2012 IAFF Canadian Legislative Conference- Ottawa, Ont.
A report on the 2012 IAFF Canadian Legislative Conference;
The first speaker of the conference was Vic Toews. Vic touched on a few of our issues, mostly spoke on a need to properly fund a better radio/communications 20 Mhz program.
Next, IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger spoke, he applauded Canadian political effectiveness and reminded us to keep both feet on the gas as cuts to Fire Dept staffing, pensions and collective bargaining rights continue to leak north of the border. He was his usual dynamic self, excellent speech. As a nice touch, Harold came over and spoke personally with Brandon, Manitoba President Wade Ritchie and conveyed that the IAFF will continue to support the fight in Brandon, which he later spoke on from the podium (which received a huge round of applause), classy.
Elizabeth May (elected green party MP) then addressed our delegation, as she has @ the last 4 IAFF Cdn. Leg.conferences. She was on point and gets our issues. She suggested the only way to really effect movement/change on our issues is if FF’s target the conservative voter base through media and gather their support, ensuring we would truly get the MP’s attention. Good advice, I believe.
Newly elected leader of the federal NDP party, Thomas Mulcair spoke and was great as well. He slammed the right wing attack on collective bargaining, old age security payments to start @ age 67, cuts to services such as Fire depts, food inspectors (I.e. the maple leaf lysteriosis disaster) and now air traffic controllers are being reduced, to name a few…he was sharp and an impressive speaker.
Lastly, Ralph Goodale (Sask, Liberal) spoke and touched on all our issues, he was well informed and very supportive. (Although we all remember the Liberals had 10 years to act on these when previously in power…)
So far it has been a good, informative day with a lot of good debate and discussion. The usual networking and sharing of ideas, fights and strategies are being shared. Much mentioned about the Alberta Provincial election.
Day two was extremely busy as Dave, Alex, Rob, Tom and (MPFFA treasurer and President of Brandon L803) Wade Ritchie had appointments and met with many Senators and M.P.’s on “the Hill” to discuss and convey the need for:
We met with the following dignitaries to discuss the above mentioned:
Senator Jo-Anne L. Buth, MP James Bezan, MP Shelley Glover, MP Lawrence Toet, Senator Donald Plett
MP Joy Smith, MP Niki Ashton, MP Pat Martin, MP Robert Sopuck, MP Merv Tweed, MP Steven Fletcher
The discussions were positive, many questions were answered by us and much information was shared. There is still a lack of commitment from the government to move on these. However, we will continue to revisit and provide arguments for these important issues.
Day three consisted of a full lobby day report from all locals. Much commentary and feedback was shared as well as ideas how to get answers back to MP’s in a timely fashion. Response cards were collected for future reference and ideas.
This was followed by a CPTA (IAFF Canadian Political Training Academy) 2012/2013 discussion on agendas, course outline, training sessions, topics, and various tools and materials required to successfully run a campaign.
All in all a very jam-packed 3 days. It remains to be seen if the Fed Gov’t will act on our priority issues, but the message is clear that we feel very strongly that they need to be addressed. As usual, much positive net-working and sharing of ideas with other Cdn locals with similar issues in their respective regions.