Government Relations Committee
Recognizing that it is important for the legal profession to have an organized, ongoing strategy, the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association has developed a Government Relations Program on behalf of the organized Bar in British Columbia.
The primary objectives of the Government Relations Program are:
- To advance the profession’s position on issues and legislation;
- To ensure that the government policies and decisions involving the legal profession and the public it serves are fair and reasonable; and
- To foster dialogue and consultation between government and the organized Bar.
The program is guided by several principles, including:
- The use of consistent messages delivered in a timely and credible fashion;
- Regular communication with government staff and politicians on an ongoing year-round basis; and
- Acknowledgment of distinctions in mandate between the CBA’s government relations program activities and its work in the area of Legislation and Law Reform.
Greater attention has been paid in the recent years by the organized Bar to the importance of developing a formalized approach to government relations through the activities described below:
- To attending as many functions as possible with government caucus and with the official opposition to review current issues of concern to the Bar as a whole;
- To maintaining close contact with the Attorney General and with senior advisors from the Ministry. Several meetings occur throughout the year between the Government Relations Chairs, CBA Branch President and others to encourage the Deputy Attorney General.
- To ensuring the Attorney General’s liaison committee meets periodically throughout the year to discuss means of improving the operations of the Court system.
- To ensure the organized Bar is consulted in the area of Judicial appointments, Queen’s Counsel appointments and maintains a working relationship with Government by participating on other committees such as the Court Services Committee.
The activities of the Government Relations Committee are to be distinct from those of the Legislation and Law Reform Committee, the role of which is to promote well developed, practical laws on behalf of the Profession and the public, the committees work together by providing the Government with submissions and confidential advice on certain Legislative initiatives. The two committees should co-ordinate and be mutually supportive in order to achieve maximum results in the area of Government Relations.
Synopsis (Roles and Mandates)
- To develop and direct the implementation of a strategic government relations program on behalf of the BC Branch of Canadian Bar Association.
- To recruit, maintain, manage and direct the MLA Action Network, consisting of a group of volunteer members.
- To monitor and evaluate trends and to identify issues which concern and affect the legal profession in order to develop policies and programs to address those issues.
- To direct the development and preparation by staff of educational and informational material for distribution to the Government Relations Representatives and MLAs.
- To represent the legal profession through presentations and meetings with the Attorney General, Ministers, Cabinet committees, Party Caucuses and other government representatives as appropriate.
- To assess, on an annual basis, the goals and aims of the Government Relations Program, including a formal evaluation of the effectiveness of the program and its elements.
- To ensure that MLAs, Deputy Ministers and other appropriate government representatives are invited to attend selected functions of the CBA and Local & County Bar Associations as guests or as speakers.
Government Relations Representatives
- To meet with their assigned MLA(s) at the constituency level on a regular basis and on all issues identified by the Government Relations Committee as a matter of concern to the legal profession.
- Where appropriate, to meet with identified MLAs in Victoria.
- To supply local MLAs with the policy and informational materials which have been developed by the government Relations Committee.
- Where appropriate and as designated by the CBA, to advance the legal profession’s position on key issues.
Ground Rules for Good Government Relations
No mixed messages
The legal profession should seek to speak with one voice. Messages, once developed should be delivered consistently over an agreed time frame.
Consistent, regular and ongoing contact
The program should operate on a year-round basis to foster long-term relationship building.
Proactive approach to issues
Systems and procedures should be established and maintained in order to monitor, track and identify real emerging issues.
Communications activities should focus on quality rather than on quantity.
Clearly defined responsibilities
Responsibilities should be clearly identified and defined between the CBA Executive Committee, the Government Relations Committee and the volunteer network, and between the staff and volunteers responsible for developing and implementing the program.