Faye Roberts, Principal of Scout Communications Inc
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Governor General Mary Simon this past Sunday, the 2021 Federal Election is officially underway. Political types and the news media like to talk about the ‘dropping of the writ’. That is short form for what happens when the Prime Minister requests the Governor General dissolve the current Parliament, then proclaim the ‘writs of election’ be issued, formally kicking off the election period leading up to the vote on September 20th. The ‘dropping of the writ’ is the equivalent of the starting gun firing at the beginning of a race. It signals that parties, candidates and leaders are in full election mode, activating their plans to win your vote.
Despite the buzz around the dropping of the writ and the kick-off of the formal campaign period, the news may not have put everyone on high alert. We’ve been living through many months of a daily onslaught of news about Covid and other topics so we might be excused from fully registering the import of the kick-off of the election.
Do not be complacent. Campaign periods are perilously short. The consequences of our collective decision-making about who will be the best choice to form the next government will be felt for years. Now is the time to tune in – even for those who may have been minimizing news consumption recently.
Why do you care?
Elections are the ‘ground zero’ in setting out where governments will invest time and resources (taxpayer dollars!) in the years after the election. Above and beyond our civic duty to cast votes as informed citizens, election results also affect our professional lives, regardless of the sector or function where we make our living. Large established businesses – especially those that are highly regulated – pay attention to the world of politics and invest resources in navigating government. And although small and mid-sized organizations sometimes have the impression they don’t need to understand politics or how government works, that short-sighted view may close doors, resulting in costly, missed opportunities.
If your business relies on: talent locally or from other countries; a supply chain that extends beyond our borders…the last 18 months has shown how international supply chains are; road access, train shipments, or airspace to move people and/or goods – that’s government. If your business wants to: sell to government or government bodies; access funding; reach foreign markets – that’s government.
No matter the size, scale or type of organization or business you work in, tune in to the election. The Federal Government is an important influencer on your business.
And despite the brevity of campaign periods, a lot can happen in the few short weeks formed over 36 days. We don’t want to miss anything. And while every election campaign has its own complexion and priorities, one thing we can say for certain is that Election 2021 promises to be like no other.
From its very beginning with the dissolution of Parliament by our first Indigenous Governor General, this election is already unique. And as we navigate campaigning and voting during a pandemic, we need to be ready for more adjustments and new developments.
For example, Canadians are expected to request mail-in ballots in record numbers rather than voting in-person due to Covid exposure. Early commentary suggests if Canadians opt for mail-in ballots in sufficient numbers, it may be impossible to confirm the final results the same night the polls close, which is our traditional expectation. Political nerds like me will miss gathering with friends to watch the election returns on election night but such a gathering might not have been possible anyway in light of changing pandemic conditions.
Here’s what’s already happened. Two parties have released their full platform documents, ie. the summary of what they promise to do if elected to form the government. The Conservative Party issued their 150-plus page platform document on Day 1 of the formal campaign. The New Democratic Party issued their platform last week. Typically, parties would release the platform in sections throughout the campaign as a strategy to consistently draw news attention. Observers are wondering if the parties are releasing their platforms early and in full because Canadians voting by mail don’t have to wait until election day to make their decisions and send in their ballot.
What else will change and shift in Election 2021? A LOT. And we won’t be able to predict it all just like we can’t predict the election’s outcomes. But the best medicine is information. If you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to tune in to the coverage, peruse the party platforms and policies and think about what kind of a Canada we want for the next four years.
With extensive experience managing policy issues and successfully advocating for government policy changes, Scout Communications helps you harness the power of communication to achieve your objectives. Let’s have a conversation on how Scout Communications can drive outcomes.
Fun Fact: You can show off your electoral knowledge by correcting anyone who talks about ‘dropping the writ’! People in the know will tell you that’s incorrect phrasing. The proper phrase is “drawing up the writs of election” – reflecting the fact that there’s technically one writ issued for every riding in Canada. The former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable David Onley has in the past taken to Twitter to correct the record saying that through three Ontario elections, he never once dropped a writ but always had writs drawn up!