CDA organized a government relations training session for the provincial dental associations, held in Winnipeg in November 2011. The event featured guest presentations and lively panel discussions on advocacy strategies, tactics and best practices.

Topics covered in the presentations included how to effectively lobby public policy decision makers, how to encourage grassroots engagement among your membership and how media relations can support government relations activities. The keynote luncheon address was delivered by Nik Nanos, president and CEO of Nanos Research, on how public opinion research can support government relations activities.

In an interesting twist, CDA invited 2 former members of Parliament to discuss how lobbying appears from the other side of the table. Bill Blaikie, the long-serving NDP MP for Elmwood-Transcona in Manitoba, and Inky Mark, former Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River- Marquette, Manitoba, gave their perspectives on how best to make compelling arguments.

Some of the top tips for effective advocacy were to make the issue personal and local, to be passionate about the issue and, most importantly, to bring forward viable solutions rather than focusing on problems or complaints.