Peter J. Boettke (right), University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, and Mathieu Bédard, and economist at MEI, gives a presentation on "How to Encourage Business Creation in Canada."
The Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), an Atlas Network partner based in Quebec, has traditionally released high-quality, research-heavy publications to promote free market solutions in Canada. While this method certainly has seen tremendous success in advocating for beneficial polices, MEI has recognized the potential of reaching a broader audience with a more rapid response to current events. To accomplish this goal, MEI has recently created a Department of Current Affairs. Its role is to produce valuable content in a timely manner, responding to the top economic and political stories of the day.
“This operational change has allowed us to exceed our previous achievements in terms of outreach, making sure that sound economic arguments are heard more often and more systematically before public opinion has had a chance to crystalize one way or another,” said Jasmin Guénette, MEI’s vice president of operations.
MEI has seen high levels of success after establishing the new department. In 2016, it received 8,073 total media mentions, averaging 22 mentions per day, a stunning 86 percent increase from 2015. The content of the department has been picked up by Canada’s top news websites, newspapers, radio shows, and TV stations. Through these outlets, a significantly larger portion of the population has had exposure to MEI’s work.
“The goal is to make sure that the media community convey our message and that the general public understand and appreciate more and more free-market solutions to current policy challenges,” continued Guénette. “We are also meeting with key stakeholders in various settings, in a non-partisan matter, to explain our work and propositions, and to help them to come to appreciate our solutions. We use social media to help generate popular acceptance of our different positions and policy proposals, and also to help disseminate our work and proposition on multiple platforms and different audience.”
Since the introduction of the Department of Current Affairs, MEI has seen tremendous increases in media mentions and social media following.
As a testament to the effect the Department of Current Affairs has had on the citizens of Canada, MEI has pointed out some policies for which it was extremely influential in passing. These include allowing Uber to be used legally, saving Montreal tax payers by allowing the hiring of trained civilians as traffic directors rather than police agents, stopping the introduction of a fixed book price policy that would have increased book prices, and introducing activity-based funding for hospitals in Quebec to increase the level of competition.
“Also important is the fact that we do not settle for preaching to the choir, nor do we speak only to an elite of policy wonks using jargon-filled prose,” continued Guénette. “Instead, we write using clear language, and we do everything in our power to reach the widest possible audience. Through a variety of media outlets we reach out on a regular basis to people who do not necessarily already agree with us regarding the benefits of economic freedom.”
There is an appetite in Canada’s media for free-market approaches to the pressing issues of the times. MEI and its Department of Current Affairs have proven willing and able to fill that void, improving the lives of fellow Canadians.
“This department has changed the dynamic within the Montreal Economics Institute and refocused us on the here and now, allowing us to be a lot more responsive to economic and public policy debates while they are taking place, and strike while the iron is hot,” continued Guénette. “The MEI’s success can be seen not just from the numbers presented above, but more qualitatively as well: from the fact that 9 times out of 10, our media coverage is either positive or neutral; from the fact that our expertise is more in demand than ever from a wide range of media outlets; from the fact that policy-makers are coming around on issues we have been hammering away at such as pipelines and public finances; and from certain public officials’ recognition of the important work we do giving them the breathing room they need in order to enact more economically sound policies.