Stikeman Elliott
Government & Constitutional
Government Relations

Stikeman Elliott can clearly and strategically integrate government relations and public relations on behalf of our clients. Canadian and international corporations and foreign law firms frequently seek our counsel on high-profile domestic and international transactions in which coordinated resolution of regulatory issues is critical. We have access to decision-makers at various levels of federal, provincial and municipal government and are consistently able to secure the appropriate audience for our clients.

From our involvement in the highest profile foreign investment matters - such as CNOOC-Nexen and the defence of the Potash take-over - and acting for and opposite governmental authorities in governance and legislative initiatives, to our representation of clients before governmental commissions, securities, competition and telecommunications regulators, and other administrative bodies, Stikeman Elliott fields the most diverse, deep and dialed-in team of regulatory experts. We offer considerable advantage to our clients through our knowledge of and access to the players in multiple sectors and our ability to review a situation to assemble the right resources, including outside government relations and media consultants, and develop a strategic way forward.

Our Unique Value

  • Track record of success - We are able to position a transaction advantageously when under review by regulators, as well structure transactions in a manner that anticipates objection, proposed undertakings and regulatory and political risk. This strategic alignment enables transactions we work on to proceed smoothly.

  • Keyed into government -With a strong presence in Ottawa, Stikeman Elliott maintains a healthy relationship with key players in the Government of Canada. We frequently liaise with officials of the Competition Bureau, Investment Canada, the Department of Finance, the Department of Justice, CRTC, Transport Canada and other important government departments and agencies, giving us differentiated perspective and an on-the-ground presence where it counts. We also enjoy tremendous relationships with provincial regulators in securities, environment, financial services, energy and healthcare, as well as a wide range of municipal authorities.

  • Strategic relationship management - Because of our knowledge and access, we know the political/stakeholder landscape and offer perspective in managing interaction with governmental stakeholders and multiple constituents. We are equally comfortable working as a client's primary advisor in this area, or as complement to a lead public affairs advisor.

  • Network - A number of our partners have a historical and continuing connection with government, regulatory agencies and the Canadian legislative process, and we count several former high level bureaucrats within our ranks. The Group's extensive experience as counsel on major multinational transactions allows members to work closely and effectively with attorneys in the Canadian, European, U.S. and Pacific Rim offices of Stikeman Elliott, and with colleagues in leading U.S., European and Asian law firms.

Areas of Expertise

Our in-house expertise extends to a wide variety of areas impacted by government relations considerations, including:

  • publicly sensitive mergers and acquisitions;
  • competition/antitrust matters;
  • foreign investment transactions;
  • corporate governance and securities law matters;
  • energy regulation and policy; 
  • financial services regulation and policy;
  • procurement and government contracting matters;
  • public-private partnerships;
  • telecommunications regulation and policy;
  • municipal law and planning approvals;
  • tax matters and disputes;
  • healthcare licensing matters; and
  • maritime and transportation matters.

We are also trusted counsel to various levels of government across Canada. Among recent matters:

  • We led the task force advising the federal government in its current effort to nationalize securities legislation

  • We advised the Ontario government's Market Design Committee on the deregulation of the province's electricity market.

  • We have acted for Infrastructure Ontario and the Ministry of Transportation in a range of matters including the development of the Windsor-Essex Parkway and negotiations related to the Ring of Fire development project.

  • We have acted for the Government of British Columbia in the creation of numerous treaties with First Nations in the province.

Our level of involvement with federal, provincial and municipal governments and quasi-governmental bodies enables us to forge relationships with policy-makers and key influencers, and to facilitate dialogue between those individuals and our private sector clients, when appropriate.

Foreign Investment Regulatory

Our firm has been on both sides of transactions involving foreign investment review, acting for international clients seeking approval for transactions, and acting for Canadian clients seeking to defend against hostile take-over bids. Our work on the headline-making CNOOC-Nexen transaction and for Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan in its take-over defence were easily the most prominent foreign investment matters in Canada in recent years, with CNOOC being the last transaction approved prior to the Canadian government's amended approach to foreign investment regulation for state-owned enterprises, and Potash marking only the second time in 25 years a transaction has been rejected under foreign investment regulation.

Representative Services

We strive to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship between our clients and the government based on our extensive knowledge of current policy and regulatory environments and on our ability to foresee how changes in these areas will positively or negatively impact on our clients. Services we provide include:

  • Government issue advocacy;
  • Alternative dispute resolution and mediation;
  • Public consultations, facilitation and consensus building;
  • Second opinions, assessments and evaluations;
  • Selection of outside counsel, including public and media relations consultants and lobbyists;
  • Overseas legal, judicial and policy reform; and
  • Public policy research, analysis and development.

In addition, we ensure that our clients are kept abreast of important legislative developments and have the benefit of the insights of those members of the firm who have direct experience with the legislative and regulatory processes in Canada. We frequently assist clients making written or verbal submissions with respect to proposed or existing legislation and can help ensure clients have access to relevant committees, legislators and bureaucrats in Ottawa, provincial capitals and municipalities across Canada.

To the extent external lobbying efforts are required on behalf of our clients, we have relationships with Canada's top firms and individuals and we are able to quickly mobilize any resources required.

Our Team

The historical and continuing connection of a number of our partners with governmental and regulatory agencies, and in the Canadian legislative process, adds an important additional dimension to the services we offer. We count several former high level bureaucrats within our ranks, including:

  • William Braithwaite - A member of the Senior Securities Legal Advisory Group to the Ontario Securities Commission and a past chairman of the Advisory Committee of the OSC

  • Paul Collins - former Senior Deputy Commissioner, Mergers Branch, Competition Bureau Canada

  • David Elder - former Vice President, Regulatory Law and Privacy Ombudsman with Bell Canada, and former counsel to the CRTC

  • William (Bill) Fox - former Executive Vice-President, Communications and Corporate Development at Bell Canada Enterprise; former Senior Vice-President, Public Affairs at Bombardier Inc., and CN; and former Press Secretary and Director of Communications to the Prime Minister of Canada

  • Lawson Hunter - the former Commissioner of Competition and Assistant Deputy Minister at Industry Canada, and head of regulatory and government affairs for Bell Canada Enterprises

  • Keith Miller - former counsel to the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board

  • Simon Romano - former Special Counsel to the Ontario Securities Commission

  • Edward Waitzer - former Chair of the Ontario Securities Commission and Chair of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario

  • Jonathan Drance - served on the Board of BC Hydro from 2008 to 2010

  • Multiple members of our firm have had terms on the advisory committees of provincial securities regulators in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia

Related Practices
Key Contacts

Broadcasting & Telecommunications
David B. Elder

Paul Collins
Katherine L. Kay
Lawson AW Hunter
Susan M. Hutton
Jeffrey Brown

Jonathan Drance
Jim Harbell
Erik Richer La Flèche

Jim Harbell

Financial Services
Marc B. Barbeau
Peter E. Hamilton

Erik Richer La Flèche
Dana Porter

Intellectual Property
Justine M. Whitehead 

Regulatory & Public Policy
Lawson AW Hunter

John F. Anderson
William J. Braithwaite
Jonathan Drance
Jean Marc Huot
Christopher W. Nixon
Simon A. Romano
André J. Roy
Edward J. Waitzer

Jean-Guillaume Shooner

Related Publications