve and save your organization countless dollars and time.

Does this strike a cord? Drop me a line or leave your thoughts.
Mark Buzan is Principal of Action Strategies, a GR Consultancy for non-profits. Subscribe now to his Lobbying tips newsletter at www.actionstrategies.ca/Action_Strategies/Newsletter.html

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