By Peter Nogalo
It would be an understatement to suggest the election of an NDP government in Alberta–long considered Canada’s most conservative province—would be the equivalent of a political earthquake. Yet after four decades of essentially one party rule, early this spring pollsters, pundits, voters, and the business community were left to wonder just what Alberta would look like under its “new” New Democratic majority government.
The Alberta business community, already dealing with the effects of the recent oil shock, publicly offered polite questions and concerns about the NDP campaign platform. Behind the scenes, things were a bit more frenetic, with oil companies and government relations firms quickly on the hunt for anyone who might make sense of what was to come.
After 12 consecutive elections and 43 years of dynastic rule, businesses in Alberta could perhaps be forgiven for thinking there would ever be anything but a Progressive Conservative government in their province. Here in Mississauga, Ontario, and Canada, for that matter, the business community can’t assume that any party will rule indefinitely. In fact, Mississauga has often played the role of kingmaker in deciding which government will take power—and does so decisively.
It is for these reasons the business community in Mississauga, if we hope to gain and retain influence with policymakers, must be scrupulously non-partisan in our government relations efforts.
Through years of working with staff and volunteers to advance MBOT’s policy interests, I am proud to say that personal and partisan considerations have never weighed on our efforts–and for good reason.
For one, our members and volunteers come to MBOT from across the political spectrum. Secondly, an organization that is seen to be too closely aligned with specific partisan interests risks losing credibility and influence among others who do not share that limited focus.
None of this is to say that MBOT won’t actively engage in the political process to advance the interests of our members, but when doing so it will always be on an issue-by-issue basis relevant to the membership. As we look to a federal election this fall, there may be particular issues of particular importance to MBOT, and these issues will be advanced, but it will always be on a non-partisan basis.
Peter Nogalo is MBOT’s Vice Chair of Policy and is a longtime member of the Policy and Government Affairs committee. For more information on MBOT’s policy efforts, including becoming a member of the Policy and Government Affairs committee, please contact Peter Nogalo.