No Spring Election Spells Relief For Lobby World, Time To Work
By Kady O'Malley
The Hill Times
June 6th, 2005
Lobbyists say now that there won't be a spring election, they can get on with their work and most predict it will be a busier than usual summer. They have to catch up.
What a difference a month can make. Now that the Liberal government managed to pull itself out of a Parliamentary near-death experience, lobbyists are surveying the political landscape to determine the best way to shepherd their clients through at least one more session of this Liberal minority government.
The Hill Times spoke with veteran lobbyists and communications gurus to find out what's been going on behind closed doors since the budget vote showdown--and how they plan to spend the next few months.
Hillwatch co-founder Scott Proudfoot said that in the weeks before last month's confidence vote, he was convinced that an election was imminent.
"I was pretty sure that they were going to do it until Ms. Stronach crossed the floor. Like a lot of people, we just assumed it was going to happen," said Mr. Proudfoot.
Now that the prospect of a spring election seems to have been averted, he said, the government will likely get back to governing--which means that lobbyists like him will be back on the job of monitoring policy developments and advising clients of what's going down on the Hill.
"The time frame has moved from two weeks to six to eight months, so people are starting on things that would have been put on the backburner," said Mr. Proudfoot.
It's still a very short timeline, he noted.
"Eight months, in terms of getting things done in government, is a very short time. But the fact is that when you're looking at an imminent election, there are issues that don't get dealt with because everyone wants to wait until the election is resolved, and if there's a new government, there will be a period of adjustment. There are a lot of items that officials have been talking to ministers about, and they're now prepared to engage on these issues."
Although the traditional interpretation has been that minority governments are productive, he said, this one hasn't worked out that way.
"For whatever reason, the chemistry just doesn't seem to be there."
With the onset of the summer break, there is also likely to be a last-minute legislative push.
"This happens every year at the end of the legislative session--there's a tremendous rush to push everything out the door before MPs go off on hiatus, and we're going to go through that in the same way. Some items will make the cut, and others won't," said Mr. Proudfoot.
When it comes to dealing with governments, it's always about timetables, he said.
"There are budget timetables, departmental schedules, the parliamentary schedule--an election is just one more timetable that you factor into the equation," said Mr. Proudfoot.