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Exclusive: OBAC president explains resignation

CALGARY, Alta. - For Dave Marson, the decision to resign from the beleaguered Owner-operators' Business Association of Canada (OBAC) wasn't an easy one. Not only was he president of the fledgling grou...

CALGARY, Alta. – For Dave Marson, the decision to resign from the beleaguered Owner-operators’ Business Association of Canada (OBAC) wasn’t an easy one. Not only was he president of the fledgling group, he was also a founding member and had invested countless hours in getting the association off the ground.

So why did he step down? In an exclusive interview with Truck News, Marson painted a not-so-pretty picture of infighting, contradictory visions, and what he calls a take-over by outside interests.

“I toiled with the decision to resign for a long time and it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my career,” said Marson. “I thought it over, I talked to a few directors and truckers, and they believed I was on the right path and I had their support.”

On Apr. 14, Marson stunned the board of directors by notifying them of his resignation in a strongly-worded e-mail.

“After careful consideration I am officially offering my resignation from the Owner-operators’ Business Association of Canada,” reads the e-mail. “I am the last founding member to offer my resignation. This association is not serving the interests of the Canadian owner/operators and/or drivers.”

And that was it. Just eight months after the formation of OBAC, a disillusioned Marson – one of the association’s most instrumental architects and staunchest supporters – was packing it in.

But the long-time activist said he hasn’t lost his desire to unite Canada’s owner/operators.

“I truly would like to see national representation of owner/operators in this country with the right people in place for all the right reasons,” said Marson.

At one time, Marson truly believed OBAC would be the avenue that would provide a unified voice for Canadian O/Os.

He envisioned a Canadian association that would mirror its hugely successful U.S. counterpart, the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers’ Association (OOIDA).

“I hold those guys in the highest regard. They operate on truth and integrity and could provide a template for success,” said Marson of OOIDA.

OBAC’s mandate of “education and advocacy” didn’t allow the association to address the real issues facing owner/operators, he said.

“OOIDA is so successful because they’re fighting battles and they’re winning battles. There are lawsuits out there that can be fought and won – it’s just a matter of getting everyone together and doing it. But OBAC’s mandate was education and advocacy, let’s not rock the boat.”

Despite his attempts to steer OBAC in a direction that would benefit Canadian owner/operators and drivers, he said there came a time when he finally had to admit defeat.

Marson claims his hands were tied when outsiders came into the picture and exercised too much control over the association’s business.

“There are good people on that board who I admire and respect, but there are other people (as well)…,” he said.

Individuals who weren’t even on the board of directors ultimately called all the shots, he told Truck News.

“When outside influences dictate what the president can and can’t say, can and can’t do, we have a problem,” Marson says.

When asked if the contribution of more than $170,000 of government money was more of a curse than a blessing, Marson took a sip of his coffee and paused before answering “It would appear so, wouldn’t it? It (attracts) the wrong people.”

Marson’s resignation is just the latest of a series of blows dealt to the fledgling OBAC, which has been mired in controversy since its accountant disappeared just days after its launch last September.

It seems each time the association picks itself up from the ground and dusts itself off, something else comes along and pulls the rug out from under it.

Marson wondered how much longer it can go on.

“They’re hanging on – some of them are going to try to move on and recover, but I don’t know how they can.”

Worse yet, Marson believes the possible impending death of OBAC threatens the ability of any future campaigns to unite this country’s O/Os.

“(OBAC) itself had a difficult task of achieving success because owner/operators have been burned so often by other associations in the past. The worst thing that could’ve happened is exactly what happened to OBAC. For a national group to get started, they’re going to have to have a track record – a track record with very little or no scars,” said Marson.

Marson himself plans to put the entire episode behind him and concentrate on running his own business as an owner/operator.

He said he’s out approximately $10,000 of his own money as a result of his commitment to OBAC.

“I’d do it all over again one day if it was for all the right reasons and with all the right people,”he said.

In the meantime, he’s content to just maintain his status as a regular paying member of OBAC – he purchased a one-year membership for $120 at the association’s launch.

“But I don’t think I’ll renew,” he said with a wry smile.

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