My placements in Government and Opposition have been very different in a wide variety of different ways, but if I had to point to the one major difference that struck me from the very first day of my new placement it would have to be the difference in pace. Things move quickly in an opposition office.
This should not be surprising in and of itself. In my placement with Helena Jaczek I was called upon to perform a wide variety of different tasks but the time between my recieving an assignment and my having the deliverable prepared was always very reasonable. This is the way of a government office, especially when it comes to communications. A government MPP can’t afford to behave or react in a knee-jerk kind of way. Public statements have to be in some sense reserved, deliberate, and well within party messaging. This kind of behaviour is possible for government MPPs in a majority government because party obligations can be spread out over a larger number of employees and because to a certain extent the government can rely on party-generated messaging to deal with particular issues and scenarios. These traits provide a comparative advantage to government MPPs and their staff giving them more time to research and deliberate on public statements or private member’s projects.
Things in opposition are much more hectic. Opposition members and their staff are made to do more with less as a result of their comparative lack of resources and this is reflected in the pace of work in an opposition office. I would say that this is definitely the case in my own office. John O’Toole, in whose office I am now placed, speaks on just about every Bill that comes through this place. It has become my job to ensure that Mr. O’Toole is briefed on the nature and intent of any Bill that comes through the House at any given time as well as any weaknesses it might have. You can imagine that this can be a little overwhelming. It isn’t a task that lends itself to much thoughtful deliberation or review. But it is also incredibly rewarding to run that briefing note to the House – even if it doesn’t get used – knowing that you were able to pick up the pace and step up to the challenge.