BCTA president Paul Landry has been as busy as ever lately, balancing the many concerns brought forth by the association's members. He's also had to do battle with the mainstream media, which has been taking unfair jabs at the trucking industry. T...
BCTA president Paul Landry has been as busy as ever lately, balancing the many concerns brought forth by the association’s members. He’s also had to do battle with the mainstream media, which has been taking unfair jabs at the trucking industry. Truck News caught up with Landry at Truxpo 2004 and had a candid discussion about some of these issues.
This is part two of the two-part interview.
TN: Several industry trade shows have been cancelled due to lack of interest, yet the BCTA’s Truxpo appears to be alive and well judging by the turnout. What’s the status of Truxpo? Is it here to stay?
Landry: I think this year we’re having a great show. Again, we’re sold out. The traffic and volume of people attending the show seems to be higher than last year although we won’t have the numbers for a while.
The exhibitors seem to be very, very happy with respect to the response they’re getting from the public, so all in all I would say so far it’s been a very, very good show. I am convinced we’re going to be able to deliver good shows well into the future.
TN: Alberta and B.C. are opening a joint inspection station in Golden, B.C. Is this sort of co-operation between the two provinces something you would like to see more of?
Landry: Absolutely. I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference to the province but I think joint inspection stations are a good idea. In a practical sense, trucks should only be stopping at one weigh scale at the border rather than going through one on each side as they exit one province and enter another.
TN: Paul, you’ve had to engage in several battles with the mainstream media over inaccurate or unfair reports that have surfaced in B.C. What is causing these media outlets to attack our industry and what can you do about it?
Landry: I don’t know what is causing this to happen except what I would describe it as a drop in the quality of mainstream journalism. We’ve been very surprised and disappointed by some of the reporting that’s been going on by our local newspaper the Vancouver Sun which carried some very sensationalist allegations regarding the involvement of the trucking industry in cross-border smuggling.
Most recently I’ve had to deal with a TV station that broadcast a completely unfounded allegation by an anonymous truck driver saying a significant portion of our truck drivers are using crystal meth and cocaine. The willingness of the mainstream media to rely on uninformed people who have no knowledge or expertise in any of these areas is really appalling.
I guess the term is yellow journalism and it’s worse than tabloid-style journalism. But we’re fighting back and we’re going to continue fighting back and defending our industry in every single instance where we see this sort of thing happen.
TN: A new Fraser River crossing will undoubtedly benefit the trucking industry, but all indications are that it will be a user-pay system. What are the BCTA’s thoughts on bridge or road tolls?
Landry: As an association we have always said tolling is acceptable under certain circumstances, primarily where tolling provides the funding for infrastructure that would not otherwise be created.
We know that governments don’t have buckets of money around to invest in the kind of infrastructure we’d like to see so we accept tolling provided there are free alternatives and provided the toll that is paid is far less than the benefit that is realized. In the case of the Golden Ears Bridge, the timesavings associated with the use of that bridge will be substantial compared to the toll assessed.
TN: What else is the BCTA currently working on? Are there any exciting projects underway?
Landry: Something I’m really excited about is over the course of the next several months I’ll be working with our board of directors and other people in the association to define a role for our association in terms of dealing with the looming shortage of professional people including drivers, dispatchers and mechanics in our industry. We think that as an association we’re going to have to work hard to put our best foot forward to present our industry as a place to seek a rewarding career in literally dozens of different occupations. I think the public needs to understand us better and they need to have a good sense of our contribution to the economy and they need to know our track record in terms of safety and the environment and they need to understand the opportunities in terms of employment. These are things the association is going to need to make a high priority.