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Industry targets issues not parties for election push

Russell Hixson
Industry targets issues not parties for election push

The time has come for Canada to choose its government. Many associations and groups in the construction industry have worked over the past few months to educate members on the issues and engage the parties on the concerns of the industry.

The Canadian Construction Association (CCA) interviewed some of the major party leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May about topics facing the construction community. The CCA also created its Election 2015 Portal, to highlight the CCA’s election topics, show where the party leaders stand on industry issues and help members send a letter to their respective candidates on items of importance to them. The site also compiled articles related to the election for members to view.

The association recommended six key principles to reiterate the importance of a national infrastructure investment strategy: permanent and flexible annual funding, a strategic and sustained investment strategy, encouraging industry innovation, embracing partnerships with the private sector, identifying and dedicating new revenue streams and ensuring accountability and transparency.

Also eager to educate its members, the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Canada ran its Vote Infrastructure campaign, which included an interactive website called Visitors to the website could send a form letter to all candidates in their riding asking them to make infrastructure investment a priority. ACEC president John Gamble said the site saw heavy traffic and more than 300 letters were sent.

"I think certainly in recent years, ACEC has always been very engaged in government relations, and certainly that is something the board has seen as a major priority of the association," he said. "This was an opportunity to leverage new tools that we haven’t used in the past, namely microsites and social media."

Gamble added that the ACEC wanted to make sure infrastructure was going to be a major campaign issue. He believes that with stakeholder partners they were able to accomplish that. Architects also got involved. The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) assembled an election toolkit for its membership. The toolkit had links for members to determine if they are registered to vote, to find their electoral district and to list candidates in their district, as well as the respective party platforms. The RAIC also featured a six point action plan for architects to get their issues in front of candidates, including use of the #raicvotes hashtag.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) reached out to the parties with a questionnaire with questions regarding the 2030 Challenge to reduce carbon emissions, First Nations communities, design excellence, and Canada Post community mailboxes. Four parties responded to the RAIC’s questions. The complete responses from the Liberal party, the NDP, the Green party and the Bloc Québécois are posted on the RAIC website. By Oct. 14, the Conservative party had not yet responded. Let’s Build Canada, a coalition of Building Trade Construction Unions advocate for public investment in infrastructure, expanded apprenticeships, and fair policies to reduce income inequality, ran a campaign highlighting issues facing trade unions. The group compiled party position info on infrastructure, worker’s rights, job creation and mobility tax credits for construction workers. Another goal of the group was to pursue the parties to endorse the Let’s Build Canada plan.

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