Government Relations Report Issue 55

Summer 2005 CSANews Issue 55  |  Posted date : May 20, 2007.Back to list

Advocacy—the act of arguing in favour of a cause, idea, or policy—is the raison d'être of the Canadian Snowbird Association. In 1992, our association was founded to oppose the reduction of out-of-country emergency medical service reimbursement rates by the government of Ontario. These reductions increased the cost of travel medical insurance, thereby making travel abroad more expensive and even impossible for many snowbirds. Ultimately, our advocacy resulted in the reversal of reimbursement rates, one of our many advocacy victories to come.
Lakeland, Florida—the site of the Snowbird Extravaganza—is the birthplace of the CSA, and thus the birthplace of snowbird advocacy. From the start, your association has been dedicated to an advocacy that transcends borders and supports the snowbird cause wherever Canadians travel. Our appearance before the U.S. Congress in 2002 to stop the passage of a bill that would have limited Canadian travel to the U.S. to just 30 days, is but one example.

Today, the issue on the minds of many Florida snowbirds is the disproportionate rate of property taxes paid by seasonal residents versus full-time residents of that state. This is an ongoing active investigation for us as a possible advocacy campaign.

As you have previously read in CSANews, our international influence was recognized this past winter by the consulate officials who brought greetings on behalf of the Canadian government, and by the American dignitaries who brought greetings on behalf of state governors, to our 2005 events in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.

In Florida, the Snowbird Extravaganza was addressed by the Honourable Anthony Knill, the Canadian consul general in Miami. Mr. Knill has addressed our members several times in the past, and his support of our association is truly commendable. Governor Jeb Bush was represented by Scott Openshaw, assistant co-ordinator of the Florida Office of Tourism, Trade, & Economic Development; Dr. Pamella Dana, the director of the same agency, addressed our Winter Information Meeting in Panama City Beach. Not only did Florida state representatives attend our local events, but this past year – another first – Florida Governor Jeb Bush joined our president Gerry Brissenden on AM740's Sunday Showcase. The strong, historic relations between our association and the State of Florida speak to the importance of snowbirds to the economy of Florida, but also to the goodwill that snowbirds spread in their winter homes.

In Texas, the Winter Texans' Snowbird Extravaganza was addressed by David Dix, trade commissioner to Texas for the Consulate General of Canada. Mr. Dix brought greetings on behalf of Consul General Jean-Michel Roy, and his eloquence was appreciated by all. Texas Governor Rick Perry was represented by Christopher Scheffman, regional lead specialist for the Rio Grande Valley, who had spent many years in Canada, and was sincere in his support of the CSA. It is worth noting that 2005 marked the first year in which the Winter Texans' Snowbird Extravaganza featured dignitaries from both American and Canadian governments, and our Texas snowbirds will be well-served by the state presence of their association.

In Arizona, the Mesa Celebration was addressed by Doug Paterson, consul and senior trade commissioner for the Consulate of Canada. Mr. Paterson is the highest-ranking Canadian representative in Arizona, where the establishment of a consulate reflects the growing importance of tourism and our snowbird presence. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano was represented by Jennifer Sutcliffe of the Arizona office of tourism. Ms. Sutcliffe was enthusiastic in her support of our association, and was especially noteworthy in her dedication to establishing relations. 2005 also marked the first year in which the Mesa Celebration featured dignitaries from both American and Canadian governments.

While in California, unforeseen events and scheduling conflicts hindered the presence of dignitaries at the Winter Information Meeting in Indian Wells. Members can rest assured that their association has established relations with both the consulate general in Los Angeles and the California Travel and Tourism Commission. Though the many telephone calls, letters, invitations and scheduling that are necessary in establishing government relations is demanding, your association has always met this demand with a special dedication. It is a dedication that has allowed our advocacy to flourish not only at home, but also in snowbird destinations by transcending borders.

Advocacy also demands foresight. The establishment of government relations today helps to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The dignitaries who appeared at our 2005 winter events will be our allies in future challenges, and how your association plans for challenge is a measure of our advocacy.

Look for future updates in CSANews about our planned meetings with provincial governments in Atlantic Canada, and with federal government and opposition parties in Ottawa. Work is already underway for a new Special Report update to our last Travellers' Report Card.

While many people take the summer months off to relax, we will be working hard for you and all travelling Canadians.