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Guardian Study Vacation 1981

Greg Lyle's Bio Since 1981

The Guardian Study Vacation turned out to be a very pivotal event in my life. Until I joined you folks at Royal Holloway College, I was on track to be a scientist. I was enrolled in first year science at UBC with the intention of being a geophysicist (since I couldn't figure out how to make astronomy pay). Two big things happened to me on the Guardian Study Vacation. First, I became aware of what a barbarian I was when it came to any awareness, let alone understanding, of art and culture. I am not much better today, but at least I feel bad about it. Second, I met my first card-carrying Conservative party member - Frederick Lynch - which helped to demystify politics for me.

That fall when I went to UBC, I was stopped on clubs day by a Conservative M.P. who asked if I was interested in politics. The result? I joined up and twenty years later I have a long list of campaigns behind me and own a busy corporate affairs trouble-shooting company in Toronto.

Between now and then and I have been lucky be to a part of some pretty exciting events. The early 80s were a relatively nasty time for internal politics with the PC Party of Canada. I quickly became disillusioned with the internal battles and focused my energy on election campaigning. As a result, I started working in campaigns not just in B.C. but across Canada. That led me to Manitoba where, after working in the 1986 general election, I was hired in 1987 as the executive assistant to the leader, Gary Filmon. When Gary won the 1988 election, I became the Principal Secretary, basically equivalent to a US Governor's Chief of Staff. At 25 years old, that was my big break. The Canadians among you will recall that Manitoba played a key role in the Meech Lake constitutional crisis. As the only senior staffer with any constitutional policy background, I had the lead on the file.

While I was serving as Principal Secretary, I became involved with a series of seminars run by an American magazine called Campaigns and Elections. In addition to teaching direct response campaigning in Washington, D.C., Toronto and Sidney, Australia, I also had an opportunity to join a two-week tour of Eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall to teach Eastern European politicians the basics in democratic skills.

While I stayed active in politics in the 90s including working with Kim Campbell (federal PCs), Gordon Campbell (BC Liberals - a long story), Gary Filmon (Manitoba PCs), Mike Harris (Ontario PCs) and Jeffrey Archer (aborted campaign for Mayor of London), in 1991 I left the Manitoba Premier's office and moved back to B.C. to become a private sector consultant. For the first three years I worked at Hill and Knowlton and its Canadian research arm, Decima Research. I then broke out on my own for five years working first in a loose alliance with the Angus Reid Group and then with my wife in a family business.

Speaking of my wife, while in Manitoba, I met a TV report named Jo-Anne Bennison. Jo-Anne and I moved back to B.C. together and settled in a small town north of Vancouver called Roberts Creek. For those who have seen the TV show called the Beachcombers, we live 15 minutes from Molly's Reach. Keeping the British connection alive, in November 1992 we eloped to Scotland and were married at Gretna Green. On January 1st, 1996 we had our first daughter, Clare, who was joined by our second daughter, Elisabeth, in June 1998.

Over the past few years I found more and more of my clients were coming from Toronto. In January 2000, I surrendered to the inevitable and formed a joint venture with two other consultants in Toronto called Navigator. We now have 6 full-time employees and a variety on full and part-time contract staff who help us with a wide variety of corporate affairs work for governments and major corporations including polling, communications management, corporate affairs planning and public policy reviews. Jo-Anne and I moved into our new house in a downtown neighbourhood called the Beach in August of 2000.

That's been my life so far. Who knows what will come next. I look forward to catching up with the rest of you.


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