Full plate for incoming CTA president Laskowski

BANFF, Alta. – Stephen Laskowski says the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) can only be as successful as its members will allow it to be.

“CTA will only be able to look as far as you’ll be able to let us,” Laskowski, incoming CTA president, told attendees at the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) Leadership Conference April 28. “We’re as good as the knowledge you give us and the direction you give us.”

Laskowski provided some insight into the state of the industry, highlighting how he intends to continue the work of outgoing CTA president David Bradley, including what he feels should be the top priority for the association and trucking companies moving forward into the future – adaptability.

Laskowski said despite the arrival of new product delivery modes, such as drones, freight will always get to its destination by truck, but new technology was certainly a wake-up call to the industry on how products can get delivered in the future.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is another area Laskowski will focus on as CTA president.

“We need to be in the middle of this,” he said. “Without our customers’ success, we have no success.”

Laskowski said carbon pricing, which the Province of Alberta introduced Jan. 1, should be implemented in as simple a way as possible if provinces choose to explore the tax, pointing to the fuel surcharge system as a possible tool to be used.

As for government regulations in general, Laskowski said it’s not about the need for another rule, but rather what opportunity the rule could present to the industry, underscoring the upcoming electronic logging device (ELD) mandate as an example.

“ELDs will clean up this industry,” he said. “We need to look at the regulatory process moving forward to our advantage, because (regulations) are going to keep coming.”

Laskowski said Bradley had been relaying the importance of a Canadian ELD mandate to government for some time, and now with the US taking the plunge, Canada has fallen behind, with full enforcement of a Canadian law in his opinion not coming until late 2019 to 2020.

Bradley said the Canadian trucking industry was doing well compared to its southern neighbors, pointing to the plethora of safety awards bestowed on Canadian carriers each and every year, and that with the time it takes to get mandates approved and become law, the government is often playing catch-up with the industry.

Laskowski feels in order to overcome the driver shortage, the industry must shoulder the issue itself and try to attract professional drivers, not seat holders. This effort begins with changing the government’s National Occupation Classification to include driving, Laskowski said, and the implementation of the mandatory entry-level training (MELT) program is a step in the right direction.

Laskowski also said that today’s young people “like cool things” and the industry’s ongoing technology advancements can help “make trucking cool again to young people.”

The possible legalization of marijuana in Canada is another issue the CTA could be forced to deal with in the coming years.

Laskowski said the CTA is against legalizing marijuana until reliable testing is available to identify those who are impaired, and until that time, carriers should take a zero-tolerance approach.

A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and TruckNews.com. I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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