Category Archives: Blog

ENSIGHT APPOINTS GAYLA BROCK-WOODLAND AS PRESIDENT, LAUNCHING NEW VISION FOR FIRM’S NEXT DECADE

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Ensight today announced the appointment of Gayla Brock-Woodland as President to lead the firm into its second decade in Canada’s rapidly evolving public affairs and government relations environment.

Brock-Woodland comes to Ensight from MSLGROUP, a division of Publicis, where she led the agency’s operations in Canada since 2004 as Managing Director, and since 2013 as President. Prior to joining MSLGROUP, Gayla was Senior Vice President and Partner at Advance Planning & Communications.

“Gayla brings a new and added dimension to Ensight and a clear direction for our future, in which intelligent public engagement is integral to our clients’ success in the public policy arena,” Ensight principal Jaime Watt said.

In her 30-year career, Brock-Woodland has established a national reputation as a versatile and trusted advisor to C-suite executives and front-line leaders of major Canadian companies in sectors including energy, retail, professional services, consumer products, telecommunications, insurance, financial services, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and education.

“I started my career in Ottawa 30 years ago, and it’s a thrill to be back full circle. I’m privileged to be working with a team I’ve long admired, and eager to leverage my experience to create a bold vision for Ensight’s next decade and ensure their clients achieve their public policy goals,” Brock-Woodland said.

Ensight, a strategic partnership of Canada’s leading communications and public affairs firms – Enterprise and Navigator – has worked successfully on some of Canada’s largest public affairs files since it was founded in 2006. In addition to its government relations expertise, the firm has expanded service offerings to meet the needs of clients in today’s public affairs environment including:

  • A digital campaign practice that has demonstrated the power of combining data-driven communications and engagement to achieve public policy goals;
  • An Indigenous affairs practice, led by Sara Monture of Six Nations;
  • An infrastructure practice with a proven track record in working on some of Canada’s largest infrastructure projects; and
  • A research practice led by Chris Kelly, one of Canada’s foremost researchers.

“We are delighted to welcome Gayla to the Ensight team. She brings proven leadership abilities, a track record in reputation management and a unique ability to facilitate and build rewarding relationships between clients and decision-makers. We look forward to working with her as we move into Ensight’s second decade and the future of public affairs in Canada,” Barbara Fox, Ensight principal, said.

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.

Ensight Hosting U.S. Presidential Inauguration Conference Call

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With the advent of Brexit and a Trump government coming to power in the United States on January 20, the state of play in the global economy is rapidly changing.

Now more than ever, you need to know how these signal shifts in direction will impact Canada’s approach to trade and global affairs and how this will affect our economic outlook in the months and years to come.

Related:

The Art of Dealing with Donald Trump: John Delacourt

Canada’s Trade Future with the EU and UK: Adam Taylor

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

Ensight is hosting a special U.S. Presidential Inauguration Conference Call on Thursday, January 19 at 3:30 p.m. ET, that will provide you with a strategic understanding of what lies ahead. The call will feature leading insights from Don Newman, Deirdre McMurdy, Lindsay Finneran-Gingras, Will Stewart and John Delacourt.

We hope you will be available to join us. If you’re interested in listening in, please email cking@ensightcanada.com.

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.

Breaking Down The Liberal’s Federal Cabinet Shuffle – January 2017

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FEDERAL CABINET SHUFFLE 2017

With its first major cabinet shuffle today, the Trudeau government moved to reposition itself to face the new international implications of a Trump presidency as well as a re-tool during a year of major decisions on the home front.

The most significant move of the shuffle, which promotes former International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland to a new position as Canada’s foreign minister, is as much about rewarding her perceived strong performance as it is about limiting risk. President-elect Donald Trump reached the White House on a tide of populism, anti-elite and anti-intellectual sentiment, and the Trudeau government had an interest in removing Stéphane Dion – a career politician and academic – from a spotlight role managing Canada’s relationship with the Trump team.

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CHRYSTIA FREELAND – MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

A former journalist, Freeland has experience in front of television cameras and has demonstrated an ability to manage high pressure negotiations, notably in the role she played to salvage crumbling negotiations around Canada’s free trade pact with the European Union last year. She will be called upon to personally manage Canada’s most important diplomatic and trade relationship by dealing directly with members of Trump’s inner circle. Around the world, Freeland will also be charged with reinforcing Canada’s leadership position as a bastion of liberal values.  Freeland has performed well with her staff at International Trade, led by chief of staff Brian Clow, and she is expected to bring most of her personnel to her new portfolio.

FRANCOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE – MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Francois-Philippe Champagne, a rookie Quebec MP who had been serving as Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s Parliamentary Secretary, will replace Freeland as International Trade Minister. Champagne has extensive private sector experience and is considered an expert in international trade matters. During the budget rollout and pre-budget consultation processes he was lauded by caucus, the PMO and the Finance department for his ease in briefings, and his ability to deliver messaging to news media and stakeholders. He worked with Freeland to help sell the budget on the government’s behalf, and the pair showed a strong ability to work together, which they will be called to do in their new duties. His experience working on energy industry matters could prove instrumental in helping Canada forge more robust energy framework agreements with the United States.

STÉPHANE DION – POSSIBLE DIPLOMATIC POSTING

Ending a lengthy career in politics that began under former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Dion may take on a diplomatic role with the government. Possible positions include Canada’s ambassador to Germany or our ambassador to the European Union. Both posts will be critical in the post-Brexit era as Canada’s free trade deal with the EU is implemented; Dion may take some of his expertise in working within a multilateral context and apply it well in a new, critical role outside of caucus and Cabinet.

JOHN MCCALLUM – AMBASSADOR TO CHINA

Further bolstering the Trudeau government’s diplomatic roster is John McCallum’s move to the ambassadorship of China. McCallum, who managed Canada’s Syrian refugee efforts as Minister of Immigration, will be the point man for the government’s efforts to negotiate a free trade deal with the economic superpower. His work in China and Asia will allow Freeland to focus more squarely on matters in the United States and Europe. McCallum’s Toronto-area riding is home to significant Chinese-Canadian population, and he will use his background as RBC’s chief economist to advance the Trudeau government’s efforts of bolstering economic development through immigration strategies.

The departure of Dion and McCallum and from cabinet represents another generational and demographic shift toward younger, newer politicians and more diversity as a number of rookie ministers gain experience. Both Dion and McCallum were veteran ministers and were considered a stabilizing influence when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his original cabinet.

AHMED HUSSEN – MINISTER OF IMMIGRATION, REFUGEES AND CITIZENSHIP

A young immigration lawyer who came to Canada as a Somali refugee, Ahmed Hussen is a newcomer to cabinet who will help the Trudeau government build on its efforts of bolstering economic development through immigration. A former senior staff member in the Liberal Ontario government of Dalton McGuinty, Hussen was a colleague of the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Gerald Butts. He has a strong network within multicultural communities across the country through his past experience as the president of the Canadian Somali Congress. Hussen has a strong grasp of issues facing refugees, and he understands the challenges facing high-density, low-income communities in which the government is aiming to create economic progress.

KARINA GOULD – MINISTER OF DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS

Gould is emblematic of the Trudeau government’s continued generational shift as a 29-year-old minister. She has proven to be one of the strongest Parliamentary Secretaries for the government and a standout MP in her riding work. Her communications abilities will serve her well in a complex and controversial portfolio as the government stickhandles through the implementation of its electoral promises.

PATTY HAJDU – MINISTER OF LABOUR

Patty Hajdu moves from her position as Minister of the Status of Women, a role in which she performed well by most accounts, and takes on her new job as Minister of Labour. Hajdu is a social activist from the left wing of the Liberal party, which should prove beneficial in dealing with labour organizations.  Prior to joining politics, Hajdu was an effective advocate on homelessness issues, and in government she is noted for moving the Women’s Issues portfolio toward a position of advocacy and activism within cabinet.

MARYAM MONSEF – MINISTER OF THE STATUS OF WOMEN

Monsef has faced controversy as the government’s minister responsible for electoral reform, both for her management of the issue, an outburst in the House of Commons, and a complex scandal regarding her birth and background in Iran and Afghanistan. The move is considered a demotion, however Monsef inherits a portfolio that has been free of controversy and she can count on her solid skills in stakeholder relations honed over the course of her cross country consultations on democratic reform to improve her performance with this mandate.

Former Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuck has been shuffled out of cabinet, and there has been no information released on future roles beyond her role as a Winnipeg MP. She tweeted a brief message to say she had returned to Winnipeg, to wish Hajdu well in her new role, and said it was an honour to serve Canadians in the Trudeau government. 

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.

Contact:

Will Stewart
Principal
wstewart@navltd.com
416-642-6337

Ensight’s Tiffany Gooch joins Ontario Liberal Party Executive Council as Secretary

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Ensight consultant Tiffany Gooch has been acclaimed Secretary of the Ontario Liberal Party’s (OLP) Executive Council at this weekend’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Ottawa.

Gooch brings extensive experience working in the provincial government to her role as Secretary, having previously assumed increasingly integral roles in the OLP Office, Constituency and Queen’s Park MPP’s Offices, Minister’s Offices and the Office of the Premier. More recently, Gooch has been a key member of the government relations team at Ensight and Enterprise

She also previously served on the Executive of the Ontario Women’s Liberal Commission (federal and provincial), on the Board of Governors for the University of Windsor, and currently serves as the Chair of The Reading Partnership Steering Committee.

“I’m thrilled to be taking on this new role and I’m looking forward to working with the everyone the Executive Council team,” Gooch said from the OLP AGM in Ottawa. “It’s a big full-circle moment for me, having started my political career as staff at the Ontario Liberal Party office.”

Gooch officially begins her term as Secretary at the conclusion of the AGM on Nov. 19. The new role also puts her on the OLP Management Committee.

“There is a lot of work ahead and I will be working closely with the campaign team over the next few months as I transition into the role,” Gooch said. “The campaign leadership, caucus members, returning and incoming Executive Council board members have given me a really warm welcome.”

The Secretary position is one of 14 Executive Council positions and 26 Area Coordinator positions that were elected and acclaimed at the 2016 OLP AGM, which took place from Nov. 18-19 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa.

Election Anniversary: Social Media Watch – Looking Back at @JustinTrudeau’s First Year As Prime Minister

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One year ago, Canadians voted for Justin Trudeau and a Liberal majority government in the 42nd federal election.

Earlier this week, Ensight’s Will Stewart looked back at Ensight’s Post-Election Research and how the results compared with the Liberal’s first year in power. Today, we’re focusing on social media.

A month after the 2015 election, Ensight’s digital team looked at what people were saying and how Trudeau was performing on social media in a post-election edition of Social Media Watch.

At the time, we found the internet was abuzz with optimism for a new Prime Minister, and Trudeau’s use of social media, along with his “star quality”, as many described it, quickly attracted international attention. In one month as PM, Trudeau became the first Canadian politician to surpass one million followers on Twitter.

Since then, Trudeau has continued to gain momentum and dominate the social waves, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat.

Over the past year, there have been more than 3,000 unique tweets sent from Trudeau’s Twitter account, generating more than one million retweets and 140,000 replies. He’s gained more than 1.3 million followers on Twitter alone, bringing his total follower count to 2.13 million as of Oct. 21, 2016. Social sentiment has also remained fairly consistent, with the net sentiment between October 2015-16 sitting at 21 per cent positive, 62 per cent neutral and 17 per cent negative.

On multiple occasions, Trudeau has ‘broken the internet’ with viral photos and social posts and has often been a trending topic on Twitter. While yoga poses, shirtless selfies, surf sessions, boxing matches, baby pandas and Tragically Hip concerts may come to mind as highlights, the PM has also successfully used his growing influence on social media to drive his political agenda and, most notably, bring attention to important issues.

In Ensight’s Post-Election Research, voters told us they marked their ballots based on Trudeau’s articulation of vision and values rather than specific policies. By voting for ‘Real Change’, they were turfing a leader in Stephen Harper and style of government that they felt did not accurately reflect who we are as a nation and who we aspire to be as Canadians.

This conclusion is evident when we look at some of Trudeau’s top tweets over the past year, which include tweets about Bell Let’s Talk Day and mental health, Syrian Refugees, the Ramadan Attacks in Iraq and the Paris Attacks, and marching in Toronto’s Pride Parade.

His more playful, non-political posts may have garnered significant traction and driven conversations among social media users and the media since the election. But when it comes to his own social accounts, it’s the content that demonstrates the values people view as traditionally defining Canada and Canadian society, including civility, kindness and inclusion – as highlighted in Ensight’s Post-Election Research – that have performed best for Trudeau in his first year as Prime Minister.

– Jeff Blay, Communications and Digital Coordinator,  Enterprise (jblay@enterprisecanada.com,@JeffBlay) and Adam Schwartz, Associate Consultant, Navigator (aschwartz@navltd.com)

Election Anniversary: What’s Next For the Federal NDP?

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Editor’s Note: This week, Ensight is publishing a series of original content articles looking back on the Liberal government’s first year in power and ahead to the rest of its mandate.

Today, Ensight’s Sally Housser, a noted NDP strategist and media commentator, looks at the future of the party following the disappointment of last October.

By: Sally Housser

While the results of the 2015 federal election were crushing for a party that had held so much hope for forming government, chatter about the NDP’s demise is premature. It’s important to remember that the 44 seats the NDP now holds is a long way from the nadir of 9 seats it suffered in the 1993 general election. It is also worth mentioning that, while the road to government for the NDP is very,very long, it currently holds 8 more seats than the Liberals held going into the 2015 election.

The question that will have to be answered for the NDP is will the party continue on the project of forming government, a project that began in earnest with Jack Layton, or are members satisfied with being the “moral conscience” of the House of Commons and sliding back into its perpetual third (or fourth) party status?  While many members and staff who tasted victory in the 2011 election are determined that the 2015 results are merely a setback on the path to NDP governance, there are those within the party membership that believe a perceived move to the centre has caused the party to lose its ideology and moral compass.

The NDP’s federal convention, which took place in Edmonton in April of this year, showed a party with an identity crisis. The stunning defeat of Tom Mulcair in the leadership review, coupled with the deeply divisive introduction of the radically environmentalist “Leap Manifesto” has split the NDP along several lines. East vs. West, urban vs rural, labour vs. environment. One party member described the party as being divided as “Punk rockers vs. Hippies”. 

With Mr. Mulcair’s defeat comes a leadership race, a race yet to begin in earnest. While the contest has been slow to get going (so far there is no declared candidate) there are signs that potential successors are gearing up. Just this morning long time British Columbia Member of Parliament, Peter Julien resigned from his position as NDP House Leader, presumably with the intention of throwing his hat in the ring. The Saskatchewan NDP convention this weekend will be visited by the popular Northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus, Quebec MP Guy Caron as well as Julian. Jagmeet Singh, the Deputy Leader of the Ontario NDP has been popping up at various provincial NDP events in recent months and Niki Ashton, the Manitoba MP who ran unsuccessfully in the 2012 leadership race, has been criss-crossing the country talking to millennials about precarious employment.

Like all party leadership races, the coming months will be an opportunity for candidates to present their vision for a united party and chart their courses for the future. There will be those who will argue the way forward is actually a move back to the NDP’s more socialist roots, those that view a stronger environmental focus as the key to winning back voters, and those with a vision of continuing Jack Layton’s legacy of professionalization and modernization of the party. Ultimately the candidate who is able to convince the membership that pragmatic and progressive are not mutually exclusive terms will be the one who will be most likely to succeed.