President's Message - Issue 77

Winter 2010 CSANews Issue 77  |  Posted date : Dec 16, 2010.Back to list

As I sit down to write this column, Lois and I have just arrived in Florida. The Canadian dollar is once again flirting with parity and, if the Canadian licence plates outside of the local grocery store are any indication, it looks like we are in for another strong, snowbird travel season. 

Many of the local media are focusing on this angle and a hint of pleasant surprise at the early arrivals seems to be prevalent in many of their stories. With global economic uncertainty prevalent and incidents such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I suppose you can't blame them for thinking that snowbirds might be arriving a little later this season, but should it really surprise them? 

Snowbirds are Canada's most experienced and dedicated travellers. We were embracing the snowbird lifestyle in record numbers when the dollar was sitting at 62 cents U.S., so you'll be hard-pressed to keep us from our winter homes when it is performing so robustly. It's gratifying to see so many early arrivals in Florida and I suspect that our friends in Arizona, Texas and California are experiencing the same thing.

In September, my wife Lois and I were fortunate enough to meet many of you at the latest round of fall Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations. This year, we travelled throughout Ontario with stops in Orillia, Sarnia, Kingston, Port Hope, Peterborough and Richmond Hill. 

Yet again, all of us were treated to top-notch entertainment at outstanding venues. As much as I enjoy the shows, the opportunity to meet our members is extremely rewarding. I value your advice and it's good to get a little face-to-face reality check and feedback on some of the initiatives we are working on or some of the things you think we should be working on. 

Thank you to everyone who helped put these shows together and to the many of you who generously donated to our Special Action Fund, dedicated to our government lobbying efforts. I know that I speak for your entire board of directors when I say that we are all looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible at our upcoming round of Extravaganzas and regional Winter Information Meetings.

Speaking of our winter shows, this year's Snowbird Extravaganza will be held at The Lakeland Center in Lakeland, Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 25 and 26, 2011. 

Our Winter Texans' Snowbird Extravaganza will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, February 1 and 2, 2011 at the South Padre Island Convention Center in South Padre Island, Texas.

Finally, our Snowbird Extravaganza Canadian Celebration will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, February 8 and 9, 2011 at the Mesa Convention Center in Mesa, Arizona.

If you can't make it to one of these events, please try and attend one of our regional Winter Information Meetings. They are smaller and more intimate, but there's an even greater opportunity for CSA board members to receive your input. After all, it's your feedback and ideas that form the basis for many of our policies and determine the direction of the vast majority of our government action. 

This year, our Winter Information Meeting tour kicks off in Tucson, Arizona on February 11, 2011 and then heads to Yuma, Arizona on February 14, 2011. We'll be in Indio, California on February 16, 2011 before heading back to Florida for three shows. Our Florida members can take in a show in Panama City Beach on February 21, 2011, Port Charlotte on February 23, 2011 or in Largo on February 25, 2011.  As always, these shows are free to everyone, so please feel free to bring your friends. 

I've had many people approach me lately for information about the status of the new Canadian ePassport about which I last wrote in the summer 2010 edition of CSANews. The public consultations are completed and the results are available online on the Passport Canada website at www.ppt.gc.ca. The CSA was part of these consultations and has been lobbying the federal government for years to extend the life of the Canadian passport from five to 10 years. 

These new, security-enhanced passports were supposed to be ready early in 2011, but we have since learned that they will be delayed by one year until 2012. Why the delay? The debate revolves around the issue of cost. How much is Passport Canada going to charge for these new documents? With the enhanced technology and the doubling of the lifespan, we assume that the answer is going to be more than the $87 which they currently cost, but the question is how much more? 

Before making any changes to fees, under the User Fee Act, federal departments wishing to modify their services and associated fees must consult clients first. The purpose of the User Fee Act is to ensure that Canadians' views are taken into account before any changes are made. 

We're not sure why they didn't take this into account when they announced that the new passports would be rolled out in 2011 but, frankly, we're just pleased that it's happening. We'll know how much they'll cost this spring and the first group of ePassports should be issued to Canadians early in 2012.

Lois and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you at one of our winter meetings in the United States.