As surely as The Mary Tyler Moore Show begat Rhoda and Phyllis, television spin-off mentality has hit the behindclosed-doors world of lobbying. With a volley of rhetoric in Calgary and a flurry of meetings in Ottawa, the Canadian Organization of Small Business (COSB) was launched last week and more than half the founding 40 are former staffers of John Bulloch’s eight-year-old Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). While cosb's stated aim is to tame Revenue Canada and save the small-business tax rate for owner-managers, the unstated aim is to
compete for membership dollars with the 55,000-member CFIB. "I give John full credit for raising small business as an issue," says COSB Executive Vice-President Jim Conrad. “But no matter how good someone is, you can’t just have one voice.”
For Conrad, a former director of legislative affairs with Bulloch, COSB is his second try for another voice. After the Nov. 16 budget last year, he set up the Canadian Association of Independent Professionals to fight then-finance minister Jean Chrétien’s plan which would have meant selfemployed professionals would no longer pay income tax at favored small-business rates (Maclean's, Feb. 12). Hoping for 10,000 members within a year, Conrad claims only 900 now and hopes the other four directors of CAIP agree to toss in with COSB. The difference now, he hopes, will be
the 20 people (and more to come) selling COSB memberships for $50 to $1,000, depending on size, door-to-door.
Although COSB President Dan Horigan is also a former Bulloch colleague and longtime lobbyist, he can still charge, as he did at the Calgary press conference: "It is difficult to imagine a worse environment for nurturing small business than we have in Canada.” While he lobbed shells, Conrad met with Greg Fyffe, executive assistant to holidaying Revenue Minister Walter Baker, and lunched with Ron Huntington, minister of state for small business, to press the new group’s case. Bulloch himself wishes them well but not too well: "The first wave of publicity is always good for a few members, but once that subsides, the money dries up, too."What are not likely to dry up are organizations to join.
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