From time to time and particularly during the heat of an election, (which seems to be a annual affair these days) the Chamber gets called out by someone or some group proclaiming that by getting behind their candidate or their party we (the Chamber) will be supporting better business growth, or a better economy, or a better quality of life, or all of the aforementioned.
Some have gone as far as to suggest that we have a responsibility to support their candidate or party. Well they would be wrong, in fact very wrong. Our sworn duty as a Chamber is to remain unwaveringly non-partisan, non political and absolutely neutral whereas political parties are concerned. What we are sworn to do is to work with the government(s) of the day regardless of political stripe.
In Hamilton earlier this month, the Chamber there got a taste of the media’s wrath and doubtless that of their business community as well when they sent an email blast out to their members with a strongly worded message gushingly inviting them to attend a $250 a plate fundraiser in support of Liberal MPP and Cabinet Minister Sophia Aggelonitis’s upcoming re-election bid. To add fuel to an already blazing fire, Aggelonitis is herself a Past President of the Hamilton Chamber.
While management there (and these are good people) scramble to minimize the impact, it’s probably too late – a bit like trying to take back a sneeze. They (management) claim it was all a big mistake, but I doubt anyone else will see it that way. Damage done!!
The London Chamber membership, and indeed members of all Chambers are better served by not focusing on the political parties or the candidates, but rather on those political issues that most dramatically impact our ability to compete within a global marketplace, to grow our businesses, to support our employees and their families, and to ensure that we have an economic climate within which we can all prosper.
The London Chamber of Commerce acts as a unified voice for businesses of all sizes and interests. Active locally, provincially and nationally, the Chamber does not receive any government funding, making it the only truly independent business advocacy organization in London. This absence of government funding allows the Chamber to advocate solely on behalf of its members and not subject to influence or opinion.
To stray away from that mandate of independence would threaten the Chamber’s reputation along with its effectiveness in advocating on behalf of its members and the wider business community. Furthermore, if we were to take a stand in support of a candidate or a party, we would absolutely alienate the other half of our membership who would never stand by while we trot out our support for candidate X or party Y. And while voters express their displeasure with their feet, I suspect our members would demonstrate their displeasure with their cheques……………..correction, cancelled cheques.