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Mr. Martin’s Approach: A Primer for Business

By Hillwatch Inc.
November 2003

Structure of Government

The most significant structural change will be an enhanced role and influence for Parliament and Parliamentarians. Committee chairs will be elected by the committees themselves; there will be more free votes; more private members bills will see their way to legislation; MPs and committees will increasingly be the lead on important consultations; and committees will have larger budgets and will use new technology to engage the public. MPs will be expected to represent regional interests in a more aggressive fashion.

Implications for Business: MPs will have significant new influence over important decisions. Where free votes are allowed, there could be brokering between parties and between MP groups and individuals among parties. Increasing regional trade-offs will occur. Decision-making through committees could again involve trade-offs and brokering. More diffuse and differentiated power nodes by MPs within Parliament will mean that lobbyists have to pay increasing attention to MPs as important decision-makers and influencers.

Cabinet: There will be significantly fewer cabinet Ministers than the current 39 (including the PM). A few new super-Ministries will probably be created. Parliamentary Secretaries to Ministers will have more overt and delegated influence and power. There will be wholesale changing of the guard and a change of portfolios for Ministers that do change. The pre-election and post-election cabinet may be different. Star candidates elected in the 2004 election may appear in the post-election cabinet.

Role of Provinces and Municipalities: There will be enhanced structures to facilitate communication, dialogue and participation by provinces and municipalities in federal decision-making.

Departmental Reorganizations: In the short term, an enhanced security policy and possibly a super-ministry for domestic security will emerge. Functions from intelligence, policing, coast guard, customs and emergency preparedness will merge under the new security policy and structures. Some large and fragmented departments such as Industry Canada will be streamlined.

Implications for Business: There will be significant change creating uncertainties for some and opportunities for others.

Some Policy Priorities

  • Foreign policy emphasis on multilateralism, multilateral global institutions and enhanced aid outcomes
  • Changing attitude and resources for U.S.-Canada relations
  • New and enhanced security policy framework
  • More money flowing to municipalities for infrastructure
  • Economic development focused on industrial clusters and urban community issues such as immigrant resettlement, aboriginal programming, etc.
  • Lifelong learning and early childhood development
  • Education and training focus, including new tax incentives
  • Health care, shorter waiting lists metric
  • Clean air, clean water
  • Focus on homelessness and seniors programming

Where new money may flow

  • Municipal infrastructure
  • Health care
  • Lifelong learning and early childhood development
  • Science and technology
  • Education and training

Accountability Framework: How to find money for new priorities

Given the current fiscal environment with little surplus or revenue increases, money for new priorities will be captured through a permanent program review process. There will be a focus on outcomes and performance measures in relation to desired outcomes. Programs that don't work will end, while those that do and that are consistent with priorities will be funded. It may be expected that up $3 billion will be necessary to fund new priorities.

Each department will have its own Comptroller General. Initially, an expenditure freeze may be implemented.

Implications for Business

It will be important to have corporate and industry priorities aligned with new and changing government priorities. There may be a period of uncertainty for government contracting. Enhanced accountability and accountability frameworks will be a feature of all programs and spending.


Hillwatch Inc., 45 O’Connor St. Suite 1150, Ottawa ON K1P 1A4 tel: (613) 238-8700 fax: (866) 310-4955