All posts by Ensight Canada

Trump’s Inauguration and Canada: Ensight’s John Delacourt on 570 News Kitchener

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Ensight Vice President, John Delacourt, recently appeared on Kitchener’s 570 News to discuss the upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump and what this will mean for Canada moving forward.

The interview has been reproduced below.


Note: This interview originally appeared on 570 News: The Eric Drozd Show on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. 

John Delacourt is a Vice President at Ensight and a former director of communications for the Liberal Party Research Bureau.

Trudeau and Trump: Ensight’s John Delacourt on 1310 News

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Ensight Vice President, John Delacourt, recently appeared on Ottawa’s 1310 News to discuss how Justin Trudeau should go about dealing with Donald Trump.

The interview has been reproduced below.


Note: This interview originally appeared on 1310 News on Monday, January 16, 2017. 

John Delacourt is a Vice President at Ensight and a former director of communications for the Liberal Party Research Bureau.

The Art of Dealing With Donald Trump: Ensight’s John Delacourt in iPolitics

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By: John Delacourt
Vice President, Ensight

Note: This article originally appeared in iPolitics on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. 

Following a U.S. presidential campaign marked by bold, provocative gestures, it was a move fit for the times: Not long after the confetti was swept off the floor at Trump’s victory party, the Trudeau government signalled, via diplomatic channels, that it would be receptive to opening up the North American Free Trade Agreement.

For those on the opposition benches, Trudeau was being naïve at best — approaching our largest trading partner with an overweening eagerness to set the frame. It did not take a great deal of strategic insight to read Trump’s sabre-rattling about ripping up NAFTA as being all about Mexico, not us.

Yet there was more to the gesture than the initial interpretations saw. As we look ahead to the first 100 days of a Trump government, we can see the components of a new approach to relations with our largest trading partner in Trudeau’s overture.

Now more than ever, in the kabuki theatre of international trade relations, what occurs behind the scenes defines the gestures on stage. What truly set the tone for our dialogue with a Trump government was what was not said during the presidential campaign. There was little commentary from the prime minister or his cabinet in the months leading up to Election Day, and for a good reason: This is a trading relationship that accounts for approximately $2.4 billion in goods and services crossing the border daily, supporting over 10 million jobs on both sides. The Trudeau government’s message discipline assured the incoming government that we would come to the table in good faith, and that the NAFTA gesture would be seen in the best light. It’s about trust.

The commentariat in Canada and around the world has made much of the stark contrasts between Trump and Trudeau: the former allegedly inward-looking and polarizing, the latter a global brand ambassador, defining Canada as an innovation champion and the last centrist outpost in a rapidly polarizing world.

What these profiles in broad strokes conceal are the similarities between the two governments. You can be assured that Trump’s team will keep a strong focus on the priorities and concerns of a beleaguered middle class, just as the Trudeau government did with three big policy announcements in its first year — its middle class tax cut, the Canada Child Benefit and the Canada Pension Plan agreement with the provinces.

Republicans will stray at their peril from the president’s focus on ‘making good deals’ for the American people. It will be incumbent on the Trudeau government to be just as pragmatic, just as transactional with the Trump administration.

In the first year of its mandate, expect a similar ‘retail’ approach from the Trump government to the demographic that feels most acutely the impact of limited real GDP growth, the erosion of the manufacturing sector and the struggles faced by the energy, agricultural and resource sectors.

Much has been made of the fact that all of the progress made working out the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has now been lost with Trump in the Oval Office. Throughout the summer, the official line was that we were making steady, incremental progress towards an agreement that would redraw the map for global trade, foregrounding the Pacific Rim region as a hub for accelerated growth and stronger trade relationships.

Yet the TPP was always a flawed document, and it is questionable whether it would have fared any better had Clinton won. A Trump government is not going to focus its energies on such sweeping multilateral agreements. Trump wants to make deals — better deals — as bilateral agreements. What this means for the Canadian economy is that a sector-by-sector approach to the U.S. — one that ensures both governments can claim victories — is the only way forward.

The good news is that, through the cross-country consultations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the government initiated last year, then-International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland received the best briefing possible, at the grassroots level, of the current state of play for Canada-U.S. trade relations. From dairy farmers in Quebec to lobster fishermen in the Atlantic provinces, these conversations are going to be key to ensuring that Canada’s interests are articulated and stoutly defended in the months ahead.

The challenge will come in how fast-moving the anticipated big ticket announcements from the Trump administration will be, in every area from corporate tax reform to health care. The Republicans “won big,” as the president would say. Freed from the kind of partisan gridlock that marred the progress the Obama administration could make moving legislation forward, the Republicans will be looking to get things done in a hurry. And it will be the GOP’s congressional agenda, rather than simply the president himself, that will determine his legislative record.

But the Republicans will stray at their peril from the president’s focus on “making good deals” for the American people. It will be incumbent on the Trudeau government to be just as pragmatic, just as transactional with the Trump administration. Clear-eyed, focused and resolute in defending Canadian interests — our neighbours and strongest trading partners on the international stage would not expect any less of us. It’s time to bring our ‘A’ game to the table and refine our version of the art of the deal.

John Delacourt is a Vice President at Ensight and a former director of communications for the Liberal Party Research Bureau.

Ensight adds member of senior government staff as Liberals enter year of major decisions

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Ensight has hired a leading communicator and strategist from within the Liberal government to advance its clients’ priorities in Ottawa.

John Delacourt, who served as Director of Communications for the Liberal Research Bureau through December 2016, will help clients navigate government relations and communications challenges from the public affairs firm’s Ottawa office.

“I’m excited to be joining Canada’s most outstanding network of public affairs professionals at Ensight, where I will help clients advance their priorities with concrete, measurable results,” said Delacourt “Access to the best knowledge and insight can be the difference between success and failure, and we are here to provide valuable advice that elevates our clients’ interests.”

Ensight Principals Jaime Watt and Barbara Fox noted that in a year of major decisions for the federal Liberal government, clients will benefit from the valued depth of experience and expertise that John has gained as an advisor to Liberal ministers and opposition leadership over two decades in Ottawa.

In his role as Director of Communications for the Liberal Research Bureau, John played a key leadership role in the planning and execution of the digital communications strategy for both caucus and cabinet. In addition, he worked closely with the Prime Minister’s Office to provide issues management and strategic support in a wide range of policy areas. John has also served Liberal opposition leadership and stakeholder relations and communications roles.

In his extensive agency experience in the private sector, John has provided counsel and communications advice to a vast range of clients in the technology, health care, education and financial services sectors. In addition, he has authored and managed winning campaigns, influential brands and digital communications products in the Ottawa marketplace, providing counsel on marketing strategy, crisis management and media training to senior leadership in private and public organizations.

John is a published author of two books, and he began his career writing for broadcast news after completing a graduate degree at the University of Toronto.

Ensight is a full-service, federal public affairs and communications firm, and a strategic partnership of Canada’s leading communications and public affairs firms – Enterprise and Navigator.


Will Stewart

Introducing Political Traction (Redux)

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After weeks of planning, recording and testing, we’re proud to launch Navigator’s first podcast, Political Traction. We created Political Traction to assess how much traction political leaders, pundits, and media get with the people they’re trying to reach: people like you. Every week, we look at the top political issues being discussed in Ottawa and assess how much they resonated with Canadians across the country. Our first three episodes are now live on our new website,, on Soundcloud, or on iTunes.

If the name “Political Traction” sounds familiar to you, well, that’s because it’s not entirely new. Fans of CBC’s Power and Politics may remember a segment that Navigator’s Jaime Watt used to host every week from 2011-2014. Let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

Political Traction ran for four seasons, and now, we’re expanding on this original concept by taking our first foray into podcasting. With podcasting, we saw an opportunity to take the original made-for-TV concept and dive deeper. Every week, our own Allie McHugh and David Woolley run through the top three issues making news in Ottawa and on Parliament Hill. We analyze how much traction Ottawa got with the Canadian public. Then, to tell us what this all means, and analyze how in (or out) of sync Ottawa is with Canadians, Allie speaks with one of our public affairs experts.

In our inaugural episode, Allie explains how the podcast got started and talks with Jaime about the original idea for Political Traction and why it matters.

To conduct this weekly analysis, we refined our methodology, which is explained in great detail in our second episode, complete with tables and charts for the data head in all of us.

And finally, to round out the package, we have our first weekly episode available for download. This week, Allie and David breakdown the top issues in Ottawa: the national deficit, Canada’s mission to fight ISIS, and the perception of the Liberal party’s strategy. After discussing whether these issues got any traction, Allie interviews Will Stewart, Managing Principal at Navigator and founding Principal of Ensight, to explain why or why not these issues are resonating with Canadians across the country.

We’re excited to share this project with you. You can look forward to a new episode in your podcast player of choice, every Monday. Every now and then we’ll mix it up with special episodes and documentaries. Don’t miss out! Subscribe today on iTunes, or at


Maclean’s Quotes Ensight Post-Election Research

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In a recent Maclean’s article titled The Throne Speech and the ambitious politics of Justin Trudeau, Parliamentary reporter Aaron Wherry quotes Ensight’s Post-Election Research report to support his point about expectations of Trudeau.

An excerpt from the article:

The degree to which expectations might doom him is hard now to figure. “Canadians do not expect that Trudeau can implement all that he promised over the course of the campaign, nor do they necessarily think he should try,” Ensight reported from its exit polling. “But voters’ low expectations do not mean they lack confidence in the Liberals or feel that Trudeau lacks political will.” And so it is both the willingness of voters and Trudeau’s team which will now be tested.

To read the full article in Maclean’s, click here. To download the full report for Ensight Post-Election Research, click the image below.

ENS-postelectionbanner-v2 post-election-home

Ensight expands with exciting new additions to its team as Liberal government begins new mandate

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OTTAWA, Nov. 10, 2015 – Ensight is expanding its public affairs team with four new members as the new government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prepares for the start of Canada’s 42nd parliament.

The new team members will bring additional insight and new capabilities to a team with an exceptional track record of success in helping clients achieve their public policy goals over the the past 10 years, according to Ensight Principals Jaime Watt and Barbara Fox.

Greg MacNeil will join Ensight as Vice President. Greg has served as Senior Consultant and Research Lead at Navigator in Toronto for the last four years and recently worked in Liberal headquarters of the successful election campaign. Greg will relocate to Ottawa.

Joining Ensight from Enterprise as Vice President is Lindsay Maskell. Toronto-based, Lindsay has worked with clients at Enterprise since 2013, following a decade of progressively more senior political roles at Queen’s Park including in the office of the Premier.

New to Ensight as Vice President is Andrew Balfour. Based in Ottawa, Andrew’s past work on Liberal campaigns and considerable network in Ottawa will allow him to bring a results-focussed approach to our clients’ files.

Further, Navigator’s Don Newman, an award-winning broadcaster of over five decades, assumes the role of Senior Counsel at Ensight. Ottawa-based, Don provides valuable insight for clients into the relationship between media and politics on the national stage.

Additionally, Lindsey Scully moves into the role of Vice President and General Manager. Lindsey is a skilled communications and policy professional with over a decade of service in Ottawa, including over four years with the Ensight team.


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By: Colin MacDonald

The sweeping change that Canadians ushered in Monday, October 19th began a process that official Ottawa has prepared for on four previous occasions over the last decade but has only been required to initiate twice – the transition from one government, and one prime minister, to another.

As Prime Minister Stephen Harper prepares to cede the reins of government to Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau, many have remarked on one of the truly remarkable elements of democratic government – the peaceful and professional transitioning of power from one party to another. It is possible to overstate this of course. It happens all around the world all the time, in countries wealthier and more complex than Canada. While true, this does nothing to diminish the remarkable nature of such transitions, nor does it simplify the task at hand for those involved.

Transitioning from one government to another is an all-encompassing endeavour. There is much to consider – from the major to the mundane. Some set their minds to the policy agenda; others to the make-up of cabinet and caucus; for some it’s an outline of the incoming prime minister’s schedule; while for others, it’s staffing up, divvying office space or arranging for movers to and from 24 Sussex (and for the first time Rideau Cottage). Each of these elements, some seemingly of greater import than others, must be attended to in an organized and timely manner.

To help guide the way through all of this, Mr. Trudeau has appointed highly regarded former public servant Peter Harder as the head of his transition team. The transition team is the engine of this process. Composed of governance, political and academic advisors, this team will work with the outgoing administration, senior public servants and the incoming prime minister’s office (PMO) to ensure a seamless changeover. On the governance side, much of the preparatory work will have already been undertaken by the public service. Policy binders will have been prepared, urgent files – e.g. consideration of the Trans Pacific Partnership and engagement against ISIS – will have been flagged and the impact of campaign promises – e.g. Canada Child Benefit, income tax changes – on existing government policy and finances analyzed.

There will also be early political demands on the time and attention of the prime minister-designate. A lot of resources and personal political capital were expended to help Mr. Trudeau achieve his majority government breakthrough. While there will be time to fully acknowledge these efforts over the course of the four year mandate, attention will have to be given to how some are singled out during this initial honeymoon period (see yesterday’s visit with Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queen’s Park). Decisions on the hundreds of staff needed for cabinet ministers and backbench members will also be coloured by this political calculus. The balancing act of rewarding campaign staff and volunteers, reaching back into the ranks of past loyal soldiers, bringing in talented fresh faces and rewarding dedicated community activists is difficult task in its own right.

In the short-term, the public goal of this transition period is to continue to differentiate the incoming Trudeau government from that of the departing Mr. Harper. For this reason it will be symbolic, but important, changes that Canadians are most likely to notice in the coming weeks. Changes in tone and approach, including simple acts like giving media availabilities in the National Press Theatre or allowing cabinet ministers a degree of public autonomy will signal an openness lacking over the last 10 years. Both examples are public proxies for the transparency in governing that Mr. Trudeau has pledged to advance as prime minister. While most Canadians will never submit an Access to Information request only to have the much delayed response come back largely redacted, many will have occasion to see their prime minister interacting with the media on a more frequent and cordial basis or the minister for whom they are a stakeholder speaking without the arm of the PMO noticeably sticking up his or her back.

November 4th marks the first official day of the new majority Liberal government. Canadians will spend much time over the four years that follow evaluating, criticizing or praising its performance. What happens between now and November 4th will go a long way to putting the government on the right foot to take on this challenge.

Colin MacDonald is a Director with Ensight and a Senior Consultant with Navigator Ltd. He has served as an advisor to several Ontario cabinet ministers in the McGuinty and Wynne governments and is a frequent commentator on CTV News Channel. 


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By: Kalvin Reid

Expect more than a few people to be wandering around Parliament Hill in the coming weeks with maps in hand, feeling their way around the place.

Two-thirds of the MPs who will be sworn in to form Canada’s new government were not on Parliament Hill for the last term of government. Some of those had been MPs before and returning to Ottawa after an absence, but nearly 200 of the incoming MPs are political neophytes.

It will mean a crash course in governance for Canada’s new parliamentarians, and a need for Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau to quickly assess his bench strength, as the bulk of the new members reside in his caucus.

When defeated Prime Minister Stephen Harper requested the Governor General dissolve Parliament and to kick off this election back in August, the Liberals were but a rump of 36 seats. They awoke on October 20 with 184 members. When you consider that six Liberals did not seek re-election, that puts 154 new faces in the benches surrounding Trudeau. Granted, not all of them are true rookies. Many have municipal experience, others were provincial legislators and some — like Don Valley West MP-elect Rob Oliphant — have been MPs before.

But that is still a lot of new blood in Ottawa, and no doubt some of it will wind up with a spot in cabinet.

Given the addition of 30 new ridings in Canada — pushing the total number MP seats in Canada to 338 — 57 MPs who were not seeking re-election and four vacancies, it was a given that there would be a healthy number of new faces around Parliament Hill.

The historic Liberal sweep, which included the defeat of 106 incumbents, ensured the number would be significant.

Of note, a record 10 First Nations Members of Parliament will take seats in the House of Commons, eight of which are rookies. One of the newcomers is a member of the NDP caucus and seven of the eight Aboriginals who will be sitting among the Liberal benches are new to federal politics, including Robert-Falcon Ouellette, who took 56 per cent of the vote to unseat long-time NDP MP Pat Martin in Winnipeg Centre.

Other notable newcomers in the House of Commons include:

  • Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair won the riding of Scarborough Southwest for the Liberals, defeating incumbent NDP Dan Harris.
  • One police chief in, one out. Conservative Julian Fantino was defeated in Vaughan-Woodbridge by political neophyte Franceso Sorbara, a Liberal.
  • Liberal Marco Mendicino was a giant killer in Eglinton-Lawrence, taking down Finance Minister Joe Oliver.
  • -Gen. Andrew Leslie was victorious in Orleans for the Liberals, beating Tory Royal Galipeau.
  • Broadcaster Seamus O’Regan took down the NDP’s Ryan Cleary in the Newfoundland riding of St. John’s South-Mount Pearl.
  • Calgary Centre MP-elect Kent Hehr is a former Liberal MLA who made the jump to federal politics and wrested the riding from Tory Joan Crockatt. He is one of two Liberal MPs in Calgary, the first in the city since Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the father of Canadan’s incoming Prime Minister, won the 1968 election.
  • Former Ontario Liberal MPP Peter Fonseca won Mississauga East-Cooksville from Conservative Wladyslaw Lizon
  • A cabinet minister in the Chretien and Martin governments, Denis Paradis, is returning to Ottawa in the riding of Brome-Missisqoui, previously held by NDP Pierre Jacob.
  • Mount Royal was the riding of Trudeau the elder. It was won by Liberal Anthony Housefather, who is replacing retiring Liberal Irwin Cotler.
  • In Ajax, former Liberal MP Mark Holland got revenge on Tory cabinet minister Chris Alexander, taking back the seat he lost in 2011.
  • Liberal rookies were instrumental in turning Toronto Liberal red. Key among them were Arif Virani, who took down NDP stalwart Peggy Nash in Parkdale-High Park, and Julie Dzerowicz who defeated NDP Andrew Cash in Davenport, a riding that had been in Liberal hands for 16 elections before Cash won in 2011.

Despite the massive turnover of talent in the House of Commons, there is enough experience remaining to shepherd the newbies along. While there will no doubt be some rookie mistakes made in the short-term, the chances of these being catastrophic are microscopically small — although they may provide some entertaining chatter around the water cooler.

Kalvin Reid is a Senior Consultant with Enterprise Canada and a former award-winning journalist who provides clients with advice on media relations and public affairs.