DUC’s lead policy influencer talks about work as a lobbyist

Advocating for wetlands and waterfowl in Ottawa.

Jim Brennan helps safeguard wetlands by informing decision-makers in Ottawa, Ont. about the importance of protecting natural spaces for waterfowl, wildlife and people. © DUC

A few blocks from Parliament Hill, inside a corner office at 350 Sparks St., stacks of documents cover Jim Brennan’s desk.

“It’s a lot better than it was yesterday,” says Brennan a bit sheepishly. As head of government affairs at Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), and a registered federal lobbyist, one of Brennan’s key roles is to meet and speak with policymakers.

It’s a job that involves a lot of reading, preparing reports, and translating sometimes hard-to-grasp science into plain language. It’s also a position that regularly places Brennan in front of parliamentary committees, where he speaks on behalf of DUC about the importance of safeguarding our wetlands.

Being a policy influencer isn’t as swanky or glamorous, as Hollywood screenwriters would lead us to believe. However, it is important, says Brennan, who first discovered DUC as a volunteer.

Along with his colleagues in Ottawa, and DUC employees across the country, Brennan works to “identify public policy gaps or problems and develop strategies and messages to change them or fix them.”

The project he is proudest to have been a part of to date is the National Wetland Conservation Fund, which helps fund projects that protect, restore and maintain Canadian wetlands.

“It was an important development for Ducks Unlimited, and for all organizations that care about wetland habitat,” says Brennan, about the plan that was formed over a period of approximately three years by government policymakers, with input from experts and lobbyists.

While his work can be challenging, with results taking years to present themselves, the man who was voted one of Ottawa’s top 100 lobbyists in 2015, says the public is becoming increasingly aware of the valuable work being done by DUC volunteers and employees.

“People are becoming more appreciative and understanding of what wetlands do,” says Brennan, as he points to a map that illustrates how DUC’s work has helped protect and restore wetlands across the country since 1938.

Despite increasing public awareness both on Parliament Hill, and across the country, Brennan isn’t taking time to sit back.

“This type of work is a marathon, not a sprint,” he says. “We certainly have a lot of more work to do.”

Learn more about the key priorities Brennan, and fellow DUC employees will be focusing on in Ottawa.