A thoughtful approach to introducing yourself to the new Ontario Government.

A thoughtful approach to introducing yourself to the new Ontario Government.

It’s a cliché – only one chance to make a first impression. But like many clichés, it’s also true. That’s why we recommend a very thoughtful approach to your first contacts with the new government.


TIP 1: You’ll be trying to introduce yourself to some very busy people

  • New Ministers, new MPPs and new Political Staff are often almost overwhelmed by events
    • New roles, new offices, new colleagues, new things to learn
    • Excitement and a sense of being very important, combined with anxiety about all the new pressures
    • Family, friends and people hoping to use their connections with the newly important will all want to be in touch – urgently.
  • The last thing they need is an urgent demand to spend time meeting new organizations when they don’t yet have a real grasp on their new reality.


It’s crazy time for new Ministers and their staff – and for new MPPs.

Put yourself in their position… and ask yourself… how much would you appreciate it if the Executive Director of any organization started calling and demanding an urgent meeting…

Not a great way to get started on a new friendship.


  • There’s so much noise around the newly important it’s hard to make yourself heard.
  • Plus – it’s important to avoid appearing to be pressuring these newly important individuals
    • In this context, pressure will arouse resentment.
    • It’s also a little rude.
  • That doesn’t mean you do nothing.
    • It just means you do nothing that seems pushy or demanding.


You probably won’t be heard in all the hubbub that surrounds a new government and

– if you insist on being heard – you’ll probably awaken a negative – and a lastingly negative – response.

But there are still things you can… and should do… as you prepare to meet the new government.


TIP 2: Introducing yourself to the new government is a gradual process.

  • There are some very sensible things you can do leading up the introduction
    • A courtesy – a brief note of congratulations on the new appointment, saying “I know you’re very busy now but I’ll take the liberty of calling your office next month to talk about ways we can work together to meet the government’s goals”.
    • Some research: Do we have mutual acquaintances? Does this individual have a track record on your issues? Do we think they are knowledgeable about our issues?
    • A political scan: Are their issues upcoming in the near or medium future where the newly important will want our help or advice (or we theirs)?


You don’t just sit and wait until the new Ministers and political staff are less busy – a little hint here, that day never comes. But you work to get your ducks in a row while you’re waiting for an opportune time to approach them.

Being polite is always in fashion – and a congratulatory note is just good manners. It’s flattering, and it’s a chance to leave a positive message.

Looking for mutual acquaintances is very important. It’s so much better to say “John Jones suggested I call” than it is to make a truly cold call.

And checking your radar for urgent issues is a good idea. If you have something coming up where the government is likely to affect your interests, you may have to adopt a more urgent approach. That’s tougher, but we can help you with it if it comes to that.


TIP 3: The “permanent government” – Ontario’s Public Service – will be part of your introduction to the new government.

  • Your public service contacts will be an invaluable source of information and advice about the new Ministers and political staff
  • They will also be an invaluable source of information and advice to the new Ministers and political – about you!
    • Keep this professional. The Public Service works for the government, not you.
    • The challenge is to assure them they can best serve the government by working with you.
  • Your objective is to have the public service tell Ministers and their staffs that “we can work with these people”.

And while you’re waiting for the smoke to clear around the newly important people in the Minister’s office, it’s a good idea to focus on your public service contacts – the ones that last longer than individual governments.


TIP 4: Is it likely that the new government may have some negative pre-conceptions about you?

  • Do you or your organization have a history with these individuals?
    • Thinking back on the election campaign, did you or your organization attack the character of these individuals or their parties?
    • During the campaign, did the other parties position you and your organization as part of the broader opposition to the new government?
    • It is not necessary to apologize for opposing the government, but avoid becoming an active part of the permanent opposition or questioning the government’s legitimacy.

And while you’re at it… give a thought to any pre-conceptions the new government might have about you and your organization. It could arise from long ago events, or from things you or your people said or did during the election campaign. Or it could be something as simple as having another political party feature you in their advertising against the government.

Any way… you’ll have to address these things going forward. We can help you figure out how to do that.


TIP 5: When you do contact the new government, have a clear reason to talk, and an assurance of good will in your dealings with the government.

  • “The new Ford Government will be around for the next four years at least, and we’re looking for creative ways to help the government succeed”.
    • That should be a true statement – regardless. It doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself in opposition to the government. It means you’re open to opportunities to work together.
  • “We’d like to talk to you because… “

Two things here. The first is that it’s critical to be seen as someone who acknowledges the government’s legitimacy. You don’t have to have liked the Ford PCs, but once they’re the Ford Government, you have to be realistic and have them know you’re realistic: you have to work with the government you have.

The second thing – and this should be obvious but often isn’t – you need a reason to talk.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had government people ask “What where they asking for?” when groups talk to the government. You need a clear ask – a clear reason to meet, and clear reasons why resolving the issues is good for everyone involved.


TIP 6: There are 3 reasons to ask to meet the new government.

Reason One:  to ask for advice.

  • It is always flattering to be asked for advice and it makes good sense: “In our situation, how would you suggest we approach the government?”
  • Identifying areas for co-operation… “I think we can work together on…”

Reason Two: to offer help or support.

  • If the government is considering doing something you agree with – or something less awful than you had feared – will you be their partner?

Reason Three:  to advocate for your issues.

  • If you have followed the suggestions here… that can be a useful meeting.

And here… we’re back to Leonard Domino 101: the reasons to talk to government. It goes back to what we were just talking about… making sure we have a reason to approach government and ask for their time. Ask yourselves… when do any of these three reasons for talking to government seem appropriate for your organization? Which will motivate your next contact with the government?


TIP 7:  What approaches will you follow as you plan your introduction to the new government?

  • That’s the assignment…
    • Preparation with the public service
    • Research on the individuals
    • Crafting your messages to fit the new government’s values
    • Seeking advice (it never hurts to ask)

The fact that you’ll be facing a new government in a little under a month makes all this seem a little urgent… but once again… this stuff looks easy, and it’s often not easy at all. These people are busy. They are important people, and some of them feel more important than others which can make it interesting to deal with them. And you need your ducks in a row before you begin asking for any of their precious time. Again, this is what we do for a living, and we can help you with it, but for today – take a few minutes to discuss how you’ll approach making that first impression with Ontario’s new government.


Leonard Domino & Associates Government Relations seminar. The morning of May 11 2018 for our seminar

Leonard Domino & Associates Government Relations seminar.  The morning of May 11 2018 for our seminar,                                                         “You Only Get One Chance.”

*****SOLD OUT ******

This is a very practical workshop – focusing on methods and tactics that can help government relations practitioners make tangible progress towards their goals.

DATE:              Friday, May 11, 2018

TIME:              8:00 a.m. registration

PLACE:             The University Club of Toronto
380 University Avenue,Toronto, Ontario M5G 1R6
West side between Queen St and Dundas Street. St. Patrick’s is the
nearest subway station.

WIND-UP:       The conference will end at around 11:45

LUNCH:            Complimentary lunch and informal “debriefing.”


9:00 –10:00 a.m. Session 1: “Values and how they will affect government decisions after the election”  

– Led by Leonard Domino.

10:00 – 11:00  Session 2:  “Making a good first impression”  

– This will address how best to introduce your organization to a new government.  

– Led by Sarah Domino. 

Structured discussions will involve table talk, expert panel comments and advice from Leonard and Sarah.

[Break at 11:00] 

11:15 – 11:45  Session 3: “New restrictions”

–  Leonard will explain the new restrictions on in-house lobbyists during elections.

Letter from the Integrity Commissioner

Expert Panel

 Brian Brophey – Registrar & Director, Member Relations, at Ontario Professional Planners Institute
• Darren Praznik – President & CEO at Cosmetics Alliance Team
• Greg Toffner – President & CEO at OAMRS – Ontario Association of Medical Radiation Sciences
• Loretta Ryan –Executive Director at Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa)
• Searle Schonewille – Director, Policy Development and Government Relations
• Ted Ball – Transformation Coach at Quantum Transformation Technologies

Letter from the Integrity Commissioner

Response from Ontario Lobbyists Registry

We’re holding a Leonard Domino government relations workshop on May 11th because the old saying is true: you only get one chance to make a first impression.

No matter which party wins Ontario’s provincial election on June 7th, we’re going to have a new government in this province. The PCs are currently ahead in the polls. The NDP are always an alternative for many Ontario voters. If the Wynne Liberals are successful with their new budget, it will still be a new government. It’s important for your organization to get off on the right foot with the new regime.

Your plan for a successful introduction to the new government should start with some careful thought around the real values and priorities of the Doug Ford PCs. We’ll be covering that in depth at the May 11th workshop.

The Ford PCs have made it very clear that they aim to control government spending. That can be bad news for organization counting on big increases in government support. But it will also mean that they may be open to new ideas for doing things more effectively.Looking for opportunities to suggest meaningful reforms should be an important part of your planning for a successful introduction to the new government. We’ll help you do that at the May 11 th workshop. And that kind of thinking is good preparation – no matter which party forms the next Ontario Government.

Like it or not, your behavior and your organization’s public statements during the election will be part of your introduction to the new government. On May 11 th , we’ll talk about how that works, too.

Political parties – including the Doug Ford PCs – understand that organizations and individuals will disagree with them from time to time. So, speaking out on the issues that concern you is not a problem.
But politicians – like anyone else – do have a problem with people who question their honesty or their character. Keeping your election focus on the issues will make it less likely the new government and its staffers will view you as “the enemy” before you even start to build relationships with them.

There are no magic tricks to achieving good working relationships with governments, but there are some common sense, win-win strategies that can get your new relationships with the new government off on the right foot.

We’ll be talking about those strategies on May 11th.

If there are any other specific issues you’d like to see discussed at the workshop, please let us know by including them in the email when you enroll for the workshop.

Our seminar will be limited to 20 people, so there will be ample opportunity for questions, comments and suggestions.  Past seminars have been very enjoyable, involving lots of interactions.  We expect the same the morning of May 11th.

We look forward to sharing ideas, and we hope to see you there.

Cost: $179 plus tax.   ****SOLD OUT ***

Please note, we offer complimentary seat/s at our seminars to associations with gross revenues less than a million dollars. To take advantage of this offer please email

Questions? please e-mail Hunter Domino at


Douglas Tindal Former Chief of Staff to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Announced as speaker at September 23rd Seminar

We are pleased to announce Douglas Tindal Former Chief of Staff to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Announced as the speaker at our upcoming “SYNCHING YOUR STRATEGIES WITH THE GOVERNMENT’S LIFE CYCLE” seminar on September 23rd.           


8:00 am           Continental Breakfast

8:45                   Leonard Domino:  The Government’s Life Cycle

9:00                   Group Discussion:

1:  How will the government (and the general political climate) have changed by this fall as the government enters the second half of it life cycle?

2:  What are the right government relations priorities at this stage in the government’s life cycle?

9:40                    Panel Discussion:


Michael Decaire MA, C.Psych., R.Psych., R.P. FLEX Psychology, CEO Clinical Director and President of the Ontario Association of Psychological Associates. 

Greg Toffner MHS, BSc and CEO of the Ontario Association of Medical Radiation Sciences

Sarah Domino Consultant, Leonard Domino and Associates

All three panelists are accomplished practitioners who have recently been successful in influencing government decisions. Each will describe a success story and answer questions.

10:15                  Refreshment break

10:30                  Speaker:

Douglas Tindal, Former Chief of Staff to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Topic: Three things to remember when communicating with a Minister’s Office

11:15                   Group discussion:

1:  How best to build lasting relationships (i.e., that will survive the next election) with ministers and government members, oppositions members, and, above all, with the public servants who will be advising the ministers’ offices.

2:  What have you heard this morning that has stood out for you?

11:30                   Leonard Domino:

Two actions that all associations should undertake immediately

11:45                    Seminar ends

*If you would like to join Sarah and Leonard for lunch, please let Sarah know, and we will reserve a seat for you at our table.

For more information on this great seminar please click here.

Reviews from the April 2016 Seminar

After our “Successful Government Relations” Seminar in April 2016 we once again surveyed our participants. The results were phenomenal;

We polled participants from our April 2016 “Successful Government Relations” Seminar, and the feedback was so positive we thought we would share it with you.

Once again our facilitator brought an great value to the gathering, earning a 4.25 of a possible 5 star review. With 87.5% of respondents rating him “Very Good” or “Excellent”.

Participants really enjoyed the real life examples and the seminar was called; “engaging”, “interesting”, “informative”, “energized”, “encouraging”, “practical”, and perhaps most importantly, “helpful.”
Thank you to everyone who participated in our exit poll, we look forward to seeing everyone at our next seminar, “Synching your Strategies with the Government’s ‘Life-Cycle'” Government Relations Seminar on September 23rd 2016.

The Feedback Is In!

We polled participants from our October 2015 “Refresh your Government Relations” Seminar, and the feedback was so positive we thought we would share it with you.

Each of the speakers – three panellist and the key note, scored at least a 4 star rating, and the facilitator was rated 4.5 stars out of five.

Participants really enjoyed the real life examples and the seminar was called; “insightful”, “interesting”, “credible”, “thoughtful”, “encouraging”, “informative” and perhaps most importantly, “comfortable.”

Thank you to everyone who participated in our exit poll, we look forward to seeing everyone at our next seminar, Successful Government Relations on April 8th 2016.

CAS Advocacy on Drug Shortages seen as a “Text Book Example” of effective ethical government relations.

On February 10th, 2015, in Vancouver, BC, after more than five years of consistent advocacy from the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society, Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced a new federal policy affecting Canada’s drug supply.  From now on, it will be mandatory for pharmaceutical manufacturers to immediately inform government and the public of any events that may jeopardize Canadian drug supplies.

The Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society was invited to attend that announcement in recognition of the fact that, since 2011,CAS Advocacy has been one of the main drivers, first putting the risk of drug shortages on the political agenda in Canada and then, with the February 10th announcement, achieving a giant first step towards true drug security for the Canadian health care system.

Leonard Domino has been a government relations professional in Ontario for more than 20 years, and he argues that the CAS’ five-plus years of work on the drug shortage file ranks as a “text book example” of the way government relations should work.

“Start with the issue itself.  The risk of drug shortages affects everyone in Canada, and no one was better placed to identify the problem than the anesthesiologists.  It was never a pocket book issue for them – it was all in the public interest.

“They used their scientific authority to raise the issue and explain it to political decision makers.  They reached out to any potential partners they could find, including other members of the medical profession.  They were persistent, and they were consistent:  during the years the CAS was pursuing this goal, the Society’s executive changed, membership changed, but their message was consistent.

“And they reasoned with the people they were talking to.  There were no political games.  They put the case clearly and authoritatively – and respectfully.  Both the political and the bureaucratic parts of the governments they talked to saw the CASas sincere, expert potential partners in solving the problem.

“The CAS has every right to be proud of what they’ve already achieved with this piece of advocacy.”

Leonard Domino says that, if the CAS persists with the same kind of positive, persistent and ethical advocacy that’s marked the last five years, there’s every reason to believe they will continue to influence government.



By: Dr Douglas DuVal, FRCPC


CAS received a call from the office of the Minister of Health on February 5 that we (CAS) were invited to be present and to speak at an announcement on the mandatory reporting of drug shortages, scheduled for February 10 in Vancouver. CAS President, Dr. Susan O’Leary, asked whether I would be able to go, and I was honoured to do so.

At approximately 9:00 a.m., the Minister made her announcement, followed by the other speakers, including British Columbia Minister of Health, Terry Lake, myself, and Suzanne Nurse, PhD, Chair, Canadian Epilepsy Alliance Drug Shortages Committee. Also in attendance was Dr Sukh Brar, President, British Columbia Anesthesiologists’ Society, who is well acquainted and on very cordial terms with Minister Lake.

Looking back, I note that CAS’ involvement in initiatives leading toward this important legislation really started with former CAS President, Dr Richard Chisholm expressing in a January 2011 letter to the Federal Minister of Health concerns about CAS members’ reports of shortages of propofol and reductions in the supply of Sodium Thiopental. As a result, it then became evident that Health Canada was lacking in ability to monitor and manage drug availabilities.

Just over a year later, the Sandoz manufacturing disruptions affected dozens of critical medications and triggered a very real crisis in Canada’s drug supply. On March 29, 2012, Dr Chisholm appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health (via video conference from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he was attending the World Congress of Anaesthesiologists!) and gave a powerful address which included the statement that “we need a requirement for industry to tell about events that might disrupt the drug supply and an acceptance by government of a requirement to ask, to monitor, and make sure.”

On February 7, 2014, then President, Dr Patricia Houston, made a presentation on the problem of drug shortages to the Specialist Forum of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). This presentation had an impact, and led to the creation by the CMA Board of Directors of a Drug Shortages Working Group in June 2014. When Dr Houston became CAS Past President, I “inherited” the drug shortages “file” and was committed to doing what I could to maintain its momentum.

As it happens, I reside in Minister Ambrose’s Edmonton-Spruce Grove constituency. I was fortunate to be able to arrange a one-on-one meeting with her on August 20, 2014 through the CMA MD-MP contact program ( As was reported about this meeting in the last issue of Anesthesia News (, Minister Ambrose mentioned at the time that consultations about a mandatory reporting requirement for drug shortages had already wrapped up, and she anticipated that the requirement would be forthcoming.

We have made great progress. Mandatory reporting of anticipated drug supply disruptions is an important step, but we intend to continue to advocate directly and also through the CMA for processes that will be helpful in minimizing the impact of such supply disruptions when they occur. Specifically, we would like to see a process established whereby Health Canada, in the face of anticipated shortages of essential drugs in the domestic marketplace, may “fast-track” the approval and importation of alternative equivalent drugs that are being safely used in other jurisdictions. This could perhaps be accomplished through a broadening of the parameters under which the existing Health Canada “Special Access Program”1; is permitted to be invoked, or through a new and distinct process.”

1The Special Access Programme (SAP) provides access to non-marketed drugs for practitioners treating patients with serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional therapies have failed, are unsuitable, or unavailable. The SAP authorizes a manufacturer to sell a drug that cannot otherwise be sold or distributed in Canada. Drugs considered for release by the SAP include pharmaceutical, biologic, and radio-pharmaceutical products not approved for sale in Canada.





“Leadership” commonly has wide-ranging definitions. Broadly, the dictionary defines it as “to lead a group of people or organization” but really it doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all definition.

The fact is that the definition of “leadership” varies as it is a complex concept.

In the CAS context, I believe that our leadership means we are organizationally proactive and responsive in serving our members’ needs and supporting the important work they do every day in all aspects of their patient care.

Most recently, two important “successes” underscore CAS’ leadership on the national stage – Health Minister Rona Ambrose’s recent announcement about the federal government’s actions regarding drug shortages, and the Choosing Wisely Canada campaign to promote discussion between physicians and patients.


CAS Advocacy Efforts on Drug Shortages Yields Government Action

On February 10, 2015, Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced that the federal government is moving to make it mandatory for pharmaceutical manufacturers to notify government and the public of threats that could lead to shortages of essential drugs. Dr Douglas DuVal, Vice-President, represented CAS at this announcement, which is the culmination of CAS’ unwavering advocacy efforts over five years.

CAS’ leadership role in this initiative is particularly important because drug shortages significantly impact patient care and therefore have a broad public interest component. We were advocating on a national stage and we achieved results.

I would like to acknowledge the dedication and leadership shown by Drs Richard Chisholm, Patricia Houston and Douglas DuVal, and all of the other committed volunteers who – each in their own way – keenly demonstrated that their collaborative styles of leadership reaped significant benefits.


Choosing Wisely Canada

For several months, CAS members have been hearing about the Choosing Wisely Canada campaign and surveys have now been distributed to members.

In fact, this campaign is an excellent opportunity to take a leadership role. It is aimed at helping physicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures, and supporting physician efforts to help patients make smart and effective choices to improve the quality of their care. With the considerable media attention on patients’ rights and expectations, CAS’ involvement in this campaign is in the interests of both our members and our patients.


Looking Ahead

I am very proud of our efforts as a Society and look forward to embracing other initiatives that will require us to take action.

What’s also important now is to mark your calendar for June 19-22 in Ottawa for the CAS Annual Meeting!  On the scientific program is interesting and leading-edge thinking focused on the brain and anesthesia. On the social side, there will be plenty of “fun” activities. Many CAS volunteers are already working hard to deliver an outstanding 2015 Annual Meeting. Please register early!


Dr Susan O’Leary, FRCPC