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western showdown

Perhaps it's typically Canadian to favor a provincial identity over a national one, but I'm having a hard time trying to understand the logic behind the Alberta Motor Transport Association's (AMTA) re...

Perhaps it’s typically Canadian to favor a provincial identity over a national one, but I’m having a hard time trying to understand the logic behind the Alberta Motor Transport Association’s (AMTA) recent threats to pull out of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA).

The AMTA says it can’t afford to pay the $87,000 in annual dues to the national association and since the CTA is not willing to reconsider the funding formula, the AMTA is seriously considering pulling out. The dispute apparently reached a boiling point at the recent CTA annual board meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, and was still a hot issue at the AMTA’s annual general meeting a week later.

I can’t think of a worse time for the AMTA to decide it doesn’t want its motor carrier concerns heard in Ottawa.If the ramifications of the Kyoto Accord, new security legislation, and changes to the Canada Transportation Act were not enough to convince AMTA it needs to be able to tap into a national association lobbying for motor carrier concerns, perhaps some of its executive should have been in Ottawa recently to listen to Transport Minister David Collenette address the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in North America. In no uncertain terms, the country’s leading decision maker on transportation issues questioned if Canada is truly making the most effective use of all modes. To quote Mr. Collenette:

“I believe we have to have a basic change in the transportation paradigm and slow the growth of traffic in truck and invest in other modes.” He added that he also believes that Ottawa should invest in the rebuilding of the nation’s railway infrastructure.

Do these sound like battles the AMTA is equipped to handle on its own without help from a strong national association? Since its reorganization a few years back, the CTA has become recognized as an effective lobby group for motor carrier concerns. It’s far more capable of dealing effectively with such issues than the AMTA, or any other provincial association acting on its own, could ever hope to be.

But the AMTA would not be hurting just itself by pulling out. It would be hurting the Canadian trucking industry. The clout of any national association declines with every provincial association that elects to drop out. Alberta is home to some of the country’s leading carriers and AMTA’s dues make up 14.5% of the CTA pot. It’s a critical link in the chain. How can the CTA speak with a truly national voice if one of the key provinces is no longer in the fold?

So why then doesn’t the CTA just swallow hard and give the AMTA’s request to revisit its share of membership dues serious consideration?

Aside from the obvious fact that an exception made for the AMTA sets a precedent that would make every other provincial association envious, dealing with the AMTA request is unwise because it wouldn’t get to the real root of the problem: AMTA’s arrangement with the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Alberta. Under this arrangement, AMTA membership dues are collected automatically as part of WCB premiums and forwarded to the AMTA. On the surface a damn good deal for AMTA. Every trucker in the province is now an AMTA member and the WCB takes care of the hard work of collecting the dues.

But, of course, there is a price to pay. The WCB is not willing to play the silent partner. It has a big say in how AMTA money is spent and it wants the money spent on safety issues. That may make sense for the WCB but not for the province’s motor carriers who deal with more than just safety issues on a daily basis.

I hope the AMTA executive does the right thing and stays in the CTA. As Ralph Boyd, head of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, aptly put it: motor carriers need representation on a national level as well as a provincial level, and considering the limited resources available to provincial associations, the CTA provides excellent value for the money.

Truck News

Truck News

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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