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President's Blog

From the “Oval Office” in Val-D’Or

Jul 20, 2017

I would like to share a few ideas here in the PDAC President’s Blog, and perhaps put up a few “trial balloons” to gauge reactions from our readers. Some ideas might come across as extreme, from time-to-time.

They say that the only constant is change, and I have seen a lot of that at the venerable 85-year old PDAC. I haven’t been around for all of them, but this year marked my 42nd straight convention. That is a lot of memories, and a lot of change.

I am fortunate to have been well-mentored by many of our members, several of our directors, and a few past- Presidents. It was Scott Jobin-Bevans (PDAC President 2010-12) who pulled me into “the innards” of the association and asked me to run for a spot on the Board of Directors. This expanded into committee duties, and voila, here we are.

PDAC does a few things quite differently, beginning with the office of the President. The position would be much better called “the Chair” as it is elected by the Board. But it has always been called “the President” and changing the title has been a challenge left (for now, at least) to those who come later. We do have an active—some would even say beleaguered—Governance & Nominating Committee, and they have their hands full with many other tasks.

We have, and continue to make tweaks to PDAC governance, including reducing the board size. It had 48 members when I joined and I remember my first meeting had more attendees than the population of residents in some of the towns and villages I was working in.

PDAC has evolved into a many-faceted organization that is, as we like to say, very Canadian but with Global reach. The Strategic Plan is the operating platform, and guides most of our work programs and budget. Aboriginal Affairs, Access to Capital, and Access to Land were the major themes that came out of the last cycle in 2012.

We do the work and operations planning through our 12 Strategic Committees and 4 Standing Committees. I encourage PDAC members to look more closely at these, as this is where PDAC becomes so much more than its annual convention. These committees are where the real work gets done: Aboriginal Affairs, Awards (the fun one), Convention Planning (also a fun one but very busy), Corporate Social Responsibility, Finance & Taxation, Geoscience & Innovation, Health & Safety, Human Resource Development (responsible for the outstanding S-IMEW program and also now mentorship), International Affairs (helping manage PDAC’s expanding global signature), Lands & Regulations, Public Affairs (communications), and Securities. To round things out, there are four Standing Committees to make sure things are run properly and to provide the required services to our members. These are the: Audit, Executive, Governance & Nominating, and Membership Committees. All told, there are nearly 200 PDAC members in our Standing (20) and Strategic Committees (190), with many being on more than one.

I mentioned mentoring, and that is an aspect that never stops. When outside of Canada I am often asked questions along the lines of: “How does PDAC pick its President”? It is not as complicated as the Vatican, but PDAC does have an interesting process. It too, evolved over time and attests to the depth of experience that has been a signature of the PDAC Board going back to the inaugural 1932 version. The Executive Committee is comprised of six voting members: a Past President (Rod Thomas), then Second Vice President (Alex Christopher), First Vice President (Felix Lee), two independents (Lisa Davis and Ray Goldie), and the President, and there you have it. The non-voting Executive Director (Andrew Cheatle) also attends most of the meetings.

Every year, PDAC members vote to replace board members--one third of the entire board--whose three-year term has ended. The Board of Directors vote for the Second Vice President, the idea being that it is normally someone who has been actively involved in PDAC committees and therefore also has experience and awareness of critical issues. The way it could work then, as an example, would be for someone to be voted onto the PDAC Board, who would then join a committee, or several (we do have some keeners). That engagement with committees normally takes some time both to develop awareness and experience, and time to be recognized. From that, once being elected to the Second Vice President, each term is then two-years. So, two years as Second Vice President, two years as First Vice President, two years as President, and then two years as Past President.

That is the mentoring for the President. It is one thing to have an opinion, it is quite another to speak on behalf of 8,000 members on a range of topics including First Nations, mining and taxation, resource development, and the many international aspects. I acknowledge that I have to remind myself of that sometimes when speaking for the PDAC!

That is my first shot at sharing a look from the inside, and the main takeaway for many, I hope, is to recognize that although you came to know PDAC by its dynamic (and fun!) convention, PDAC is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. I invite you all to take a moment and see how you might fit into our committees, or volunteer positions. A la prochaine et a bientot.

GJM – Val-D’Or, Québec