It is not often a Manitoba contingent leaves the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM with such renewed spirit but this was like no other chamber gathering. The 2014 Canadian Chamber AGM came to close just following the release of last week’s e-weekly. We wanted to take this time to bring our members and readers up to speed on what took place in Charlottetown in late September.

Although Manitoba is thankful to have 66 local chambers as part of the network, only nine are actual members of the Canadian Chamber, giving us a smaller voice compared to other provinces. In past years, Manitoba has gone to the Canadian Chamber AGM as more of a spectator, part of the larger and more organized Alberta caucus. However, this year, for the first time, Manitoba formed a partnership with Saskatchewan.

One United Voice is better than Two Smaller Ones

Our two provinces formed one caucus at the AGM and met to discuss a series of resolutions that created constructive debate. Policies surrounding changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), supporting B.C. led policy that would strengthen the west, and making a strong case for pushing government to provide significant dollars back into tourism. The rate of investment would provide a significant return on that increased investment.

Manitoba Tops the New Board

Manitoba was a province that was mentioned countless times at this year’s AGM. Whether it was our board chair or a board member making passionate cases for why the national advocacy group need to lean in one direction or another Manitoba was able to be heard. Our presence is now being felt on the Canadian Chamber board. La Salle’s Michael McMullen was sworn in as the new chair of the CCC board and used allotted speaking time to talk about the work being done by MCC, the potential for Manitoba and how he is looking forward to sharing the Manitoba story and growing our presence within the national chamber.

McMullen spent time speaking with MCC President Chuck Davidson to help layout a vision moving forward of engaging our local chambers and providing them opportunities to be more of a voice in future AGM’s. He pointed out the work that has been done to re-invigorate the provincial chamber and wants to make sure that growth continues. Michael will be an important ally for us and an influential voice at the national table.

Strengthening the Chamber Network

One of the themes throughout the weekend in P.E.I. (and yes, lobster eating was also a theme!!) was how can the Canadian Chamber can work more effectively with provincial chambers and local chambers of all sizes and conversely, how those chambers can become more effective on the national stage. While there is no one answer, it does seem that everyone can agree that the old way of doing business cannot be sustained and new ideas and a more effective chamber network must be developed.

One way of doing that, from a Manitoba perspective, is finding a way to have more local chambers become members of the Canadian chamber. How that becomes reality is still TBA but this year, Manitoba’s contingent was made up of a few chambers that have not been to the AGM before. They saw firsthand the business sessions that are provided, how their provincial bodies bring their concerns to the forefront, the networking opportunities and the policy debate that highlights every AGM. It would be worth the effort to reach out to those chamber executives to learn more about the Canadian Chamber and what transpired over the course of the three days. We would also encourage you to contact President and CEO Chuck Davidson to learn more about the benefits membership with the Canadian Chamber entails and how it could benefit your members.

Now that the 2014 AGM is in the books, work begins on taking the approved policy and bringing our concerns to the federal government. Work also begins on the 2015 AGM in Ottawa next October, just days after the next scheduled federal election.

Click here to view the policies passed at this year’s AGM. Feel free to contact Director of Policy and Communications, Cory Kolt, if you have further policy questions.