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The Advocacy Process

At any given time there are a wide variety of projects or laws proposed or about to be implemented that can impact the way you do business and affect your long-term growth. The Chamber is an active advocate on behalf of its membership, helping to provide an effective voice for the business community before those decisions are finalized.
 
This page is designed to describe the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s advocacy process.

Criteria

In conjunction with stakeholders, The Chamber identifies the issues of concern to the business community and what action government must take to address the concern.

Issues must:

  • be of significance to The Chamber’s membership,
  • be a ‘business issue’
  • be timely, and
  • have a direct relationship to The Chamber’s vision, mission, values, goals and priorities.

Definitions

  • Policy refers to the positions defining problems and propose solutions that support The Chamber’s advocacy efforts. Policies are approved by The Chamber board and remain in effect until amended or revoked by The Chamber’s  Board. Advocacy-related policies are distinctly separate from operational policies, e.g. privacy policy.
  • Advocacy covers a broad range of activities, which may or may not, include lobbying. Advocacy is a system of actions directed at changing attitudes, policies, positions, practices or programs in society. Advocacy refers to any activity that attempts to change mainly government policy, and may include public attitudes and perceptions.
  • Lobbying is a subset of advocacy that aims to influence specific legislation. Almost all social change has started with non-lobbying advocacy and ended with major lobbying efforts. Examples include the protection of women’s rights and child labour laws. Each initially combined a broad spectrum of non-lobbying advocacy activities, with lobbying employed somewhat later to achieve the needed change.

Policy Development

Chamber policy is designed to represent business interests and to that end the recommendations are largely outcome-focused. Specific decision-making authorities/regulatory bodies are expected to create the detailed policy required to support their operations.

1. Policy Initiation

The Chamber’s Policy and Government Affairs Committee monitors business, economic and political environment to identify issues of interest to The Chamber and its member. The Committee will assess an existing or emerging issue to identify:

  • whether it fits with Chamber priorities,
  • whether it fits with existing Chamber policy,
  • whether it fits with business principles,
  • the scope of businesses affected,
  • opportunities for partner activity,
  • the complexity of the issue, and
  • the likelihood of success.

The Committee will develop and recommend to the Board a list of priorities for policy development/update at the start of the year. The Committee will also provide input during the policy development stage, e.g. potential solutions and their collateral effects, to identify the best solution for the business community, and review the draft policy prior to Board consideration.

2. Approval

Policies approved by the Board are kept in the electronic policy binder and posted to The Chamber website. The approval of policies will be listed as a motion in the board minutes.

3. Evalution

All policies are reviewed annually by the Policy and Government Affairs Committee and any updates approved by The Chamber’s Board. Policies remains in effect until amended or revoked by the Board of Directors, with successful policies of note shared under "Policies Achieved".

Advocacy

Once a policy is approved, The Chamber’s designated spokespeople will advocate that policy on behalf of the membership. Specific advocacy efforts will depend on the specifics of a policy and will relate to:

  • who is the decision making authority,
  • who are the affected stakeholders,
  • the anticipated public interest, and
  • partners in support of our position.

Advocacy activities include but are not limited to:

  • meetings with stakeholders and decision makers,
  • media relations,
  • distribution of communications products,
  • letter writing campaigns,
  • public/member information sessions, and
  • political candidate forums.

Lobbying

As defined by the BC Lobbyist Registration Act, lobbying is to communicate with a public office holder in an attempt to influence a range of activities, including:

  • the introduction, amendment, passage or defeat of any Bill or resolution in or before the Legislative Assembly,
  • the development or enactment of any regulation, including the enactment of a regulation for the purposes of amending or repealing a regulation,
  • the development, establishment, amendment or termination of any program, policy, directive or guideline of the government of British Columbia or a Provincial entity, and
  • to arrange a meeting between a public office holder and any other individual for the purposes of attempting to influence any of the above.

The BC Lobbyist Registration Act requires those who spends 100 hours or more a year lobbying to register with the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists for British Columbia. The Chamber CEO as well as the Manager of Policy and Public Affairs are registered as in-house lobbyists under the Act.

Summary

The policy development process is designed to identify issues of concern to the business community and allow for informed review and decision making by the Board of Directors.

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