Argyle and Tact jointly launch new Ottawa government relations venture

David Gourlay
David Gourlay is vice-president of public affairs at Argyle Public Relationships

In an effort to offer more bilingual services, Argyle Public Relationships has partnered with Tact Intelligence-Conseil to create a new firm providing public and government relations in the National Capital Region.

Argyle Tact Public Affairs is not a merger of the two companies, and will not affect the two companies’ activities in other cities across Canada. Rather, the new firm will focus specifically on government relations, digital advocacy and corporate communications in Ottawa.

The move comes as government relations firms say they’re adjusting to a new federal landscape – and new ways of doing business – as the Trudeau government settles into its second year in power.

Three local employees will start the firm, but they will receive support from the 90 employees across the country between Toronto-based Argyle and Quebec-based Tact. Argyle first set up its Ottawa office in 2014.

Argyle’s David Gourlay, who is also well-known locally as the owner of the Ottawa Champions baseball team, will take the mound as general manager at the new outfit, joined by Tact’s Yan Plante.

The new role for Mr. Gourlay, who is also a past recipient of a Forty Under 40 award, follows a political career that spanned nearly two decades and included time as an advisor to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

The new general manager says the two companies have worked closely with each other for years, and that this partnership allows for the firms’ French and English backgrounds to complement one another.

“This is an opportunity for us to have a francophone presence and a very bilingual identity, and for Tact to have an anglophone presence,” Mr. Gourlay tells OBJ, noting that public sector activity is increasingly integrated across regions and levels of government.

“I think the landscape has absolutely changed.”

Mr. Gourlay says that the transition to the Trudeau government from nearly a decade under the Stephen Harper’s Conservatives has been revitalizing for government relations work. A commitment to transparency and openness in decision-making has led to an overhaul not only of public sector staff but of attitudes towards public relations professionals. He says the people he works with today are more interested in learning about his clients’ needs than ever before.

“I think the landscape has absolutely changed.”

In a statement, Argyle says the partnership will allow it to serve its clients better, and promote both firms’ clients’ government-relations mandates.

“Argyle Tact will bring clients the best of both worlds: the senior-level counsel, service and value of a boutique Ottawa firm, backed by the reach and resources of two of Canada's largest independent communications agencies,” said Daniel Tisch, Argyle president and CEO, in a statement.

“Argyle has a solid foundation in Ottawa, and we're excited to take another big step to help build our clients' public relationships – in both languages, in Canada's capital, and across the nation.”