Written by Danielle Dalzell on October 29 for our series Earnscliffe BC Election Insights.
John Horgan and the BC NDP won a majority government in a historic election. Over the next few weeks, as we look to a final vote count and await the swearing in of a new cabinet, BC businesses should take the opportunity to think about strategic plans for now, and into the future.
Here are some tips for BC Businesses to keep top of mind for the next four months and four years of a BC NDP majority government.
Carefully understand the government’s priorities
This must be a first step in your organization’s public affairs planning. Premier Horgan made several ambitious commitments on the campaign trail, offering line of sight into the areas on which he and his team will be focused on in the coming years. Given the external pressures, the government will be hard-pressed to add to its agenda – it will be focused on the agenda it has already set. So aligning with it will be critical.
Here are a few key government priorities:
- Economic recovery – continue building on StrongerBC, the province’s long-term economic recovery plan; promote the strengths of BC’s SMEs; introduce new opportunities for jobs and skills training; deliver local jobs and community benefits; and provide greater security and stability for BC workers.
- Healthcare – develop a future pandemic prevention plan; improve seniors care; invest in telehealth; focus on healthcare in rural communities; and develop a comprehensive health care human resources strategy.
- Climate action – pass legislation requiring BC to reach net-zero by 2050; invest in made-in-BC carbon capture technology; ramp up CleanBC’s industrial emissions strategy; develop a provincial coastal strategy; and spur more energy-efficiency upgrades for residential and commercial buildings.
- Infrastructure – introduce a $3-billion-annual infrastructure plan; work to expand electrification infrastructure; and make significant investments in high-speed connectivity across the province.
- Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples – move towards long-term agreements that provide self-determination for Indigenous peoples; introduce an Action Plan on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA); and form a new Secretariat to ensure government legislation and policies are consistent with the aforementioned Declaration.
Our advice: take the time to understand priority areas, issues, policies and the reasoning behind them. Identify points of alignment with your objectives and the BC NDP’s stated priorities and policy commitments.
Present innovative solutions to government’s challenges
As we embark on a multi-year post-COVID-19 economic recovery period, the provincial government will be faced with tremendous challenges, solutions for which transcend traditional partisan lines. They will need your help. They will need your expertise. A strong economic recovery depends on collaboration between all sectors of the province’s economy.
Premier Horgan has stated his openness to all good ideas as the province navigates through the pandemic and recovery. It is a good time to take him up on the offer.
Our advice: Think creatively about solutions to government’s inevitable problems. Present them with innovative ideas to achieve mutual goals. Approach this from a perspective that makes clear you understand the government’s priorities, and the reasoning behind them.
Leverage the new regional dynamics
The BC NDP are projected to secure seats in regions of the province previously not considered competitive for them, including in the south Fraser Valley, Boundary-Similkameen, and North Vancouver-Lonsdale. This regional representation will bring an interesting dynamic to the government caucus, as they will need to confront new issues in order to satisfy those who voted them into office in these newly-turned-NDP ridings.
The premier has also expressed his desire to reach out and work in areas of rural BC where the party was not as electoral successful as they had hoped, saying “If people need help, I don’t care how they vote, where they live, we’re going to do our level best to help them.”
Our advice: Understand how your organization fits with these regional dynamics. How can your objectives be presented in this context? Can you help government MLAs satisfy the local needs of their new constituents? Can you work with local and municipal representatives to reach out to government? Can you be talking about your business’ operations differently with this context in mind?
Relationship building with new faces
While relationship building should always be a key plank of any public affairs strategy, it is particularly important when there are so many fresh faces in the picture. Current projections have the BC NDP sending more than 15 new MLAs to Victoria. After the final count, it could be closer to 20 – over one-third of the government caucus. With a number of star MLAs-elect, and the team of experienced veterans from the last government, Premier Horgan’s cabinet formation exercise is bound to be challenging.
Our advice: Whether for fresh or returning MLAs, tailor your approach to each contact, based on their local constituencies, personal and professional backgrounds, and stated campaign priorities. Work to build trust. Take the time to get this right – your initial meetings can set the stage for the next 4 years.
For more insights and support, please don’t hesitate contact us. We’re here to help!