Robin Sears and Brad Lavigne are spending an unusual amount of time in Alberta these days. Two of the handful of New Democrats in Ottawa’s lobbying business have found their services to be in high demand out West since Rachel Notley’s NDP won a surprise majority government in Alberta on May 5. While businesses can disagree on how much hand-wringing the NDP government should inspire, and how much of a threat it poses to Alberta’s oil patch and broader economy, the surprise majority government win is the worst nightmare for a lobbying community that’s been dealing with the same government for 44 years, in a province that’s also been electing federal Conservatives almost exclusively for just as long. “I don’t want to be too dramatic but it is almost explosive in the sense that everybody is now casting about for somebody to talk to, somebody in this government, because they don’t know many of the people,” said Mr. Sears, a principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group with decades of NDP experience. His “orange credentials” had him travelling to the province last week for various briefings and one-on-one sessions with clients. “I’m sure they’ll be scrambling around to find somebody to hire,” he said of Alberta-based firms. “But I think initially most of the big clients are just going to try and find access to people who can answer questions for them about what they should be doing, what they shouldn’t be doing, what they can expect in the short term.” Hugh McFadyen, one of the few lobbyists based in Alberta with NDP experience, has seen a “steady roadshow” since early in the morning on May 6. “My phone started ringing at five o’clock and it’s been unrelenting ever since,” he said in an interview. Mr. McFadyen, a principal at DFH Public Affairs in Calgary, was leader of the opposition in Manitoba opposite NDP Premier Gary Doer and served as chief of staff to former premier Gary Filmon. In both roles he got to know the members of the Doer NDP transition team and staff. From that group he has recruited some new NDP talent: Rory Henry, the secretary to Cabinet for policy in the Doer government and the premier’s director of legislative affairs who is now at the University of Manitoba; and Maeghan Dewar, director of issues management in Doer’s office who also worked on Jack Layton’s federal campaign and in Greg Selinger’s Manitoba government. The two additions can provide valuable insight into Mr. Doer’s governing , which Mr. McFadyen said he expects Ms. Notley to follow. Lobbyists are busy figuring out how much the game has changed and how to communicate with this strange new orange entity in Edmonton. This will eventually mean staffing changes, with consulting firms and even some in-house corporations entering what one consultant called a “buying season,” looking to scoop up NDP staffers to help them build relationships, but that will likely come after Ms. Notley has named her Cabinet and all of her senior advisers. Last week she announced that Brian Topp, the former federal NDP president and a deputy chief of staff to former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, would be her chief of staff, and Adrienne King, who had been in that role, would be the deputy. Mr. Romanow is on her transition team. Until other major appointments are made, companies are looking for input where they can find it and adjusting their approach. “I wouldn’t say that there’s headhunting yet,” said Michele Austin, a senior adviser at Summa Strategies and a Wildrose Party activist. Businesses are coming to Summa, which has two former NDP staffers—Robin MacLachlan and Shay Purdy—for what she called “interpretive services: understanding when the NDP says something, what it means.” Morten Paulsen, a principal at Paulson Group External Relations in Calgary, said the change in government would mean a lobbying shift from a “relational” to a “transactional” approach. “Corporations and individual lobbyists have relied on long-standing and deep relationships in government and the civil service to open doors to ensure access and to ensure that their clients or corporate agendas could be heard and considered,” he told The Hill Times. “Those relationships are gone. New relationships will have to be developed. But in the interim, what this new government is going to be looking for are corporations that can make a persuasive case on individual files, that that individual case has benefit to the province and aligns with the NDP agenda.” Lobbyists will also have to consider whom, beyond the traditional stakeholders, the new government will be listening to, said Doug Noble, vice-president for Western Canada at Global Public Affairs in Edmonton. “A new administration is going to look to hear different voices and to get other inputs, so the key then is a sound strategy has got to reflect that: you’ve got to understand who else a government may be listening to that may or may not be different than what they’ve listened to before, and you’ve got to take a look at some of those other voices and do your due diligence,” he said in an interview. Alan Ross, a partner at Borden Ladner Gervais in Calgary who formerly served as the Alberta government’s representative in Ottawa, said with a fresh crop of MLAs, the public service would probably be relied upon heavily in the early going. Ms. Notley announced last week that she would be keeping Richard Dicerni—a former deputy minister at the federal level that Mr. Prentice named as Alberta’s top public servant—in his top role. “I think the business community and the government relations community generally sort of took a look after the election and the first thing they said was, ‘Who do we know?’” Mr. Ross said in an interview. But after 44 years of PC rule, the business, GR and policy worlds “really didn’t know a whole lot of people in the provincial NDP.” New Democrats on the ground in the province will be looking to join the government, staffing the leader’s and the ministers’ offices, so firms may be looking to other provinces that have had NDP governments—B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, even Nova Scotia—as well as to Ottawa for staffing help. “It’s already begun,” Ms. Austin said. “Proposals and conversations have happened. But right now it’s a bit of a stopgap approach. People are saying ‘First of all can you help us interpret this?’ They’re kind of still in shock. They don’t realize this is a permanent change so I think they’re going to try and figure out if they have the in-house capability and if not, they’re going to bring people on long-term.” The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers announced last week that it was forming an industry group to work with the Notley government. “Albertans voted for change and we are prepared to work with the new government to explore and embrace the best change possible,” CAPP president Tim McMillan said in a news release. Mr. Lavigne said the election reinforces how important it is for businesses not to put all their eggs in one basket. “Making sure you’ve got relationships with a variety of political parties makes good business sense. That’s the lesson from the Alberta election,” he said in an interview. One consultant speaking on background said the Alberta result could affect how Ottawa firms prepare for the fall election, with some perhaps looking to get New Democrats on staff before the vote in case of any similar surprises. firstname.lastname@example.org The Hill Times Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Hugh McFadyen's background. Mr. McFadyen's experience with the Manitoba NDP comes from working across the aisle as a Progressive Conservative chief of staff and leader. We regret the error.