A Non-Voter's Reasons
Like many APEGGA members, I didn't bother to vote in the
last Council election. Indeed, I'm baffled as to what the
voting criteria were for those who did.
Included with the ballot is a brochure with each candidate's
photo, brief bio, list of APEGGA involvement and list of extra-curricular
affiliations. And oh yes, there's the all-important paragraph
telling us if they're married, have children and where they
Exactly what is the value of the photo of the candidate? Most
of us have never heard of the person before and will likely
never meet the person during the course of their term. We
should be voting on substance rather than looks.
The biographies usually start with a list of degrees and the
universities the candidate is from, then go on to list past
employment titles and what the candidate is working on. While
this is slightly useful, I can't help but wonder if most of
these folks will have time to serve - especially when you
couple this with all their other APEGGA activities and their
I'm not sure of the purpose of telling us their marital status,
number of children or for that matter where they live. What
difference does any of this make?
The only indication of what these people think, to some degree,
is by the answers to two printed questions at the end of each
candidate's information. I notice most of the candidates responded
with a single (and very wordy) sentence. Yet the candidate
for president didn't answer these questions at all, perhaps
because he was the only person running for the position (and
he was likely hand-picked by some nominations committee).
Not one of these candidates really stated why they are running
for the position. Not one of these candidates stated their
independent thoughts as to what they want to change or improve.
Not one of these candidates stated their proposed style of
operation or how they plan to include the views of other APEGGA
If we don't know why these people are motivated to run and
we have no idea what these folks really think or what issues
they want to drive, what exactly are we voting for?
Mel Wilde, P.Eng.
Editor's Note: Mr. Wilde's comments warrant
a response. Photos are traditionally included in any biographical
literature, because many people like to put a name with a
face. Similarly, family details are also traditional inclusions.
Town or city of residence is important, because APEGGA strives
to attract candidates from throughout the province. The president-elect
is not handpicked. To become president, he or she must first
have been elected to Council and served at least one year.
Most have served longer than that. For the sake of continuity,
Council has set in motion a change that makes the first vice-president
the president-elect. That means there will no longer be a
member vote for the position of president, but to get there
the president will have been earlier elected as president-elect.
Council does have a nominating committee, but nominations
are not restricted to those generated by the committee.
Erring On Side of Caution
I wish to fully concur with the points made in the letter
from H. Neal Collins, P.Eng., in the May issue of The PEGG
(Kyoto Position Needed, Readers' Forum). APEGGA should have
an opinion on Kyoto, because this is a major technology-related
issue facing the Canadian public and also an item of public
safety. On both points, the Association has a duty and responsibility.
As with the general public, the concept of the "precautionary
principle" is very new to engineers. The principle states,
very simply, that if the full implications of a specified
action are not known, it is best to err on the side of caution.
When the implications of climate change are considered, it
becomes a prime candidate for precautionary action (i.e. ratification
of the Kyoto Protocol).
Kyoto is the best solution yet devised in spite of the fact
that it does not go nearly far enough to avert a doubling
of greenhouse gasses. Hopefully, more effective action will
We invoke the precautionary principle every time we design
and build a structure by introducing fire alarms, emergency
exits, pressure relief valves, and fail-safe criteria. As
we discover new hazards we act to eliminate them with such
examples as PCB or asbestos removal, the elimination of lead
in gasoline, endangered species recovery, etc.
Removal and clean up are typically far more expensive than
initial prevention. The costs of remediation of the types
of problem that will ensue from climate change will be astronomical.
This, I feel , is a very strong reason for APEGGA to endorse
such action as well as to actively promote mitigation of the
I was not happy with the reasons given below the aforementioned
letter for our adoption of a "neutral" stance. APEGGA
is an organization of professionals with a mandate to give
advice on aspects of engineering, which could adversely affect
the public. Avoiding this responsibility because our "membership
represents a broad spectrum of individual positions"
should not cause us to deviate from the general consensus
held by our scientific peers.
On the various points of support in the APEGGA guidelines:
The "efficient and responsible use of our energy and
natural resources" is so far from current practices as
to be farcical. We do not even have a working definition for
sustainable development which, to many, is defined as sustained
Being the professional organization we are, we should be giving
the public the benefit of our insight on technical solutions
to climate change, not seeking "continuing dialogue."
Obtaining "ongoing awareness" etc. entails accepting
the views of the scientific community, which is in complete
variance with those of many politicians. What purpose does
seeking "ongoing awareness of, and due regard for, linkages
between climate change and other environmental concerns"
serve or even mean?
When planning for the safety of society "cost-effective"
and "socially acceptable" are of no relevance. Surely
the aspect of safety trumps all else. Were the potential costs
of inaction considered when these guidelines were developed?
Of course the "improvement of business and individual
consumer actions to improve energy efficiency" are welcome,
but, as a professional organization, we cannot simply be spectators.
APEGGA must not be afraid of offending our political leaders.
By avoiding the issue of climate change, which is technologically
created and can only be resolved through technology, we are
shirking our public responsibilities.
David J. Parker, P.Eng.
Are APEGGA Members Short-changed?
It is a requirement of the New York district court overseeing
Enron's bankruptcy that the court approve the legal bill of
the firm representing the company. As a result, the charge-out
rates for the lawyers working on the case have been made public
(Globe and Mail, June 15, 2002). Dissemination of such information
to the public is not common practice for reasons that are
According to the court filing, half of the lawyers (by implication
the senior half) charge between $500 US and $700 US an hour!
The Globe and Mail article also states that senior lawyers
at Canadian firms would charge between $450 and $750 an hour,
in our dollars.
It is my belief that APEGGA members, with equivalent years
of education and experience to these senior lawyers, would
feel very fortunate to charge just one fifth of these "untendered"
rates. However, the Enron lawyers' firm states that they consider
the fees (which I emphasize are in the order of five times
those that APEGGA members would be very lucky to charge) are
I find this information very disturbing. I can only surmise
that either APEGGA members are being radically short-changed
or that lawyers are dramatically over-charging.
Kevin Hewitt, P.Eng.