the strength to take concerted action and put people back at the heart of the business

In mid-October, we brought together a number of Quebec gas pedal spokespersons for a day of government representation in Ottawa. In addition to taking advantage of the visibility of SMB Week, this visit across the Ottawa River enabled us to forge links with people who are active on the federal scene, and also with each other!

MAIN had also received an invitation from the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and the Economy to discuss a report, The Need for an Innovation Strategy for a Data-Driven Economy, submitted last June. It was for these two reasons that we invited our network to join us in Ottawa.

group representation with a common angle

the first lesson concerns the importance of good preparation, especially between members of the same delegation, with key messages and a certain choreography for interventions.

The representatives of Quebec gas pedals and incubators - 2 Degrés, Cycle Momentum, Esplanade Québec, Garage&co, Institut Innovation Gatineau, La base entrepreneuriale HEC Montréal and Novarium- had a very different experience base when it came to government meetings.

In order to clearly define the intentions of these performance days, we first established our objectives together in advance, notably during preparatory meetings. By sharing our mutual objectives, we were able to better define the encounters that would serve as fruitful first conversations, and begin to build our address books.

we also set a schedule to suit everyone's interests, while leaving some free time to give delegation members a chance to plan other individual meetings. on site, before each meeting, we defined the broad outlines of what each person was going to say. already, after the second meeting, we were beginning to have a good flow of information to pass on between the speakers.

One thing we'll remember for future meetings of this kind is to have a document at main outlining the key elements that will be left with the people we meet. This kind of document sometimes goes much further than the exchange itself.

the importance of face-to-face meetings

The second lesson concerns time management. With virtual meetings, it's easier to move from one meeting to the next, and compress the day's schedule.

in person, in addition to having meetings that lasted longer than expected, there was sometimes too little time between meetings for travel between government buildings, especially considering that security to access the buildings is equivalent to that found at the airport.

despite this, the benefits of face-to-face meetings are priceless. Human interaction, non-verbal communication and greater conversational fluidity are just three of the many advantages of making a first impression in person.

For the record, we met with key people in all three functions of the federal government: the House of Commons, the Senate and the public service:

  • MPs Maxime Blanchette-Joncas and Sébastien Lemire, respectively responsible for innovation and entrepreneurship at the Bloc Québécois;
  • Senator Clément Gignac, member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and the Economy;
  • senior civil servants Mark Schaan and Charles Vincent at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISDE), and many of their colleagues.

In addition to all these official meetings, we visited theImpact Hub Ottawa offices, took the opportunity to attend a Question Period session in the Parliament Buildings, and rounded things off at Invest Ottawa for dinner with several of the team members, including Nick Quain, as well as representatives of the Ottawa startup ecosystem, John Nelson ofCarleton University and Patrick White of L-SPARK.

the informal is just as important as the formal (and we tend to forget this)

The third and final learning, and probably the most important, concerns the importance of leaving time between meetings. When schedules allow for more space, we leave room for the spontaneous moments that can arise. A trip between two places allows informal conversations to continue between people who know each other, sometimes a lot, sometimes little, and who discover each other's chemistry.

Yes, lobby days are all about time management and preparation, but they're a good use of the present moment, and better than a virtual meeting as a conversation starter.

In fact, these meetings can open doors and lead you to return to Ottawa more frequently to continue face-to-face discussions. They facilitate and encourage virtual meetings for closer follow-up as needed. and follow-up, as we know, is often more important than the meetings themselves.

we often talk about being top-of-mind in marketing. in government relations, the faces we meet in person often take the lead in people's minds.

It's a good thing we're planning a government delegation, this time on Quebec's parliamentary hill, in conjunction with Sommet des accélérateurs 2024! If you're interested, drop me a line at

- Guillaume Lajoie, Communications and Public Affairs Manager