Apegga1c.gif (2007 bytes) The PEGG
May, 1999

Directing Our Skills and Talentswpe26.jpg (6230 bytes)
Toward Places Where They Count

By Darrel Danyluk, P.Eng.

We are at a time of new beginnings, now just months away from the turn of the century. I got a sense that we within APEGGA got an early start on our millennium celebrations during the Association’s Annual Conference, which included the Summit Awards® and Annual General Meeting, late last month in Calgary. I feel personally honoured to have been part of the proceedings and to be installed as APEGGA’s 80th President.

I know that in the eyes of some, it may seem like a mere ritual to thank one’s predecessor. However, I firmly believe the circumstances surrounding Dan Motyka’s presidency require me to extend a very special acknowledgment. There may be those who think being 1st Vice President is merely a matter of biding one’s time in the wings waiting for the call to walk on stage. If that’s ever so, certainly this was not the case with Dan. The untimely illness of the 1997-98 President, the late Dennis Lindberg, P.Eng., meant that Dan was called upon to assume many presidential duties before he actually held the office. Dan has performed in a stalwart fashion as a stand-in and in his own right for the last 18 month. It therefore is no perfunctory gesture on my part to thank him for the dedication and time he selflessly devoted to our professions and the Association.

Thank you Dan!

I welcome the opportunity over the next year, through this space in The PEGG, to share some thoughts with you.

Honouring Contributions

In honouring those who have made outstanding contributions to our professions and the wider community, the Summit Award ceremonies provided a reminder of the significant role that our professions play in Alberta, in Canada and in the world. It is appropriate that we honour our own and, through the publicity that surrounds the Summit Awards®, make others aware of our contributions.

Still, I believe that too often, we tend to do our jobs and pat ourselves on the back without getting the recognition that is justly due to our professions. The recognition is important and satisfying to the award recipients as well as to those associated with them. Nevertheless, those recognized represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of the pool of talent and experience within our membership of more than 30,000.

The fact that we aren’t utilizing that total resource for the benefit of our province in a focused way seems a shame. I think our government could draw upon the advice of our professions in a more significant way. Because of our knowledge—whether it’s global or whether it’s technology-based—we can play an important role in the economic development of the province.

This is not just wishful thinking on my part. In connection with my work and through my involvement with other organizations, I have had considerable opportunity to travel abroad and to gain insight into how things are done in some other countries. As Canadians, we have much to give but we should not be too proud to take a cue from what others are doing.

In the Inner Councils

For instance, I know that in the Netherlands members of their engineering associations are given the opportunity to sit at the cabinet table and inner circles when their national government is setting policy. That’s how significant the engineering profession is viewed in at least one of the European countries.

Two years ago, when the Alberta Government sponsored a Growth Summit, APEGGA held a couple of mini-summits, and, on the basis of them, prepared a very valuable list of recommendations for the Growth Summit itself. Unfortunately, such opportunities are too rare.

In this country, rules relating to cabinet secrecy and solidarity might preclude us actually sitting in on cabinet meetings, but by not being close to the policy-making action our professions lose the chance to contribute early in the design process. More importantly,
I think that our wider society is losing out by not tapping our insight at an early stage.

Within our Association, there are 31,000 really powerful brains. They represent many perspectives—including the private sector, business, consulting, resource industries; the public sector—federal, provincial and municipal, fundamental infrastructure; and educators. If they all get focused in trying to solve some problems or give some ideas, we can really build on that insight, experience and knowledge. I look forward to hearing from you and will do my best to relay useful ideas to the places where they count. 

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