April 2006 ISSUE

President’s Notebook

Three Wins Wrap Up Back-and-Forth ASET Debate


APEGGA President

There has been a big change in the past few weeks — and I am not referring to the extra hour of sunshine, courtesy of daylight saving time!

During the past year, you have observed in this Notebook a debate ping-ponging between Scott Turner, R.E.T., then-president of ASET, and me. In the bigger picture, since January both organizations have hiked down to the Legislature to appear before the Standing Policy Committee on Education and Employment to advance our respective perspectives and proposals.
It seemed like second verse, same as the first: another round of disagreement between ASET and APEGGA.


Why am I proud to be an APEGGA member? The top 10 list starts now - and I'll keep adding to it over the next nine editions of my column's appearance in The PEGG.


Participation: I have the power to participate in and shape the future of my profession.


The Power of the Ring: When I am introduced as a professional engineer, people assume that I am smart, practical and have an interesting career. (Not a bad starting point, and geologists and geophysicists are in on this one, too.)


Professionalism: The standards for my work (Practice Standards, CPD requirements etc.) are set by my peers, who understand the practicalities of what I face from day to day.


First Principles: I understand how stuff works. (Sure it’s geeky — but it’s interesting, too.)


Building Our Future: Whenever I have a chance to work with young engineers, geologists and geophysicists, I am always very impressed — and very confident about the future of our professions as well as the future of Alberta and Canada.


Bragging Rights: I have bragging rights whenever I drive by a project in which I have played a role!


Effective Stewardship: APEGGA does a good job of weeding out unqualified or unethical practitioners, who could, by association, drag down my reputation and my ability to earn a good living.


Valued: Clients, neighbours and friends ask my opinion on practical matters. (They seem to think I have a logical mind.)


Colleagues: I have had numerous opportunities on APEGGA committees to work with and learn from colleagues whom I greatly respect professionally and sincerely like personally.


Licenced: My P.Eng. gives me licence (literally) to make a good living doing what I love! Ditto for my fellow APEGGA professionals with the P.Geol. and P.Geoph. designations.


But something was different this time around. For the past year, your Council has been wrestling with “the problem” of being perpetually out-of-synch with ASET. Council was convinced that the situation was not good for our own organization, in terms of diverting energy from other strategic issues.

More importantly, we were convinced that the constant chipping by two organizations, both leaders in our fields, was not in the public interest. How could the out-of-synch cycle be broken, and the synergy of two great organizations be harnessed?

In one of his columns, Scott proposed a “one act, two association” model for regulating the profession. This was not at all what Council had been contemplating! But could we make it work?

If we kept an open mind in discussions, was it possible that ASET would come to the discussion table with an equally open mind? Could we blend our preferred “one act, one association” model with the “one act, two association” model in order to get the best features of both?

After some very impassioned discussions spanning several months, Council voted unanimously at our February meeting to open discussions with ASET on the “one act, two association” model. Under the umbrella of a modified Engineering, Geology and Geophysical Professions Act, APEGGA would continue to regulate engineers and geoscientists, and ASET would take on regulatory responsibilities for technologists, with joint regulation of technologists who practice independently, such as registered professional technologists.

The significance of this Council decision is far greater than authorizing a discussion position. The thought process underpinning it is reflected in the following stated vision: “Invite ASET to join APEGGA under the EGGP Act as a partner in regulating engineering and geoscience to better serve the public interest.”

By working together with ASET as a true partner, it is possible for the total to be greater than the sum of the parts. Gaining regulatory stature is a “win” for ASET; gaining a knowledgeable partner is a “win” for APEGGA; and — most important — gaining unified regulation of a unified profession is a “win” for the public who we serve.

Stay tuned! There are many details which need to be worked out as APEGGA and ASET put flesh on the bones of this vision. Council will keep you fully informed, and will listen carefully to your comments.

Your Council Working Hard for You
This story also makes a great introduction for another observation I would like to share. I have had the privilege of sitting in the capital “C” Chair during these discussions. (This is the next best thing to being a fly on the wall; I just have to stir myself occasionally and bang the gavel!)

The 19 members of your Council have passionately debated both sides of the issue — plus a few other angles thrown in for good measure. I was gratified to observe the intensity with which councillors listened to opposing points; I saw minds being changed by understanding different perspectives.

Every councillor was acutely aware of the importance of the matters being discussed, and how they would impact not just our professional lives but also the lives of average Albertans.

There was passion and there was wisdom. I was struck by the insight and clarity of thought of several individuals and how, over several months, the discussion built upon one good idea after another to arrive at a vision for progress.

Our public members provided invaluable guidance: we were encouraged more than once to rethink a flawed line of logic by former public member Hugh Planche’s succinct “you aren’t going to be successful by putting lipstick on a pig!”

This degree of thoughtfulness and engagement is typical of how Council has approached a number of important issues through the year. It is my opinion that your Council is doing an outstanding job of stewarding our professions, upholding the interests of members and, most importantly, consciously serving the public interest for the benefit of all Albertans.
Do you know any of the councillors or public mem-bers? Perhaps you should them a quick call or e-mail, just to let them know that you appreciate the hard work and thoughtful consideration they apply on your behalf.

President’s Visits
When I first sat down to peck out this Notebook, I thought that I might talk about the 10 visits made to the branches, from Medicine Hat to Peace River. I wanted to recount some of the truly amazing technologies and the complex projects I toured. I wanted to share my pride at witnessing the quiet competence of engineers and geoscientists across the province.

I wanted you to know about the young engineers and geoscientists who are rising admirably to the challenge of substantial professional responsibility, of the public-minded professionals who are clearly respected leaders in their communities.

There is so much to tell, which I am sure would make you as proud as I am. But I am out of space.

So let me just tell you about the two colleagues with whom I had the pleasure of sharing most of these travels. Council will be ably led by Dave Chalcroft, P.Eng., your new President, who embodies clear thinking, sterling professionalism and tactful diplomacy.

On the management side, Executive Director & Registrar Neil Windsor, P.Eng., leads a superlative staff with his boundless energy, colourful personality and encyclopedic knowledge of professional regulation — all of which garner respect across Canada and into the United States.
APEGGA — and our professions — are in good hands.

It has been my sincere pleasure and honour to serve as your 86th President.