Terri-Jane Yuzda



Measuring Relevance as the Turkey is Carved


Providing Balance
Roger Thomas, president and CEO of Nexen Canada Ltd., offers industry's viewpoint at an open discussion on Kyoto, Nov. 13 in Calgary. Panel members shown at the APEGGA Calgary Branch event are David Pollock, executive director of the Pembina Institute (foreground), and Allan Amey, P.Eng., president and CEO of Climate Change Central. Alberta's energy minister, the Hon. Murray Smith, was also a panelist.


APEGGA President

When I put together my thoughts for this column, I was surrounded by family and in the festive mood. Holidays are a time to relax and put at least part of our professional world on the backburner. Serious thoughts can be difficult to come by but the task was at hand.

Therefore, I consulted two of my brothers, both professional engineers, for words of wisdom on the relevance of APEGGA members to society. I asked them to answer the question: "As a professional engineer or geoscientist, what do you do to help me?" as if it were posed by someone in the community at large.

The gathering may have been festive and friendly, but this is always an important topic. As a spokesperson for APEGGA, I am devoted to speaking (or sometimes preaching) on our primary focus of protection of public safety, welfare and well-being. In virtually all discussions dealing with relevance of the professions, enforcement of the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act, relationships with other technology practitioners and assessing the value of member services, the conclusion centres on our vow and mandate to serve the public.

Brothers, however, will be brothers. Once we made it through the one-liners that virtually destroyed my literary aspirations, they returned to the tasks at hand. Murray, an agricultural engineer, continued caulking the cabin windows, an activity that consumed all of his dexterity and attention. Gerry, a chemical engineer, got quietly serious about a 1,000-piece sailboat jigsaw puzzle in shades of blue, an activity that consumed all of his cognitive skills.

That left my remaining audience of nephews, wives and mother. So I asked for their views on having a professional engineer or geoscientist for a father, husband or son.

Unedited responses were:

  • I am very proud of what my sons stand for, but the water level of Wabamun Lake is really down so what can you, the engineer, do to fix the problem?
  • My dad improves the quality of water from supply wells all over Alberta.
  • Engineers worry about things important to us all so that I do not have to.
  • They help decipher technology related media statements so that I can understand what is fact versus politics.
  • They really like to play with the technology toys bought for the kids.
  • I don't know but he has a Coke machine in his office.
  • Engineers know how to fix things, solve problems (and do my homework).
  • When stuck for an answer, I can say "just ask an engineer" and they will know the answer (or at least appear to, given the detail of their answer).
  • Engineers carve turkeys real well [this marked the end of the interview].

What started out in jest, so that I could avoid attending to chores, provided a very sincere reinforcement of our professional profile and skills. Maybe we try too hard to have APEGGA members answer the question of relevance, whereas to our public audiences, we are relevant and are of value.

Perhaps you'll have time to pose a similar question, this Christmas. The answers promise to be entertaining - and enlightening. Food for thought, as you enjoy this most relevant of holidays with your loved ones.

The Delicate Area of Advocacy

Over the past several months, APEGGA has taken a few careful, measured steps into the area of advocacy. We chose the Kyoto Protocol for our advocacy measures because of its importance to all Albertans and to our professions, but also because the topic would draw a response from our membership.

The potential effects of Canada implementing Kyoto Protocol targets prompted Council to ask that I write a letter to Prime Minister Jean Chretien encouraging a considered national strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The letter was published in the October PEGG and Mr. Chretien has responded. See Council Briefs, Page 3.

The APEGGA Calgary Branch held a balanced forum on the accord, with representatives of industry, government, the Pembina Institute and Climate Change Central speaking and answering questions for about 260 members. The Nov. 13 event, designed to help members separate the facts from the hype, was interesting and well received. `

And The PEGG carried a Point/Counterpoint feature, allowing readers to compare two opinions on the accord (one for, one against), as well as a rebuttal from each side. The debate took up two printed pages, providing readers with a good example of how much opinions diverge within our membership.

Council, the Executive Committee and I wanted to gauge your responses to APEGGA being more visible in the public arena without taking a definitive position on a topic where we expect our members to have a wide range of opinion. We fully acknowledge the core APEGGA regulatory roles but also your desire to have our audiences recognize our presence in the community. As you would expect, those responses have been mixed, as indicated by letters to The PEGG and comments collected from the APEGGA website.

Forty-five per cent of the 50 responses were against APEGGA presenting a for/against position on Kyoto. However, 25 per cent were supportive of encouraging a national perspective, and 30 per cent expressed a personal view on the matter.

APEGGA should be involved in advocacy, but only when the message impact is carefully considered, and the response monitored and reported to our members. This action stresses the need for our elected Council and the chairs of our branches to keep attuned to member views and direct our advocacy profile accordingly.

Women's Club Evening

In November, my wife Pat and I thoroughly enjoyed an evening out with the Edmonton APEGGA Women's Club. The club's enthusiasm for our profession and camaraderie is inspirational. Please read, on page 16 of this month's PEGG, a full article on this club and the similar one in Calgary, and make the effort to participate.

Season's Greetings

I think I've put more than enough on your seasonal plate, so I'll sign off with simple best wishes to you and yours. Merry Christmas!

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