Posts tagged ‘Canada’

What is Public Affairs? Some thoughts from a global perspective

English: Illuminatable Earth globe, Columbus, ...

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This last week saw our latest Global Public Affairs Leadership meeting here in Brussels. In attendance were public affairs practitioners from global centres like Beijing and DC, major European capitals such as London, Berlin and Paris and a host of other places from Latin America to Canada. It just goes to show that wherever you are,  the public policy agenda is likely to have an impact on your business.

It was great to participate in some informed debate on hot issues; the regulation of financial service markets, energy security and climate change and consumer product safety amongst them. It would appear that increasingly issues are global and markets interconnected, even if the issues play out locally.

Much the same observation can be said for public affairs itself. While the objective may be the same the world over, the tactics used may change depending on the market, the regulation in place (in terms of direct contact between stakeholders and government) and the issue and its lifecycle.  The discussions led me to the observation that it was worth putting down somewhere my own understanding of some of the terms discussed – from communications to public affairs and finally government relations.

I’ve tried to do so in the attached file below.

Public affairs and government relations diagram

I’d be interested in people’s reaction especially in Brussels where the terms government relations and public affairs tend to be used interchangeably. At the same time communications tends to be looked down upon by those who only do the strict lobbying piece, as if decision-makers are only informed by views expressed in one-on-one meetings. Our recent digital MEP survey suggest otherwise.

One final thought. Our session on this subject matter appeared to me to suggest that the conditioning of the environment in which decisions are taken (i.e. the public affairs as opposed to government relations piece) is increasingly important for actors irrespective of the market they are in. It is in this context of course that digital tools fit in…

James

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June 28, 2009 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

Big lesson from wee Canada

Tired of all the election speculation coming out of the U.S. these days?  Well allow this polite, humble Canadian to steer your attention north of the Canada-U.S. border to where another federal election campaign is underway – one that may be over before most of the world realizes it had ever began.

 

I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that since settling at Fleishman Hillard Brussels, I haven’t heard a peep about the excitement back home, despite my religious attachment to FH Canada’s election blog – http://election08.fleishman.ca/ (yes, what a shameless plug). What with global economic meltdowns, U.S. election debates and U.K. party politics, there’s not much room in the political newscycle for wee Canada.

But gosh darn it (yes, Canadians are that polite), wee Canada deserves some attention!  After all, if you consider that the land of beavers, Mounties and maple syrup will be the first member of the G8 to go to the polls following “the worst financial crisis since ’29”, there may be a few reasons to watch and learn from the Canadian experience.

While I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting that the fate of incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a pre-cursor to John McCain’s (all told, it’s most likely that Harper will eek out a small minority government this coming Monday), both men’s laissez-faire approach have been interpreted by their opponents as “out-of-touch” and lacking compassion.  Just look at the reaction to Mr. Harper’s suggestion yesterday that the recent downturn is an opportunity to buy cheap stocks and you’ll understand how exceedingly sensitive members of the public are becoming to the current economic situation.  It seems people want both a big heart and big government in these times of need and the small-C conservatives who ignore this point, both in Canada and abroad, do so at their peril.

But then again, we should not forget that “conservative” governments, including the current Republican administration, have been at the head of some of the largest government spending projects in modern history.  No Child Left Behind, money for AIDS in Africa, the war in Iraq – good or bad, these are all record-making expenditures that precede the most recent and single largest cheque ever written by a national government in the history of the world.  Perhaps when John McCain suggested in yesterday’s presidential debate that Barack Obama would raise taxes, the Democratic candidate should have answered, “Yes, to pay for Republican bills!”.  And given the fact that an economic turnaround is not foreseeable at this point, could it be that these big spend tendencies will be reinforced?  Again, today’s support from the U.K. Tories for Gordon Brown’s £50 billion bank bail-out is but another example.

But I digress – and most certainly do so at the peril of future postings on this blog!  So let me end by revising my argument about the significance of the highly under-covered Canadian campaign.  Perhaps not only will this election be a clear reminder for conservatives, worldwide, of the need to go back to their big government roots, it may in fact represent one of the last major Western campaigns for a while where conservatives can credibly argue for smaller government.

But then again, I’m getting ahead of myself.  I am after all just a humble Canuck pining for a little world attention.

Canuckia Blair

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October 9, 2008 at 9:33 am 9 comments


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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

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