Developing Our Policy Ears in 2023

Regs to Riches | | Dec 26, 2022

Do you hear what i hear - Developing Our Policy Ears in 2023One of the biggest challenges for policy people is developing their (our!) policy ears. 

  • A crucial part of our work is reliant on our ability to listen to the pain points and frustrations that people are experiencing and map them back onto regulatory realities; re-articulating the problem in an appropriate policy context. But no one ever really tells you that, because we like to pretend that intellectual work is literal when it’s often figurative. I think that the sources that policy prioritisation seems to have become dependent on are seriously impeding that ability.
  • Let’s face it: everyday people just do not use the wonky terms that we revel in.
    • Over the past two years, as I have championed the merits of competition reform, I have become convinced that people talk about competition policy ALL the time - they just never use those words.

See:  ISED Launches Competition Act Review: Consultation on the Future of Competition Policy in Canada

  • More bubble bursting: on top of that, most people see government(s) as “the government,” and could care less about the organisational divisions we relate to across orders of government and ministries. They see problems and want a solution, while we wring our hands over “who” should lead the file.
    • It’s probably even thornier from a small business perspective, where entrepreneurs are saddled with the imperative of taking their personal case studies and abstracting those to a specific policy change, which is no mean feat.
    • An additional force acting out against individual firms articulating their needs is the fear of speaking out that is common in concentrating industries or simply anywhere that a significant power balance exists. This “FOSO” was well-covered in the AELP report, “The Other Red Tape,” and no, there is not a Canadian version of this report because Canada.

See:  Monopoly-Friendly Canada ‘Does Not Treat Competition Policy Seriously’

  • Alternative approach: Maybe we need to get over ourselves a little bit, and lean in a little more to the all-of-government approach we see proceeding with some success in the US as it relates to competition.
    • That isn’t to suggest that the art of policymaking becomes a total free-for-all, but perhaps more of an invitation model could help us move farther, faster on key items. Policy teams need the freedom to lead while inviting support from relevant ministries and peers.
    • Tilting towards more of a ‘champions’ model would allow us to more closely mimic the policy experimentation that we expect to see in our federated model.

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