Category Archives: Blog

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

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 (,@JeffBlay) and Adam Schwartz, Associate Consultant, Navigator (

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. 

Election Anniversary: Justin Trudeau’s Three Gears on Trade

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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 Director and Trade Practice Lead, Adam Taylor looks at the various layers of the Liberal government’s approach to trade policy and free-trade deals, specifically TPP, CETA, and expectations around a deal with China. 

By: Adam Taylor 

During the federal election campaign of last year, international trade was thrust into the spotlight (sort of) when then-Prime Minister Harper announced that negotiations had concluded on the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership.  The Liberal Party walked a fine line neither supporting it like the Tories nor outright opposing like the New Democrats.  Now a year later, we can take a wider measure of how the new government will approach trade issues – especially as these issues are now literally front and centre in politics south of the border and across the Atlantic.

Neutral on TPP

While being careful not to oppose the TPP outright (as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have done), the Liberal position is more nuanced. They support deepening Canada’s trade footprint in Asia, they agree broadly with the negotiated outcomes but aren’t yet ready to sell the deal. Canada’s Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said explicitly this isn’t her job. Against the backdrop of vehement opposition to TPP playing out in presidential politics, it’s a sound strategic holding pattern.  After all, why sell Harper’s deal and be stuck with it (good and bad) if it’s going to fail in the U.S. and end up going nowhere anyway?  A wait-and-see approach is a pretty safe bet these days, especially until we know who will occupy the White House.

Second gear on trade with China

While the Trudeau Liberals inherited the CETA and TPP deals from the previous government, a reboot of the Canada-China relationship is very much in Justin Trudeau’s wheelhouse.  The previous government was criticized for its scattered positions on China. Like the jerky driver whose foot is constantly shifting from the gas to the brake, the result is and was the farthest thing from a smooth ride. Yet under PM Justin Trudeau, a steady, smooth way forward appears to be the objective and so far so good.  Official engagement at the highest levels is happening regularly, exploratory talks toward a full blown free trade agreement have been launched and there’s clearly positive momentum in the wider relationship for the first time in many years.  While the relationship won’t go to fifth gear anytime soon – there are far too many legitimate barriers for that – a stable march forward is a good thing for Canadian businesses looking to deepen  their footprint in what will soon be the world’s largest economy. 

Fifth gear forward on CETA

Under Justin Trudeau’s leadership, Canada is full steam ahead in trying to get the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) signed and brought into force. Trade Minister Freeland is literally working around the clock to bring reluctant EU countries like Belgium onside so that leaders can officially sign the documents that will bring the agreement one step closer to becoming the law of the land. Put simply, the Trudeau government is doing all it can to save CETA.  They’ve renegotiated controversial chapters (investor dispute provisions); they’ve signed new accompanying declarations affirming its “progressive” nature; and they’ve appointed a new CETA Emissary (former trade minister Pierre Pettigrew) to literally work the rooms in Brussels and beyond. In less than a week we’ll know where this historic agreement stands against the forces of protectionism which have now officially landed on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Ensight Post-Election Research Update: A Look Back, One Year In

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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.

Previously, Ensight Senior Counsel and lifetime member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery Don Newman looked back upon the path Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has blazed for his party and surveys the road ahead. Click here to read that article.


By Will Stewart

One year ago as Canadians were busy making their way to the polls, Ensight’s research team was preparing to head out on the road to conduct Canada’s Only Genuine Exit Poll.

After tracking the evolution of issues over the course of the election campaign, Ensight’s research team conducted qualitative research through 10 focus group sessions in Vancouver, Calgary, Quebec City, Halifax, and Toronto. Those sessions were augmented by online focus groups of young Canadians aged 18 to 29 years.

Once the votes had been counted, we sought out the reasons behind why Canadians voted for change in the form of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party, what they expected from their new government, and how those choices and expectations would drive the future of governance and political life in Canada.

We found plenty of answers. Here is how they look one year later.

1)     We said that it would be “Back to the Future” which is exactly what we have seen.  Almost every announcement, internationally and domestically, has focused on how Canada is back to being an international leader, a collaborator, a peacekeeper.  The government seems more guided by “We are not Harper” than anything else.  The “Canadian Way” of consultation and leading from the middle is evident in every department.

2)     Not a defeat of the Conservative Party, but a defeat of Harper.  We have now seen that we were correct in that finding as well.  Most of Harper’s top names are gone and forgotten, most recently with the resignation of Jason Kenney to return home to Alberta.  While the Liberals are riding high in the polls, the Conservatives are still strong, despite not having a permanent leader which shows that the party’s support is still there. Contrast that with the NDP, who in the eyes of the public are boarding on irrelevant.

3)     A New Collaborative Tone on the world stage.  We have seen this prediction come true in Paris on climate talks all the way to the UN meetings and the commentary from Trudeau of wanting a seat on the Security Council.  Arms deals to the Middle East conflict zones do dog the government, but the defence strategy of peacekeeping “somewhere” is evidence that they continue to assert their brand of Canada in their own way.

4)     Election of the government on values and vision, not polices.  This has become very true.  We predicted that voters would not rebel against the government for changing their policies as long as they were true to this new vision of Canada.  The Liberals have moved away from their platform promises – from the size of the deficits (promised $10B a year, brought in $30B a year), environmental targets (from Harper’s being “dangerous” to adopting Harper’s target) but yet the government is still enjoying unprecedented support in public opinion polls.

5)     Canadians preferred a “go-slow” approach which is exactly what we have seen. Now one year into his mandate, Trudeau has yet to deliver on many of his promises, opting instead to launch consultation processes for most of them. As the results of those consultations start to come it, Trudeau will face new challenges on plotting and taking a course which will not always be popular with those who invested in the discussions when they do not see their work and recommendations reflected.

6)     More open government. This one is harder to declare victory on. On one hand, the government has taken more lobbyist meetings, given more time for consultations, and is projecting an open government mindset. However, the Trudeau Liberals have also begun to resort to time allocation or closure motions to limit debate in the House of Commons, have seen the Statistics Canada chief resign over political interference, have publicly declared no referendum for electoral system changes, and have an even more centralized staffing model than even Harper ever achieved.

7)     Canadians willing to accept modest deficits if there is a plan to get out of them. We don’t have enough data on this yet. When Trudeau announced his bigger than promised deficit, many were still in their honeymoon period with him; and many still are today. The fall economic update may shed some light on the financial situation which will not likely impact public opinion polls until closer to Christmas.

8)     Environmental issues are important. We found that voters felt that climate change was ignored by Harper and they wanted the new government to do something about it. Now the government has officially adopted the Harper policies on GHG reduction.  While it has not hurt them in the polls yet, we believe that environmental policies will be an issue for Trudeau, but he has more positive brand attributes on this file than Harper so he may be able to place it on the backburner without an impact on votes.

9)     Pipelines, indigenous peoples, TPP – On all these issues we predicted that Trudeau would have to do something.  And we still believe it.  But not much of substance has taken place yet.  The question that is not answered is will voters begin to voice their concerns on these issues or does Trudeau get a pass.

Will Stewart is an Ensight Principal. He has had extensive campaign experience in leadership roles and frequently appears on TV, radio, and invited to speak about campaign strategy and the role of social media in modern campaigns.

Political Perspectives – Justin Trudeau as a Phenomenon

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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.

Ensight Principal Will Stewart also provides an update on Ensight’s post-election research, and digs in on how the one-year old government has delivered on its brand promise and outlines the future outlook. Read that article here.

By Don Newman

A year after bringing his Liberal party back from the brink of despair and third place in the House of Commons to a comfortable majority government, Trudeau today is more popular than he was on October 19th, 2015, the night of his dramatic victory.

In Canada’s multi-party first-past-the-post electoral system, Trudeau’s Liberals captured 39.5 per cent of the vote a year ago. That gave the Liberals 184 seats in the 338 seat House of Commons.
Polls twelve months later give Trudeau and the party almost fifty per cent support. Translating that to seats in the House of Commons would give the Liberals over 200.
Trudeau has accomplished this with a stunning public relations operation, a natural flair for appearing in public, impressive discipline and a photogenic shine he shares with his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and their young family.

The lack of an effective opposition as both the Conservatives and the New Democrats search for new leaders, has been an added plus. But the first year in office that featured among other notable events; a triumphant state dinner at the Obama White House in Washington, a fawning article complete with plenty of intimate colour photographs of Justin and Sophie in Vogue magazine and countless selfies with Canadians all across the country, has worked to build up the impressive political capital that has the Liberals ten points higher in the public opinion polls that their election night support a year ago.

Skeptics say Trudeau hasn’t made any big mistakes because he hasn’t done anything big. That is only partly true. They have done big things they promised they would do, like settling 25,000 Syrian refugees, changing the tax code so high earners pay more and middle income taxpayers pay less, and launching a promised inquiry into missing aboriginal girls and women.
But it is true that in their first year, the Liberals didn’t do anything hard — which in political terms means anything that could prove unpopular with at least some segments of the electorate. As the year rolled on it became clear to close watchers of the passing show that the “Sunny Ways” promised by Trudeau could not continue indefinitely. That going forward, the success of the government was going to be determined by how it handled the three Es; Energy, the Economy and the Environment.

As the government correctly sees them, the three are intertwined. Canada’s slow growth economy can only grow more quickly if the abundant oil sands resources are exploited and brought to market. That will results in more jobs, more prosperity and more tax revenues to balance government books and finance health care, education and a myriad of other programs.
But those oil sands resources can only be exploited and brought to market if there are new pipelines to carry the bitumen from Alberta to either the Pacific coast in British Columbia or the Atlantic coast in New Brunswick. Environmentalists, both in and outside of Canada, have vowed to shut down the oil sands by opposing any new pipelines and starving them of markets, and by extension, the government of resources.

Trudeau and his Ministers have said that new pipelines can only proceed if they have the “social licence” to be built. That means if the public is convinced that they are safe and as environmentally friendly as they can be. Moreover, the government and Canadians must be seen to be actively working to combat and reduce Green House gas emissions.
This month we saw how the government plans to square that circle. At the end of September it announced it was approving a pipeline. Not an oil sands pipeline from Alberta, but a natural gas pipeline from within British Columbia to the Pacific Coast. The approval comes with more than one hundred conditions that have to be met, but it is a pipeline approval none the less. And almost immediately it was attacked by some environmental and indigenous groups.

Then, one week later, the Prime Minister announced Ottawa is putting a price on carbon — a carbon tax if you will. Trudeau didn’t call it that and he left it up to each province to decide if it wants a straight tax, or a cap and trade system of limiting emissions. But he said if any province doesn’t act, Ottawa will act for it. By 2022 Canadians everywhere will be paying $50 a ton for carbon emissions.

But by then work should be underway on the pipeline carrying natural gas to be liquified at a plant near Prince George on the B.C. Coast. And so should work on another pipeline.
Before Christmas the federal cabinet is expected to approve the twinning of the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline carrying oil sands bitumen from Alberta to Vancouver. The new pipeline, which will increase the flow of oil to the west coast by three fold, is opposed by Vancouver’s mayor and other near-by municipalities, by some indigenous groups, but supported by others.

It will be even more controversial than the natural gas line. But the Trudeau government is going to have to find the balance between the E of Environment, and the E of Energy if it hopes to grow the E of the Economy sufficiently to support its ambitious plans.

After a year of Sunny Ways the real task of governing has begun. It will be interesting.

Don Newman is senior counsel at Ensight and a lifetime member of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery.

Political Perspectives – A President’s Executive Decision In The Woods

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By Jesse Robichaud

A few days before police officers in bulletproof vests dragged pipeline protestors out of a the very first National Energy Board consultations on Energy East in a Montreal conference room, a relatively more civil conversation was taking place at a rural gas station cash register in the State of Maine.

“Those aren’t real jobs,” a disgusted customer told the cashier. “Selling firewood or standing behind a counter selling maps isn’t a real job.”

What the man did not need to say, in this part of the country, is that “real jobs” are in the forest sector, in manufacturing, in trucking and working for the suppliers and vendors who form the links of traditional supply chains.

The cashier, who happened to be standing behind a counter, agreed forcefully.

The pair were discussing President Obama’s controversial decision to short circuit many years of contentious debate over the establishment of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. It’s essentially a national park, but Obama couldn’t call it one without the consent of Congress, which he did not have. He did have the land, donated by the family of Burt’s Bees tycoon Roxanne Quimby, and used his executive powers to proclaim it a national monument.

The backlash the proclamation has generated from pro-development voices in the region proves the “not in my backyard” attitudes and values that have paralyzed pipeline projects in British Columbia, gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, and natural gas development in New Brunswick are not monopolized by environmental activists or those who simply oppose development.

Katahdin is famously immortalized in the works of Thoreau and famous as the Appalachian Trail’s spectacular granite finish line, which breaches the clouds at 5,267 feet of altitude on Baxter Peak. No one on either side of the years-long divisive debate would argue about the region’s natural splendors and pursuits. Where the friction arises is in the ways these treasured lands can or can’t be used within the national monument’s 87,500 acre boundaries. In Millinocket, the town closest to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, a genuine, uniformed National Parks Service ranger handing out free maps to the new monument immediately rattled off carefully refined talking points about how hunting, fishing, snowmobiles, and all-terrain vehicles would be allowed.

But opponents say the park is a “job killer” that will place the final nails in the region’s embattled forestry industry. Supporters counter by pointing to the potential of hundreds of jobs in tourism, recreation, real estate and other soft benefits. Of course, it is hard to say either side is totally wrong or totally right, and therein lies one of the major challenges facing governments who are left to build public policy amid a fractured landscape of opinion and confrontation that can be enhanced by news media and entrenched interests.

On my own roadtrip to hike Mount Katahdin in the nearby Baxter State Park late last-month, I overheard comments on both sides of the issue. “That’s big business talking, that’s all that is” I heard one man say at a supermarket in Millinocket regarding the philanthropic gift from the Quimby family, which was accompanied by a pledge of $40 million to support the monument’s creation. A park supporter swore the loud opposition is only a vocal minority, and that most people in the region support the move. Maine’s controversial and Trump-supporting Republican governor Paul LePage says the decision was the result of Obama and other Liberal elites overriding the will of the people of his state.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument does more than just demonstrate the sliding scale on which political values can diverge on each side of the Canada-U.S. border. It also highlights the growing tensions between the perspectives of urban and rural residents, the power struggle between federal governments and sub-national governments, as well as the difficulty in developing and measuring social license for natural resource development and major projects.

Consultation has become one of the preeminent political buzz words of our time, and for good reason it has become perhaps the chief challenge for those attempting to fulfill expectations of open, responsive government. President Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both attained power by appealing to the sunny side of the electorate and promising to unite rather than divide.

But on an issue such as the Katahdin Woods and Waters, Obama learned there is a limit to public consultation, particularly when views are so diametrically opposed that one side is not going to like the decision. For him, that limit was the two-term limit on his own presidency. With his time running out, Obama cut through the debate. He made the executive decision.

In Ottawa and in provincial capitals across the country, elected officials and political staff are drawing up consultation schemes and communications strategies around a constellation of hot-button issues related to pipelines, natural resource development, the rights of Indigenous peoples and local landowners, environmental protection and climate policies.

There are more than just two sides at odds in these ongoing debates, and so far Trudeau has deftly catered to most of them. After all, he won big last October as his Conservative and NDP opponents failed to seize on pipeline-related issues in any way that ultimately mattered.

However, Trudeau’s skillful communications tact will, at some point, have to give way to a firm decision. In fact, expectations on most sides of these issues continue to rise, not fall, as regulators continue their work and consultations are deployed. In matters of such high stakes and national importance, there will invariably be winners and losers. The question now is – how long it will take for us to find out who will end up on which side of the Prime Minister’s own executive decision.

Jesse Robichaud is a Consultant at Ensight. He served as an advisor to the Premier of New Brunswick, and worked as political correspondent.

Social Media Watch – Summer’s Almost Gone… How Federal Parties Are Transitioning on Social

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By: Jeff Blay and Adam Schwartz

Shirtless selfies, surfing trips, pride parades and concert-going have dominated social media during the first summer of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government’s leadership. But as the season comes to and end and the House of Commons resumes on Sept. 19, the focus will quickly shift to agenda pushing, debating and policy moving.

While there are still signs of the feel-good, constituency-focused themes of summer across all three federal parties, we’re beginning to see a transition into the more politically-charged issues that will soon rule Ottawa.

With Labour Day passed and only 10 days until the House sits, we decided to take a look at what content each party is focusing on and which party is performing best on social.

The Liberals 

As they did at this time last year leading up to the federal election, the Liberals are once again leading in social activity and engagement. Through the first week of September, the Liberal Party generated 13 million potential impressions on Twitter, with the majority of activity focused on retweeting positive announcements and messages from MPs as they prepare to return to Ottawa. Key issues being pushed on social by Trudeau and the Liberals include the PM’s visit to China, investing in youth and the teacher tax credit.

The Conservatives

The Conservatives, on the other hand, continue to use their official party account far less than the Liberals or NDP and have the lowest potential impressions at 1.7 million. Over the past week, they’ve been openly critical of Trudeau on multiple occasions, which has resulted in negative engagement and backlash from Liberal and NDP supporters. Adding to the Conservative’s lack of positive engagement is the social media firestorm created by leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, who has been met with significant criticism — including from Conservative MP Michelle Rempel —after announcing her immigrant screening proposal. 


The NDP have quietly been using social media successfully, leading all parties in total tweets sent from the official party account and generating a total of 18 million potential impressions — more than the Liberals, but likely a result of sending out nearly two-times the amount of tweets. Content has been focused on amplifying positive messages from NDP MPs and retweeting high-profile articles that align with party positions, with organic content focused largely on private health care.

On average, the Liberals have consistently outperformed opposing parties on social media dating back to the October 2015 election. But can they maintain the positive exposure as Trudeau approaches the one-year mark of his leadership? We’ll have the answers in future editions of Social Media Watch.

– Jeff Blay, Communications and Digital Coordinator,  Enterprise (,@JeffBlay) and Adam Schwartz, Associate Consultant, Navigator (

Political Perspectives – Perfect Timing For Liberal Summer Caucus Retreat

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By Greg MacNeil, Vice President

Moments ago, the Prime Minister wrapped up his post-caucus retreat media availability. This is the first time the caucus has gathered together since June. Unlike the recent Cabinet retreat in Sudbury, Liberal members did not have to share rooms with each other.

The timing of this year’s Liberal summer caucus retreat could not have been better for the government. After more than a week of news articles about inappropriate expenses submitted by Cabinet Ministers, the government used the retreat as an opportunity to reset and focus on core mandate promises like addressing climate change and encouraging economic growth.

While policy discussions were the primary focus of the retreat, there were lengthy discussions about operations. Specifically, how offices are handling expenses in order to avoid future distractions. Due to a change implemented at Treasury Board, Access to Information (ATIP) requests are being processed faster. Given this new reality, more stories about inappropriate expenses are bound to happen unless there is a cultural change in each office. More political oversight of expenses is being instituted in order to avoid future mistakes.

Caucus members were also told about some of the staff changes made in ministers offices. Specifically, many of the changes that occurred were done in an attempt to increase communications capacity in offices that are expected to receive more public attention over the coming months.

Over the next month, the government is expected to focus more on international relations. This morning the government pledged up to 600 soldiers and up to an additional $450 million in funding. The Minister of Defence will be going to London in two weeks to discuss with partner nations where these commitments are needed.

Next week, the Prime Minister and Minister Dion, will be heading to China to discuss ways in which the two nations can strengthen their relationship. Following these bilateral discussions, the PM will attend the G20 summit in Beijing. Lead ministers at the G20 summit will be Minister Morneau and Minister Freeland. The government is widely rumoured to be pursuing a free trade agreement with China. Minister Freeland is expected to raise a number of current trade irritants with the Chinese government. One of the more high-profile non-tariff trade barriers expected to be discussed is the recent restrictions on Canadian canola. Keeping in the spirit of Sunny Ways, the Minister is planning to give Chinese Government a jar of Canadian Canola Oil.