If there are two things that I consistently hear around Queen’s Park it’s that Howard Brown (of Brown & Cohen) is everywhere and Professional Engineers of Ontario throw a darn good reception.
Our ten months at Queen’s Park certainly proved both to be true as we became well-acquainted with Mr. Brown and had the pleasure of attending PEO’s fall reception early on in our tenure at the Pink Palace. That in mind, our meeting with Jeannette Chau of PEO, and Howard Brown and Blake Keidan of Brown & Cohen, was more like a meeting of good friends than our typical sponsor-catch up sort of deal. That’s not to say we didn’t learn a lot, as the opposite is true. Jeannette quickly took us through a bit of PEO’s history and mandate, culminating in their realization roughly a decade ago that they needed to build government relations capacity to get engineers into policy-making. Partnering with Brown & Cohen, PEO established the Government Liaison Program (GLP), a highly successful initiative to bring information and engagement to Queen’s Park and ensure decision-makers are well-informed of the work of engineers and how their industry functions. The GLP quickly expanded with local chapters across the province and started finding innovative ways to bring politics into a historically insular industry. From “take your MPP to work” days, to invitations to town halls and chapter meetings, PEO is a government relations success story, going from relatively unknown in political circles to being a widely recognized stakeholder at Queen’s Park.
After our brief information session, we took a whirlwind tour around the building to see where it all happens. Interestingly to the aspiring lawyers of our cohort, PEO (like other self-regulated professions) has an internal arbitration system for its members, all ran out of their Toronto office, complete with a court-styled hearing room. We also enjoyed some great conversation over lunch graciously provided by our hosts and discussed the recent happenings at the Legislature as well as our future plans with our expiration date not so far off.
Thank you to Jeannette, Howard, and Blake for showing us the inner workings of PEO and for your excellent advocacy for engineers in Ontario. We hope to see more engineers taking up political positions in the future following the work you’ve done to pave the way!