May 15, 2016
New Government, New Opportunities
May 3rd and 4th, 2016 saw the largest gathering of boating industry groups and associations (that I have ever been a part of), arrive at Parliament Hill in Ottawa to start off with a Recreational Boating Strategic Planning Session followed by a full day of meetings on May 4th with Canada’s new Liberal majority government.
Organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada by Vice President, Executive Director Sara Anghel and with the meetings set up and scheduled by their Ottawa lobby organization, Global Public Affairs, it was our industry’s “Day On The Hill”.
The 2016 Day On The Hill was the fourth one. The previous three Day On The Hill events were well attended by NMMA Board members and key industry representatives and the group met with MPs and staff in the previous Conservative government under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Each of those events was increasingly successful. The first time the industry arrived in Ottawa, the group learned that Ottawa was not focused on boating but our industry recognized the importance and potential value of the effort. The second NMMA Canada Day On The Hill plainly showed that the event was gaining some traction.
The third Day On The Hill event seemed to me to be better again but our fourth Day On The Hill with the new Liberal government seemed significantly more effective.
I felt that the people we were meeting with, at all different levels, were more receptive. They listened with greater interest, asked more questions and seemed to recognize the economic and social importance of boating.
In a way, I felt the success with the government meetings was less important than the success of the Recreational Boating Strategic Planning Session that the NMMA Canada organized for the first day on May 3rd.
Tom McNair, of Brunswick and Chairman of NMMA Canada, along with Sara Anghel opened the day and introduced Chip Speegle, a professional facilitator provided to the group by NMMA. He was able to manage our ideas and discussions skillfully and without bias.
Recruitment and Retention of Skilled Technicians was the first area for discussion. Coast-to-coast, the industry is facing a shortage of qualified young people and plainly, there is no quick fix for this issue. The challenges are both demographically and financially driven.
Environmental Issues are front and center for the new government and in fact, our industry has an excellent track record on that. We were able to communicate that the next day when we met with various members of Parliament.
We talked about issues of Advocacy defining our common goals and talking about how we would present ourselves and the industry collectively, the next day to the politicians.
Access to Water is an area we should monitor closely. This includes access to parks, launch ramps and other on the water facilities at municipal, provincial and federal levels.
Boating Safety is another issue our industry takes very seriously and we learned that the new Liberal government is particularly interested in safety issues; the subject came up time and time again during our meetings with the politicians.
Overall, the 2016 event gave a more complete and more united face to the broad range of boating groups in Canada as we met first together and then with the federal government to promote our industry.
The June issue of Boating Industry Canada magazine will mail out shortly. Look for more complete coverage there.