“Since I left Parliament Hill, I’ve worked exclusively in agriculture advocacy. Our issues are complex so being able to communicate about rural issues in language that suburban/urban policymakers understand is key.”
WHY GOVERNMENT RELATIONS?
I’ve always been interested in politics, policy and strategy. I took political science in university and my first job after undergrad was working for a Member of Parliament on the Hill. It didn’t take long for my curiosity to be peaked by the GR professionals that I would meet and engage with as a staffer. Seeing lobbyists pitch their concerns to MPs in meetings, speak to technical issues at Committee, work a room at receptions and yet work in the private sector was a very attractive job prospect. It seemed dynamic, fascinating and important.
Creating the Agriculture Carbon Alliance (ACA) in 2021 is one of the things that I am most proud of. A first of its kind, ACA unites every major farm group (export oriented and supply management) and over 190,000 farm businesses to work collaboratively to advocate for smart, sensible agri-environmental policy.
APPROACH TO ADVOCACY AND STRATEGY?
I like to think of the ‘5 ‘Ps’ of Advocacy:
1) Persistence: Have to be there day-in and day-out telling your story, or someone else will tell it for you
2) Policy Prioritization: Distill the laundry list of demands into a few key policy objectives
3) Partnerships: Tough to go it alone, take the time to present a unified front with likeminded stakeholders
4) Political Realities: No point in arguing with the ocean about the tides
5) Public Opinion: Understand what Canadians think about your big policy issues
WHAT HAS INSPIRED YOUR ONGOING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT LATELY?
I would highly recommend reading/listening to Atomic Habits by James Cleary and Never Split the Difference by Christopher Voss. The former is about how making a number of small changes compound like interest and the latter is about negotiating.
Also, I’ve gained a lot of tools by taking courses in change management, negotiation and consensus building, corporate strategy and risk management.
TO ASSUME A LEADERSHIP POSITION IN THIS SECTOR...
Be patient, biding your time is a skill that is underappreciated and pays dividends, and in the meantime take advantage of every opportunity, like GRIC’s GR Mentor-Mentee Program. I’m in my second year as a Mentor, it’s a program I wish I had access to 10 years ago when I left the Hill.
FINAL THOUGHTS TO OUR COMMUNITY?
Hang in there! Lobbying has skyrocketed during the pandemic and our meeting schedules and calendars have gotten out of control. The ease of access to policy makers has changed the dynamics for those of us based in Ottawa, we are used to business being done face-to-face. When the pandemic is all said and done, there will be a correction for our industry, and I hope to be in far less Zoom meetings.
About Canadian Canola Growers Association
For over 35 years, Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA) has been helping farmers succeed. As the national policy voice for Canada’s 43,000 canola farmers, CCGA enhances farm competitiveness through in-depth policy analysis and advocating for policy, regulatory and legislative changes that impact farm profitability. For more information visit www.ccga.ca or follow CCGA on Twitter @ccga_ca
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