Teck talk: Reading between the lines of a CEO's letter + finding opportunity

It was a Sunday shocker to be sure.

After nearly 10 years of effort to make the proposed Frontier oil sands project a reality, Canadian resources firm Teck announced suddenly it was taking its application for federal approval off the table.

A lot has changed since the application was first submitted.

The company’s application was adapted to keep pace with market realities and to secure buy-in from governments, Indigenous communities, and others.

But, in recent months, the project had also become a lightning rod of sorts.

For some environmental activists and others, it was a line in the sand that, if crossed, would have spelled political trouble for Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberals.

Several members of the Liberal caucus were reportedly pushing hard for Cabinet to kill the project as a final regulatory deadline loomed and as cross-country rail blockades continued.

Teck moved first saying, pointedly, “we are not merely shying away from controversy… It is our hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward.”

In essence: ‘forget the 7,000 jobs, the billions in revenues for public services, the world-leading technology we were ready to put in place to make Frontier one of the cleanest projects of its kind, *AND* the myriad benefits for Indigenous communities. You guys talk it out, and get back to us.’

The Teck twist is the latest in a national conversation that has been taking place for decades.

How best to reap the benefits of Canada’s resource riches while also preparing for the economy of the future?

This was, in fact, as good a project as any to prove to the world that Canada was a good place to invest capital into resource development.

It could also have provided tangible benefits to Indigenous communities and public funds to incentivize economic activities that will be key to Canada’s future prosperity.

Teck’s decision is the result of 40-year thinking. (It can wait.)

Governments – and especially minority governments – are often challenged to think beyond horizons one-tenth that long.

But the issue of sustainable economic growth and using our resources for maximum good should compel deep reflection from all thoughtful Canadians.

We clearly haven’t got it right yet. And if we don’t get there soon, it may be too late. There are only so many Tecks, and very few will be so willing to wait for us to sort ourselves out.

We love working with organizations that are engaged in big thinks and purpose-driven discussions. If you and your organization want to change Canada or the world for the better, we would love to work with you to make it happen. Get in touch today.

Navigating the politics of Canada's rail blockades

With protesting blocking major Canadian rail arteries now entering their third week, pressure is mounting for a solution.

Despite restarting service on some routes yesterday, VIA Rail temporarily laid off 1,000 of its employees.

Those lay-offs are on top of the 450 announced by CN earlier this week.

Job losses and other economic costs mount by the day as the protests idle $425 million worth of manufactured goods.

Provincial premiers are pressing the federal government for action.

And frustrations threaten to boil over into vigilanteism as everyday Canadians, too, begin to say enough is enough.

The federal government has pleaded for patience as it has tried to find a way forward.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister convened a meeting of so-called progressive opposition party leaders to ask them to support his approach and continued “dialogue.”

But with pressure mounting and polls showing a majority of voters opposed to the blockades, the government may be forced to change course.

One thing is clear: the politics of the blockades are as volatile as the situation itself.

The government is seeking a solution that maintains its tenuous electoral coalition and preserves its fledgling Parliamentary minority.

The opposition Conservatives, embroiled in a leadership race, have (rightly) called the blockades illegal and urged decisive action, without offering very many concrete ideas about ‘action’ actually means and what happens longer-term.

The Conservatives are virtually isolated as the Bloc Québecois, the NDP and the Greens have all essentially endorsed the government’s approach for now.

But with looming shortages of propane (used for heating and cooking) and chlorine (used to treat drinking water) threatening to impact people and communities across the countries, that support could easily shift.

All of this underscores the very fluid nature of Parliament Hill politics on matters critical to the national interest.

For now, it’s rail (and related issues surrounding the environment, economy, and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples). It will surely be another issue once this situation is resolved. Will you be ready?

When politics and public policy collide, effective advocacy becomes more critical than ever. We can help you and your organization navigate through the most challenging of public affairs environments.

We’ve got your back to stay on track and moving forward. Get in touch today.

In a leadership vacuum, speak up + seize the narrative

That it should come to this…

That’s the headline to which Canadians awoke this past Saturday morning.

Granted, the National Post is not a fan of Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, at the best of times.

But Trudeau has had a particularly rough few weeks (and, at times, he hasn’t helped his own cause).

Since emerging from his Christmas vacation in early January, Trudeau has been tested by a series of major incidents and events, domestic and international:

The rail blockades – in particular – are more than an issues management challenge for the Trudeau government. They are potentially an existential threat.

They involve matters of indigenous relations, rights, and governance – self-declared priorities for the reconciliation-minded Trudeau Liberals.

They test the notion that the government – any government – can balance economy and the environment while keeping everyone happy.

The people behind them and those impacted by them are voters Trudeau needs to keep as part of his tenuous electoral coalition.

All of this makes the Prime Minister’s handling of the protests even more curious.

For the first week of the rail crisis, Trudeau was travelling in Africa and Europe trying to shore up support for Canada’s bid for a temporary seat on the United Nations’ Security Council. (The election in question is in June.)

As Canadians’ frustrations over interrupted travel plans and idled goods mounted by the day, they were treated to an endless stream of photo ops and funding pledges by Trudeau – half a world away.

(Clearly stung by criticism over his handling of affairs, Trudeau cancelled a planned lobby trip to the Caribbean this week to stay home and attend to the rail crisis.)

Smart and savvy leaders of industry groups and professional associations whose members were most affected by the rail impasse took their message directly to the media (hungry for fresh angles on the blockades) and the public (frustrated by perceived government inaction).

The best of these spokespeople seized the narrative, and drove it to their own ends. Their members and stakeholders were well served.

At Winston Wilmont, we can help you navigate volatile situations like the one still unfolding along Canada’s rail lines.

We craft messages that will get noticed, prepare you for media interviews and stakeholder calls, plot out social campaigns, and help you advocate effectively on behalf of those counting on you.

In short, when it’s vitally important that you been seen and heard, we’ve got your back. Get in touch today.

#CdnAgDay and ag-vocacy

Canada’s farmers and agri-food producers feed cities and people around the world.

Beyond their vital contributions to Canada’s economy, their work also contributes to Canadians’ well-being.

Despite all that, though, Canada’s farm families have had a very rough couple of years.

Trade disputes, bad weather last season, and other factors have led to real hardship on several fronts.

Winston Wilmont knows this because we are proud to have worked with several associations and organizations involved in getting Canada’s top-quality agriculture and agrifood products to the world.

Now that House committees are struck, policies surrounding and programs supporting agriculture and agri-trade can again be advocated and studied.

Now is also the time to make the case for specific assistance in the upcoming federal budget.

If you have a case to be made to federal decision-makers, we would love to work with you. When it comes to ag-vocacy, we’ve got your back.

And when if comes to farmers, agri-food producers, and their families, we give thanks every day of the year.

The business of committees

The Hill is buzzing with activity this week.

House of Commons committee membership lists are being finalized, and Chairs and Vice-Chairs being elected!

(Pause for reaction)


(Wait, are you actually *yawning?*)

Okay, granted, this may seem like particularly process-nerdy, North-of-the-Queensway, inside baseball stuff.

Like, OMG, what does that have to do with Canadians’ daily lives?

Committee business is, in fact, incredibly important. And, in minority Parliaments like good ol’ #43 (the current one, Canada’s 43rd), committees’ work is even more important.

That’s because the government of the day doesn’t have dominance of committee processes it once did. (Gone, too, is the control. Ahem – LavScam.)

Committees study departmental spending, legislation, and other issues related to their mandate – in much greater detail than is possible in the House itself.

They produce reports that go to the House, and can – in a minority setting – force the government’s hand.

Some committees are already working on:

  • the new NAFTA pact (International Trade);
  • the coronavirus (Health);
  • and pre-budget consultations (Finance).

Given the results of last November’s election, each Commons committee will have 12 members. Most will have 6 Liberal MPs, 4 Conservative MPs, and one member each from the Bloc Québecois and the NDP.

But four oversight committees will be Opposition-controlled; the government will have fewer members than the Opposition parties. And those could get very interesting, hyper-political, and even nasty. (How quickly may influence the timing of the next election. À suivre.)

Regardless, for organizations large and small, minority parliaments can spell opportunity.

The opposition has more power; the government needs to secure support from at least one other party to get things done (and survive votes of confidence).

Parliamentarians of all stripes will be looking to advance ideas and policies that have broad support.

Committee agendas can be influenced differently.

Meetings and advocacy take on greater importance.

Understanding nuance, procedure, and (small- vs. large-p) political positioning is critical.

That’s where we can help.

If your organization and field of work is on a committee’s radar, let’s chat.

We can help you navigate the process, decide how and where best to pull the levers of power, prep you for big meetings and appearances, and ensure you make the most of the limelight.

That, after all, is the business of committee business. It’s how things get done. And if they catch you yawning, someone else is always right behind you to make the most of their opportunity moment.

We’ve got your back. Get in touch today.

World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day 2020 reflections from Winston Wilmont’s Chris Day

February 4 is World Cancer Day – a day for awareness, education, action about a disease that still claims more than 9.6 million lives worldwide each year.

That’s the entire population of Belarus. Every single person living in Bogota or Seoul.

And that doesn’t include the millions more people fighting brave fights against cancer each year.

My stepfather is one of the people in the latter group.

He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (mesothelioma) in 2016. Since then, he, my mother, and our entire family have been on quite a journey. He’s had some amazing care and is doing well at the moment. He is one of the very lucky ones.

We are very lucky.

Millions upon millions of families are perhaps not as fortunate. Their cancer journeys may have had comparatively few ups, and many more, deeper downs. Cancer takes way too many people much more quickly and without dignity.

So far, that has not been our journey. So far. So we are thankful.

A global campaign to mark World Cancer Day bills it as a positive movement.

That may seem odd to some. But when you consider the progress made, and stories like my stepfather’s, and every family gathering we still get with him because diagnosis, treatment, after-care, and monitoring are all much better than they used to be… there is reason for optimism.

Cancer tests optimism, to be sure.

Even the best cancer journeys have very dark moments.

But, collectively, we are making progress.

Over the years, I have met some incredibly brilliant and amazingly dedicated people moving the cancer yardsticks forward – on research, on treatment, in other areas, too. On this and every day, I salute their work and their results.

They are among the reasons I LOVE working with health-care organizations.

The best of these orgs have people at the centre of everything they do. They work tirelessly and daily to make a positive difference and to make progress on the big issues that matter.

When we talk about working with organizations that are purpose-driven, there is no purpose higher than the betterment of the human condition.

Today, and every day, we salute those working toward a cancer-free future.

NEWS RELEASE: January 30, 2020


OTTAWA, ON (Jan. 8) – Visitors to Ottawa, Canada’s capital, now have a new e-tool to help them make the most of their time in our vibrant, growing city.

Winston Wilmont, the bilingual, Ottawa-based public affairs consultancy, is today launching www.capital-concierge.ca.

Capital Concierge by Winston Wilmont allows business and leisure travellers – and their families – to leverage Winston Wilmont’s unparalleled local networks to secure high-value meetings to help them find business success, and meaningful, authentic personal experiences tailored to them.

There’s an old saying that ‘you have to live here to get it;’ that’s no longer the case in Ottawa. We will work directly with travellers to our city to craft for them custom itineraries that further their business and personal interests, allow them to live like a local, and ensure success however the traveller defines it.

CHRIS DAY, President, Winston-Wilmont, Inc.

Capital Concierge by Winston Wilmont will help introduce visitors to Ottawa to all that our city has to offer.

To celebrate the launch of www.capital-concierge.ca, we’re offering a 25% rebate on initial consultations on spring travel to Ottawa. Our spring sale is on now until February 29, 2020.


Winston-Wilmont, Inc. is a bilingual, boutique consultancy specializing in integrated marketing communications, public relations and issues management, government and regulatory affairs, and event management and support. Founded by Chris Day in 2016, Winston Wilmont benefits from his extensive executive-level experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Chris has worked in and/or travelled to 77 countries on six continents (including work with both foreign affairs and immigration as a senior government advisor) and as such he forged deep connections around the world. 

Based in Canada’s capital city, Winston Wilmont has the knowledge and expertise to help global clients find success however they define it. Winston Wilmont adds value at every client interaction as part of its brand promise. A member of Ottawa Tourism, Capital Concierge by Winston Wilmont operates at the intersection of business and leisure travel, with a focus on forging meaningful connections and creating memorable experiences.


For more information, please contact Chris Day at cdayottawa@live.ca or leave a reply below.

On visit & event management: We've got your back

It felt like an a-ha moment.

I was sitting recently with the commercial counsellor at an embassy based here in Ottawa.

She mentioned an upcoming trade mission she is organizing.

More than a dozen high-level industry leaders will be coming to Ottawa later this year looking for ways to strengthen ties with, and grow their businesses in, Canada.

Organizing and ensuring that each participant gets the most out of such events is a *LOT* of work.

My embassy friend knows this well.

When I said, ‘I can help you with that.’ She asked: ‘how?’

I proceeded to give her a couple of examples of how we might connect and support different participants.

‘It’s part of what I do,’ I told her. ‘I connect people.’ (I also love to show off my hometown to visitors.)

Back to the ‘a-ha’ moment. For my friend, it was learning that there are people ‘out there’ that can support her. For me, it was that I’d not done enough to let people know about that aspect of my consultancy.

And so, today, we are launching a new website devoted entirely to visit and event management.

Please click on www.capital-concierge.ca to check it out.

You will hopefully be hearing much more about it in the coming weeks and months, because it fills a need that is absolutely out there in a G-7 capital like Ottawa.

Canada’s international trade agreements give us unparalled market access but we’ve not yet exploited that fully. Capital Concierge can help.

We have more and more visitors coming to our city, and they’re looking to make the most of their time here. Capital Concierge can help.

Ottawa Tourism, Invest Ottawa, and the Shaw Centre have set out some laudable objectives with the Think Ottawa campaign. Capital Concierge can help.

And when you look at the luxury travel trends for 2020, they include personalization, learning from locals, up-skilling, and off-season surprises. Capital Concierge can help.

Capital Concierge by Winston Wilmont operates at the intersection of business and leisure travel.

It’s about customized itineraries and individual support to make the most out of every minute a traveller (and her/his co-travellers) will spend in our city.

It’s about connecting visiting business travellers with potential clients, policy- and law-makers, and other stakeholders to deepen relationships and grow our economy.  

It’s about creating meaningful, authentic experiences whilst here, and memories that people will rave about once they’re home.

Working with visitors to meet their needs and wants, while also exposing them to experiences and opportunities they won’t get anywhere else…THAT is what it is all about.

Each traveller is different, and so our support to each with be different.

But the key takeaway is this: when it comes to making the most of a visit here, we’ve got your back.

The potential is enormous. A-ha moments await. Get in touch today.

On media relations & issues management: We've got your back

Not long ago, an acquaintance of mine was having a really bad week. Likely the worst week of his professional life.

He had done some admittedly dumb stuff years ago. It was stuff he’d grown to regret because he had matured and he had long since changed his ways.

He had the benefit of hindsight, and he hoped his actions would stay in the past.

They didn’t.

Someone found out about them, told a competitor, and the competitor used that information to their advantage.

The competitor called a friendly reporter, and the reporter ran with the story. It was front page news and the news report said my acquaintance had refused to comment.

His side of the story, his regret, and the actions he had taken proactively and privately to make amends for something he felt genuinely bad about were nowhere to be found.

All that his local paper’s readers (many of whom were his customers) saw was what his competitor wanted them to see, along with quotes from people who were critical of actions he knew clearly were wrong.

When I asked him why he didn’t comment (or come to me sooner for advice), he said: “I was so embarrassed, I didn’t know what to say. And I didn’t want to say something that could make things worse. So, I chose not to say anything at all. I realize now that was the wrong call.”

(The harsh black and white of a newspaper can do wonders for realizations like that.)

Ultimately, we got his side of the story out, and people who were paying attention would have seen some of the things my acquaintance had done in an (honest and good faith) attempt to reconcile past actions he regretted.

But, invariably, some people who only saw that original report missed his side of things.

Those people’s views are likely forever coloured about my acquaintance and his business.

His experience, while cautionary, is not unique.

And simply hoping that something unflattering or inconvenient stays quiet is not a strategy.

Canada’s media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years.

Social media, of course, means any story – whether true or not – can go viral in mere minutes.

And traditional journalists are fewer in number and face greater demands than ever.

With tight deadlines, scarce resources, competing narratives, and fierce competition to get a story first – journalists today won’t necessarily wait for you to get your act together to respond.

When their call comes, you need to be ready.

And if something online puts your reputation at risk, you need to respond effectively.

After all, your brand – your reputation and how people feel about your organization – is your greatest asset.

That’s where we come in.

We understand the needs and realities of journalists today, and we’ve been on the receiving end of breathless and urgent media calls.

We’ve turned the temperature down on simmering issues just as they threatened to boil over publicly.

We’ve helped guide organizations of all sizes and across sectors through challenges to their organizational integrity.

We’re ready to put that experience to work for you.

People deserve to hear your side of every story that affects you.

They deserve to have the facts at hand so they can share the truth within their own networks.

They need to hear from you directly so they can support you going forward.

We have more than decade of high-level crisis communications leadership and support.

We can help you avoid spin, tell your truth, and be your authentic self as you fight to preserve your reputation.

Investments in issues management will help you protect your greatest asset.

And because the best issues management happens well before a crisis hits, we can help prepare you and your organization for *if and when* things go wrong.

We offer bilingual media relations training to help you get through critical interviews and thrive in scrums.

We can also help you weather those toughest of times with strategies and tactics tailored to you.

When it matters most, we’ve got your back.

Make the bad weeks better. Let’s discuss how we can help. Get in touch today.

On Advocacy: We've got your back

Letting you in on a little secret: Our president, Chris, hates braggards…and he isn’t terribly good at talking himself up.

He’s always preferred – and excelled at –telling others’ stories.

He loves rallying people to a cause. Moving people to act.

He’s great at connecting people and opportunities.

In other words, advocacy is his jam. And Winston Wilmont delivers real results.

In an era, where public trust in companies, governments, and other organizations is on the decline, you need all the supporters you can get in your corner.

You need a coalition of backers that are there for you – ones that will be for the long run.

We spark conversations, connect dots, get others to care about what you have to offer, and help you close the deal.

We make your looking good look effortless.

We know what goes into business and public policy decisions.

We get who needs to be on-side and can help you get them there.

We can guide you through complex procedural, legislative, and regulatory hoops.

We maximize your advocacy efforts and respect every dollar you put in.

After all, we’ve been on both sides of the table. We can see things from all angles. We’ll craft advocacy strategies and campaigns that help you win.

We’re like water through rock. (That’s what our ‘double W’ logo is all about.) We find a way…for you.

Whether it’s working with investors, governments, media, or some other group, we believe the secret to doing well is doing good.

If you agree, we’re on your side. We’ve got your back.

We’ll do your business development – or complement the work of your in-house team.

We’ll work to secure the resources you need to grow and thrive.

We’ll help you clear barriers that trip other organizations up.

If you are looking to get to the next level, get in touch today.