Are they in need of political hacks in Canada?
August 3, 2006 9:38 PM   Subscribe

How's the market for mid-level political professions in Canada? I'm hoping to emigrate from the US and politics is about all that I do.
posted by willie11 to Society & Culture (6 answers total)
FWIW, BC just gave massive raises to top level bureaucrats because of the problems with the private sector hiring them away.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:03 PM on August 3, 2006

I'm most interested in working on the campaign side of politics. Campaign managers, fundraising, media & communication, grassroots, etc...

For better or worse, do Canadian campaigns rely upon political professionals, rather than beurocrats, as much as American campaigns?
posted by willie11 at 10:14 PM on August 3, 2006

Others who know better will surely chime in sometime. As a prod to them, and as something in the meanwhile:

I suspect you will find that an awful lot that's done by campaign staff hired by the candidate in US races is handled through the party in Canada.

As a frinstance, I happened to be around for most of the last (con)federal legislative election campaign. I did not see or hear a single, solitary commercial for any candidate, only commercials aired by the party featuring the party leader.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:14 PM on August 3, 2006

Most individual candidates in federal and provincial elections only have a couple of full-time paid staff for the duration of the campaign, and the pay is not good. You'd need to get a job with a major provincial or federal party, and there aren't a lot of full-time positions. Fundraising in Canada isn't as big as in the US. For example, only a couple of the candidates running for the Liberal leadership have more than $100K in total contributions to this date, and only a couple of the candidates have received contributions from more than 100 sources.

Once an election is underway, campaign staff are drawn from the party staff ranks. Again, there aren't a lot of full-time jobs in the party. You can expect to have to join a party, volunteer for a few years, get your name known, and then hope to find a low-paying entry-level party flack job (communications assistant or the like). And as a foreigner, you're going to have to work doubly hard.

I am very familiar with BC politics and the party staffing. You will not find a single legislative assistant, ministerial assistant, constituency assistant, caucus researcher or communications coordinator with less than five years of party membership and all of those years will have been spent working for the party, for free, for many hours a week in addition to whatever job they held at the time.

These jobs are not advertised and are filled via Order-in-Council (essentially, by fiat). You will only get one of those jobs by knowing someone.

An upper-level bureaucrat like a Deputy Minister or Assistant Deputy Minister will typically be a person who has a great deal of bureaucratic experience in their field, although that person may not be a party member; such people often keep their jobs when a government changes, and they seldom get involved in campaigns. A Deputy Health Minister may be a doctor or hospital administrator with 20 or more years of experience in that field. Seldom are deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers hired from their staff. If you get an advertised job for (say) a communications manager for the Ministry of Advanced Education, you may one day be promoted to Director, but you will probably never be promoted to ADM. That position is still a political position and you will be expected to push the party line, although you need not be a member of the party. And such a job, even if you are a party member, is not lateral to a communications manager job in the party itself.

You have to be very dedicated to get a job in the partisan political bureaucracy in Canada.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:38 PM on August 3, 2006 [2 favorites]

If you do indeed mean political staff jobs (as opposed to public service jobs), then solid-one-love nails it. Politics in Canada is a very closed shop, unless you are willing to start from the bottom. My experience is in Alberta, but the situation is quite similar at the federal level as well. Campaign periods here are fairly short, and there is not really a regular 'campaign cycle', so full-time campaign/fundraising staff jobs are exceedingly rare, and the US phenomenon of 'free agent' campaign professionals is virtually non-existent. Even political jobs on the government side (policy/communications) are relatively thin on the ground compared to the US. I would guess that the average US representative has as many staffers as most Canadian cabinet ministers.

Your experience and expertise may qualify you for a job with a lobbying/PR firm, though many of these are highly-partisan closed shops with relatively small staffs. Here are a few links in any case so you can get an idea what's out there:
Hill and Knowlton
National Public Relations
Media Profile
Here are some smaller but nevertheless influential shops:
S.A. Murray
Daisy Consulting Group
TDH Strategies
posted by Urban Hermit at 1:55 PM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Did you hear that...? It was the sound of my hopes and dreams... being crushed!

I suppose that I now have to develop some real skill if I ever hope to make it in the great white north, alas...

Thanks so much for the info and the links. I wouldn't have been able to find this kind of insight anywhere else. This is my first post and surely won't be my last.
posted by willie11 at 6:22 PM on August 4, 2006

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