We’re onto something: Marijuana

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS – QUEBEC

The consultation process related to the legalization of cannabis was launched in early June by Public Health Minister, Lucie Charlebois. An experts’ forum will be held on June 19 and 20, and regional public consultations will take place in August and September. An thorough debate including diverse perspectives can be expected.

Summer is the season to get prepared!

Are you affected by any of the bills? This is the time to prepare your positions and develop your strategy. Are you looking for support regarding your participation in consultations, to undertake government relations initiatives, to engage stakeholders around your point of view, or to educate the media and even your employees? It’s not too soon to think about it.

Coming soon: Experts’ forum conclusions 

The first step for the Quebec government will be to draw up an inventory of knowledge on cannabis and stakeholder views on the choices to be made in developing the new regulatory system. Among topics to be presented at the experts’ forum: road safety, health, prevention, taxation, labour and workplace issues, the fight against smuggling, production and distribution models, and harmonization between the medical and recreational cannabis systems. Get ready for a full agenda!

Following Tout-Cannabis’ two-day consultation period, the government will be able to select the direction for its framework law and prepare its regional public consultations tour. Experts’ forum conclusions are likely to serve as the basis for this framework law, that will be introduced at the Quebec National Assembly this fall.

Next up: Regional consultations

Regional consultations are open to the public and will be held in August and September in many regions of Quebec (please check web site for schedule updates before publication). This will provide citizens, organisations and companies with the opportunity to voice their concerns and policy propositions. As maple leaves will begin to turn red throughout Quebec, we can bet that the symbolic cannabis leaf will be at the center of conversations and media coverage.

This is what you’ve been waiting for: the Quebec government’s bill

The goal of consultations is to better understand experts and the public in view of the bill that will be introduced in National Assembly this fall. Complementary to the federal bill, this framework law will be related to Quebec’s competencies regarding cannabis. It will likely fuel more debates before its implementation the summer of 2018. 

Should you have any questions about the legalization of marijuana, on the stakeholders involved or about the ways through which you can assert your position, please contact Caroline Lavoie

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It’s Time to Think About the 2018-2019 Federal Budget

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS – FEDERAL

You may want to start drafting your wish list for the 2018–2019 federal budget because the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance launched its pre-budget consultation process ten days ago. This year, Members of Parliament want to hear about ways to increase the productivity and the competitiveness of the Canadian economy.

Take part in the conversation and make your voice heard about these crucial issues by submitting a memoir. It’s also an excellent opportunity to raise your profile, position your issues, share your recommendations and advance your policy agenda. Octane’s team will be pleased to work with you and your organization so that you get the best out of that process. 

Here is what the committee wants to know:

1. What federal measures would help Canadians to be more productive?

For example, what education and training, health, housing, and labour market participation and mobility measures would help Canadians to be as productive as possible in their workplaces and their communities?

2. What federal measures would help Canadian businesses to be more productive and competitive?

For example, what measures would help businesses to undertake research, innovation and commercialization, purchase advanced technology and equipment, invest in the training and development of their employees, participate in global value chains and increase their international market share? 

 How can you Participate?

The committee welcomes submissions of 2000 words (roughly 10 pages) or less until noon on Friday, August 4. In September, the committee will invite selected groups and individuals to present their submission in person.

Why Participate?

Submissions and testimonies will inform a report which will be sent to the Minister of Finances for his consideration before the next federal budget.

Reporters cover committees and the most original or interesting ideas are sometimes mentioned in the media. It’s a good way of being heard. 

If you have questions on the process or if you need support to draft a report or prepare your testimony, communicate with Jean Michel Laurin, Executive Director of our Ottawa office.

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Municipal Elections: Join the Conversation Now!

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS – MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

Although the municipal election campaign officially begins only at the end of September, political organizations are already at work drafting programs, issuing platforms, training candidates and building networks of contacts. This is when candidates and parties form their opinions on the issues that may become campaign themes.

Make sure you show up, take part in the conversation and position yourself while the teams are in the field in “active listening” mode, meeting with the population, groups and influencers.

An electoral campaign (even more so a pre-campaign) is the ideal opportunity to position oneself on economic, cultural, urban and environmental scenes, and to exchange with all the candidates, who are always happy to meet you and show that they are listening. You can get much more out of them now than the day after the election, when everyone will be gathered on their doorstep.

Prepare yourself, be methodic (and do not hesitate to consult experts)

Where to start? Do you have to reach out to all candidates or only a few? Is it important to talk to all the parties? What are the legislative limits on discussions with candidates? Do you have to register to meet candidates or only elected officials? How can we mobilize our allies to promote their point of view? How can we convince parties to formally commit to a project?

If your objective is to start a debate, bring forward a neglected project or propose new ways of doing things, time is already running out. The initiatives that will be at the forefront of electoral campaign

s are currently being planned or discussed within the various groups and stakeholders. These initiatives can come from a single individual, a promoter or an organization, and they can snowball at any time. 

A citizen could request the opening of a dog park far from homes to preserve quiet in a neighbourhood. A concert promoter could seek the support of candidates to have an area rezoned to build higher in a mixed-use zone. An environmental group could mobilize to preserve green space targeted by real estate development. All the stakeholders in a particular area will seek attention and intentions—and, if possible, formal commitments—from candidates. The media adds to this whirlwind with increased attention to the municipal scene, fueled by all the stakeholders, which can further influence opinions and heighten pressure on certain projects. 

Identify the issues that concern you, determine your added value in the debate, seek expertise to support your point of view, and invite your allies to participate. And if you’re not sure how to go about it, call on professionals (like us ;-).

In short, an election campaign is a seduction strategy that should be taken seriously. It is a unique moment when everyone is called upon to help develop electoral platforms, candidate commitments and even public opinion. Many projects have found a second life during an election campaign. It’s all a question of expediency and timing. Winston Churchill once said: “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” All this to say, an election campaign needs preparing, before, during and after election day!

How about you? What issue will you focus on during the campaign?

Do you have questions about ways to take part in the conversation ahead of the municipal elections? Contact Hugo Morissette.

 

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Pleased to Meet You

Octane is a public affairs firm with offices in Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City. Our team is best known for its proven capacity to manage complex issues and for the depth of its expertise. We develop custom-made strategies aligned with each project’s unique characteristics. We also display creativity and innovation to meet clients’ objectives, using a personalized approach that goes beyond ready-made formulas.

  • About 20 seasoned professionals
  • Special advisors who are leaders in their fields
  • Approximately 100 active clients, of which 80% from the private or not-for-profit sectors
  • In-house graphic design studio
  • A+ member of the Alliance des cabinets de relations publiques du Québec
  • A member of Montreal International
  • Eligible to be awarded major public contracts in Canada

Our Services:

Government Relations: We communicate effectively with policy makers, public servants and elected officials to move your projects forward. 

Public and Media Relations: We work with purveyors of information and opinion—journalists, influencers and networks—to get your message across.

Consultation and Social Acceptability: We master the intricacies of community relations and public consultations for complex projects.

You want to know more ? Send us an email and we will reach out to you soon. 

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Proposed cannabis legislation: Plenty of work in store for Quebec

On April 13, the federal government tabled the highly-anticipated and historic bill to legalize cannabis. Given the legislative process and inter-government negotiations in the offing, it’s hardly surprising that the bill leaves so much to be determined, such as permissible concentrations, the federal excise tax percentage, prices, and what information can and must be provided to consumers.

The provinces have quite a few decisions to make between now and July 1, 2018, the date legal pot goes on sale. Where should the Quebec government, a newcomer to the politics of pot, focus its energies? In addition to the aspects that fall fully under its jurisdiction, like distribution, several important issues merit further reflection and dialogue with the parties involved.

Developing a processing industry

Edibles (brownies, gummies, and teas) represent 50% of the Colorado market for both medical and recreational users. Now largely excluded from the bill, if added in the future, these products could potentially turn Quebec into a processing hub, making up for the slow start of its production industry. Beyond brownies, processing harbours significant potential for innovation not only in the agri-food sector but also in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Standardized doses and effects and the fast absorption of ingested cannabis will constitute decisive developments for this emerging industry.

Local production

To develop processing expertise and retain a maximum of recreational cannabis sales revenue, Quebec should work with producers who are already established in the province, in addition to encouraging new players. Fully 22% of pot consumers nationwide call Quebec home. Why ask other provinces to produce our cannabis?

Consider the various possibilities in terms of recreational production licenses

If it’s logical for Health Canada to oversee production licensing for medical marijuana, several different bodies might legitimately supervise recreational cannabis production. Currently, that authority resides with the Ministry of Justice in Ottawa. However, as the Union des producteurs agricoles recently pointed out that, cannabis is a crop. Provincial governments might thus govern production licenses much as they do for tobacco, another regulated crop. Would provinces benefit from pushing the legislative process in this direction?

 The government and stakeholders must raise these questions during the upcoming public and legislative debate this year. There remains a great deal to be clarified in both the federal bill and Quebec’s future framework law, but many opportunities to sway the outcome also exist. And while the national cannabis legalization policy has the potential to make Canada a world leader in the industry, the ability of the different jurisdictions to work together in negotiations will play a critical role in the success of the project.

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