Two trades coalitions are questioning the decision-making process behind appointing Walter Pamic as a new member of the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) board of governors.
A letter, signed by James Hogarth, president of the Progressive Certified Trades Coalition (PCTC), and Joseph Maloney, representing the Coalition of Non-Compulsory Construction Trades of Ontario (CNCCTO), addressed to Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn and OCOT chair Don Gosen, said Pamic is a "well-known proponent of abolishing the College itself and its system of trade certification."
In a 2012 tweet, Pamic, a former Progressive Conservative candidate, wrote, "Abolish the college of trades."
"As humans we are constantly forming opinions," said Pamic. "My opinions can change and have changed throughout my life."
Back when he opposed the College, he said, it was in its early days and he felt it was unaccountable and could not be voted out, unlike a government.
Soon after the release of the PCTC/CNCCTO letter on Sept. 20, Pamic wrote an Industry Perspectives column to the Daily Commercial News (DCN) titled "Why I’ve Joined OCOT’s Board of Governors." which is also featured in today’s DCN on Page 3.
Pamic, who is a licensed electrician, owner of an Ottawa electrical contracting business and chairman of the board of the Merit OpenShop Contractors Association of Ontario, was the spokesperson for an alliance advocating for a 1:1 journeyman to apprentice ratio on worksites six years ago.
Hogarth, who is the president of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, alluded to that stance in an interview.
"I can accept an open opinion but when you select people to be on the board of directors or different levels of OCOT, it is supposed to be people who are pro trades," he said. "You don’t have to be pro union, you have to be pro trade, pro enhancing of those trades.
"He is going in the other direction. He wants to knock down the trades."
The PCTC/CNCCTO letter claimed Pamic had been appointed when the OCOT Appointments Council had several vacancies, resulting in a bias towards employers. Hogarth said he had not heard from Flynn or Gosen but suggested an interim step Pamic could take.
"What he could do if he wanted to be forthcoming is turn down this appointment until there is the full board in place, a balanced committee, and then resubmit it," said Hogarth.
Flynn declined to comment on the appointment.
Gosen initially declined to comment on the appointment but instead addressed the appointment process.
"Any time our stakeholders have a concern it concerns me," said Gosen. "I am aware of this controversy that has developed but it also shines a spotlight on the Appointments Council and the guidelines they are operating under."
OCOT representation requires a balance among employer, worker, union and non-union sectors, he said, and "every time something happens to disrupt that balance, that obstruction is constraining and unfair.
"This falls on the Appointments Council understandably, but right now it looks like we have some work to do there and this shines a light on some areas that need to be addressed so we can ensure a proper representation on the board."
Pamic stated when it comes to the appointment, "You’ve either got to be a part of it and make it better, or you can fight everything out there. I believe there is a great potential with the College of Trades."