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.
BY RON TENOVE, P.ENG.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.