Why does it pay more to succeed Harry Near and Co. than to be Harry Near and Co.? As attendees of Earnscliffe Strategy Group’s 25th anniversary celebration on Oct. 15 learned, it’s the younger generation, the new pillars of public policy that the founding partners have built the company upon, that will propel one of the country’s leading lobby firms into the next 25 years of business. The twist on former Brian Mulroney-era Cabinet minister Harvie Andre’s infamous quote “Why does it pay to more to know Harvie Andre than to be Harvie Andre?” came from Master of Massey College, retired Conservative Senator and Earnscliffe co-founder who played a key role in establishing the firm, Hugh Segal, who had the crowd half-laughing and half-repeating the joke in unison. He recalled the early days, beginning from scratch, meaning “you scratch mine, I’ll scratch yours.” He also joked about the grief they’ve received over the years from the British High commissioner whose official residence in Ottawa is also called Earnscliffe and once the home of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. The most memorable portion of the evening was hearing from the founders of the consulting firm. As 250 friends, clients, colleagues, politicos, and media crammed into the tri-floor reception at Earnscliffe’s offices inside the historic Chambers building, one couldn’t help but think about all the key Canadian political players that have walked the hallways over the last 25 years, the late-night strategy and cigar-smoking sessions, and the early-morning policy preparations. All speakers talked about the importance of remembering that while politicians come and go, they aren’t fundamental to the policy process, and that an excellent public service, strategy and public opinion aren’t dependent on who is in power. Reiterated many times as well was how collegial and fun the firm family is to work with, as they’ve passed through various governments and economic times. There was also a forward-looking excitement about the next generation that has joined the company in the last couple of years, including two Western partners: Kaveri Braid, who leads the Saskatchewan practice, and Bruce Young, who headed up the B.C. firm, both of whom spoke about their experiences joining Earnscliffe. Founding fathers Harry Near, Mike Robinson, and Bill Fox also addressed the crowd. Mr. Fox closed the speeches with words on the intersection of friendship and business embodied within Earnscliffe. Attendees were then encouraged to “eat, drink, and be merry,” in whichever order they saw fit. The guest list included top political players from Ottawa and beyond. Mixed throughout the crowd was Earnscliffe’s entire team from the Ottawa, Toronto, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia offices: André Albinati, Elly Alboim, André Bachand, Yaroslav Baran, Daniel Bernier, Kaveri Braid, Charles Bird, Michael Drummond, Allan Gregg, Peter Harris, Shannon Harris, Adam Johnson, Brittney Kerr, Ken Mackay, Velma McColl, Marcella Munro, Harry Near, Geoff Norquay, Tom Olsen, Doug Richardson, Mike Robinson, Robin Sears, Don Stickney, Tom Sweeting, Tom Trbovich, John Whitehead, Greg Wilkinson and Bruce Young. Representing the Parliamentary Press Gallery were Paul Vieira of The Wall Street Journal; Greg Quinn, Theo Argitis and Andrew Mayeda from Bloomberg; Postmedia News reporter and columnist Stephen Maher; CTV’s Don Martin and Alyson Fair; The Canadian Press bureau chief Heather Scoffield; iPolitics’ Elizabeth Thompson and Cynthia Münster; The Hill Times’ Kate Malloy, Mark Burgess, Bea Vongdouangchanh, and yours truly; and The Lobby Monitor’s Yael Berger. Among the politicos and staffers were former prime minister Joe Clark; Minister of Labour and Status of Women Kellie Leitch; Ian Benson of DFATD; Jodi White, the chief of staff to former prime minister Kim Campbell; and Earnscliffe alumnus and Abacus Data chairman Bruce Anderson. Also spotted mixing and mingling with Hill power players were a generous helping of other government relations experts, including CIBC’s Michel Liboiron; Jason Kerr of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada; Shaw Communications’ Jim Patrick; Elizabeth Roscoe of Hill and Knowlton; Canada 20/20 board member David McLaughlin; MDA’s Leslie Swartman; Public Affairs Council’s Isabel Metcalfe; the Canadian Electricity Association’s Geoff Smith; Daniel Rogers with the Canadian Fertilizer Institute; Phil Cartwright of Global Public Affairs; Chris Dodd of Comm Dev; Railway Association of Canada president and CEO Michael Bourque; and Sean Moore, founder and principal of the Advocacy School. Other attendees included Pundits Guide’s Alice Funke and design consultant Kelly Mounce. As the company has grown, so too have its consultants’ appetites for the finer foods, as noted in their evolution from lunches at Mama Theresa’s to the Métropolitian, otherwise known as their cafeteria. Catering the event was Tulips and Maple, an Ottawa catering company whose menu for the evening was a fun but sophisticated combination of eats, including champagne for those feeling especially celebratory. Of note, tucked away in one of the corner rooms on the third floor of their offices was an impressive spread of seafood-inspired snacks, including Atlantic lobster maki, Asian vegetable spring rolls served with pear butter, a surf and turf jumbo coconut shrimp with a slice of New York steak, and an Albacore tuna citrus crudo served on a silver spoon stacked display. The Hill Times also caught wind of a doughnut station serving up made-to-munch mini maple bacon doughnuts, just in time to pack away a few before the crowd dissipated down the street. To keep the party going, the Earnscliffe team moved everyone down Elgin street to Izakaya, a Japanese pub and sushi bar, with a shuttle bus. The Hill Times heard that the afterparty of around 100 people lasted well into the wee hours, before the entire Earnscliffe team got up early for a company-wide corporate retreat at the Fairmont Chateau Montebello.