CRA President's Message: It's time to speak our truth to power

It’s time for this association to use its influence constructively.
Mike Maltby
November 12, 2018
By Mike Maltby
Most of us are familiar with the mythical story of Icarus. Along with his father Daedalus, Icarus was imprisoned on the Greek isle of Crete. After being imprisoned in a labyrinth of his own design, Daedalus fashioned two sets of wings from feathers and wax. With these wings Daedalus and his son Icarus escaped imprisonment and death.

We are aware of this myth, not because of the ingenuity shown by inventor Daedalus in overcoming obstacles and rescuing himself and his son from certain death, but rather because it is often used to remind us to limit ourselves and to set our expectations lower than we otherwise might. You see, shortly after Icarus takes flight, he is overcome with a feeling of exuberance and ignores his father’s warning about flying too high. He gets too close to the sun, which causes the wax that is holding his wings together to melt, and Icarus falls to his death.

This may also be the first historical record of a warning to “read, understand and follow the owners manual.”

Many times in our lives we have limited our activities because, consciously or not, we were afraid of “getting too close to the sun.” As an association, we have been guilty of this as it relates to representing our membership to government. We were led to believe that our resources were not great enough to begin a meaningful government relations program and because of that we did nothing formal. We were paralyzed by the fear of attempting to fly too high. As a result, with a few notable exceptions, the CRA has been absent in government advocacy.

But there’s a little-remembered detail in the Icarus story. He was also warned about flying too low. Daedalus told Icarus before they took off that if he got too close to the ocean the feathers of his wings would get waterlogged and he would be too heavy to fly.

Falling from great heights screaming, “Help me, Father!” probably makes a better story than flying low, getting wet and sinking, but flying too low can be much more dangerous. It gives the illusion of safety. Complacency kills just as easily as hubris. The CRA board believes that we may have unnecessarily limited ourselves and repeatedly sold ourselves short. In the rare government-relations tasks that members and locals have taken on, the CRA has been successful in influencing policy. Notable examples include CRA B.C.’s role in the reversal of controversial changes to their vehicle insurance regulation, and CRA Ontario’s role in the creation of Records of Training in the construction heater market.

Beginning in 2019, we will be launching a formal government relations program to represent and advocate on behalf of our membership. As we begin down this path we will need to be careful not to set our expectations so high that our wings melt, but I believe that together we can also stop flying too low and begin to develop a meaningful government relations program.

We’ll be setting aside time at each of our regional trade shows in the new year to hear from you and let you know what we’ll need from you as we begin this process. In the meantime, if you have suggestions or want to know how you can help, please contact myself, our executive director Nathalie McGregor, or any member of your national or local boards of directors. We are always here to help.


Mike Maltby is vice-president of Ingersoll Rent-All in Ingersoll, Ont. Mike has been a fixture at CRA Ontario events since beginning his time with the association in 2006, and looks forward to connecting with CRA members nationally in the coming years.

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