September 23, 2003
MEMO TO: Mr. Jim Owens
President, Air Force Association of Canada
Members of The Way Ahead Committee
FROM: George McMahon, Sr., Chair
The Way Ahead Committee
RE: Report of the Way Ahead Committee
Presented at the 54th Annual General Meeting of the
Air Force Association of Canada, Regina, Saskatchewan
October 9-12, 2003
At the Annual General Meeting of the Air Force Association 2002, I was asked by the President and confirmed by the N.E.C. to chair a committee originally named The Futures Committee, but later named the Way Ahead Committee. The Committee was established to provide strategic long-term advice on a number of issues including membership, finance, advocacy, etc. and to make recommendations for improvement in these key areas.
The membership of the Committee was to be:
- The National Executive Council
- The Advisory Committee (at least those who had e-mail capability)
- Other members of the Association selected by the Chair who would represent certain interests. The Chair eventually asked the following to participate;
- Bill Church, past Atlantic representative, past Comptroller for the Association and an Accountant
- Michael McGrattan, member of 428 Wing, Director of the Air Cadet League (OPC)
- R. Campbell, retired Major-General, past Honourary President of the Association
- A. McMahon, Jr., member of the Air Force Reserve, President of Ontario Group
- John H. MacDonald, Pipe Major, Warrant Officer stationed at 8 Wing
- Don McLeod, Jr., member of the Air Force Reserve
Warrant Officer MacDonald resigned from the Committee on February 24, 2003 due to the heavy commitments of his job and “a spot” of ill health.
In the middle of December 2002, the National Office sent to all the members: (a) the Chair’s covering letter about the purpose of the Way Ahead Committee and the challenges; (b) the Report of the Task Force on the Restructuring of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association of 1989 and 1990. This Report was presented at the Annual Meetings of the membership in those years and all the recommendations were approved. It was sent to the members of the Committee as a guide to what had happened in the past.
It had been envisioned that the deliberations would have begun earlier than December 2002, but certain previous commitments of the Chair and the heavy workload of the National Office in dealing with post-convention issues prevented earlier action. It was also determined that the business of the Committee would be conducted through electronic mail.
On December 20, 2002 the Chair emailed the members and asked them to consider some nine (9) issues. On February 5, 2003 the second email entitled “What’s Going On!” was sent out regarding the input he had received and the process to be followed. Eventually 15 issues were identified and they, in turn, were sent to the members for comment and recommendation.
These issues were:
- Aims and Objects: February 15, 2003
- Structure of the N.E.C.: February 16, 2003
- 3-5 Year Plan: February 17, 2003
- Air Force Magazine: February 20, 2003
- Services: February 20, 2003
- Regalia Sales: February 23, 2003
- Image: February 23, 2003
- National HQ: February 27, 2003
- Air Cadets: February 27, 2003
- Mission Statement: February 27, 2003
- Annual vs. Biennial Meetings: February 27, 2003
- National Council of Veteran Associations: February 28, 2003
- Trust: February 28, 2003
- Recruitment of Regular and Reserve Air Force Personnel: February 28, 2003
- Membership: March 2, 2003
In total, the Chair introduced 12 recommendations to be considered by the members. This, in turn, led to some interesting and lively debate. All contact was by email, which has both limitations and opportunities. It is certainly, as I soon realized, instant, vivid and responsive. The only exception to the email-type communication was a number of telephone calls and long discussion between the Chair and the Executive Director, and I would like to express my appreciation to Mr. Tracy for his patience, experience and thoughtfulness. That is not to say that the Chair and Executive Director were always in agreement on all issues.
The issues are listed in alphabetical order, for no particular reason, and are a result of summarizing and building a consensus of the input, comments, queries, and recommendations received. A draft report was prepared for the N.E.C. meeting of March 7-8, 2003 at 8 Wing Trenton. Since that meeting, the Chair has received input from N.E.C., Wings, Groups and members. This is now the final report of the Committee.
A. Aims and Objectives
This issue provoked the most debate and certainly was the most contentious although there was general agreement that: (a) the aims and objectives should be prioritized from the most important #1 to the least important #6; (b) the word objects be replaced with the word objectives.
The debate was between those who wanted absolutely no changes but to try to address those aims and objectives that we do not do well (particularly those dealing with civil aviation), and those who wanted to focus on what we do reasonably well and to eliminate and discard those that we ignore (for whatever reason) from our aims and objectives. There was also strong support:
- That our #1 priority be the support of our Air Force.
- That the President assign a particular member of the N.E.C. to be responsible for a particular aim and objective.
- That they be kept short and concise.
- That Wings be responsible for #4 since they are local activities.
Recommendation #1: That the Aims and Objectives of the Air Force Association of Canada be as follows:
- Advocacy: To advocate a proficient and well-equipped Air Force in Canada.
- Traditions: To preserve and perpetuate the glorious traditions established in our Air Force since its birth.
- Air Cadets: To support Air Cadets and work closely with the Air Cadet League of Canada.
- Community: To participate in local civic and community programs as identified by the Wings of the Association and to undertake charitable and other projects of both a national and local character.
- Benevolent Fund: To work with the RCAF Benevolent Fund and various veterans organizations, particularly the National Council of Veteran Associations, in the attainment of their objectives.
- Civil/Military Air: To recognize the achievements of both civil and military aviation through the annual awards of the Association.
It should be noted that #2 created considerable debate. Although there was strong support for prioritizing it as #2, there was concern on how it should be written. Did our traditions begin with the Canadian Air Force (1918-1919), the Royal Canadian Air Force (1924-1968), Air Command (established in 1975), our Air Force’s activities post 1968 in the Cold War, Transport operations around the world, NORAD and NATO activities, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo and Afghanistan. The Chair is grateful to Les Ball and the attendees at the Quinte Regional Conference for suggesting this wording for #2. The Chair believes it to be “short and precise.”
There is not enough time to announce and present all the annual awards during the limited time on the evening of the banquet at the Annual Meeting. Perhaps consideration might be given to having a luncheon in the Spring in Ottawa at which time we can present the Air Marshall W.A. Bishop VC Memorial Trophy (achievement in any field of aviation except air transportation or military search and rescue); the J.A.D. McCurdy Award (outstanding achievements in the field of civil aviation) and, perhaps, the Gordon R. McGregor Memorial Trophy (accomplishment in the field of air transportation in Canada). We would thereby reduce the awards at the banquet and have a special day honouring achievements in civil aviation. This luncheon could be part of a morning or all day session on civil aviation. It could result in media coverage and show us as an active and dedicated supporter of civil aviation. It was also suggested that Corporate support be sought to finance the luncheon.
B. Airforce Magazine
I received universal praise for the magazine including such comments as, “a successful marketing tool,” “no changes should be made to our magazine,” “a very fine journal.” Both Bob Tracy (Publisher) and Vic Johnson (Editor) have considerable experience in magazine publication and their staff of four, Lori Brown (Art Director), Pierre Clermont (Distribution), John Stuart (Advertising), MCpl Allison Bennett (Administration and Circulation) produce four outstanding magazines of 64 some pages each per year.
The universal comment used by the members is that the magazine is the “glue that holds us together” and provides the only means of exposure of National programs to our members. Although the magazine usually consists of 64 pages, on occasion a special edition is produced, (16 extra pages) such as the recent issue on the British Commonwealth Air Training Program (the special issue on the 75th anniversary of the RCAF was 100 pages). Another special issue, planned for 2003, will be on the NATO #1 Air Division.
These special editions are particularly well regarded by the officials of the Department of Canadian Heritage and it is imperative that Johnson and Tracy keep the officials and auditors of Heritage Canada happy because they authorize the grants and the subsidies that help keep the magazine and the Association afloat. There was a time, and I certainly remember it well, when the Association subsidized the magazine, now it is the other way around.
The last grant from the Department was $26,000 and, much more important, is the postal subsidy of 11 cents per copy rather than the usual postal rate of $1.60. The key to the subsidy is the rule on Canadian content, which was introduced by the federal government to help Canadian publishers compete against the U.S. The auditors determine the grant on the basis of Canadian content in each magazine and ruthlessly disregard Association news not of general interest to all Canadians, Air Cadet news not of general interest to all Canadians, and advertisements. Also, to qualify for the subsidy, the Association must sell 5,000 magazines and to qualify for the postal subsidy, it must sell 10,000 copies. That is why we sell on the newsstands probably 600 copies per issue. We provide 2,500 copies per issue to a distributor and sell 30-40% per issue at $5.00 per copy (50-50 split with the distributor).
Consequently, Tracy must deal with the Department bureaucrats who demand two circulation audits per year at $3,500 per audit. There is also a Canadian Content audit once per year at no charge. But it is a demand of Tracy’s time and energy. But that is the price of doing business in Canada. The Department spends $25,000,000 per year to support Canadian magazine publication and one concern is the next federal election and a possible change in Government. The $25,000,000 might thereby disappear.
There is an apt saying, but it is true, that if something works, don’t fix it and consequently, I propose no recommendations for the magazine. As noted, Bob Tracy is the Publisher of Airforce and his retirement is fast approaching. The N.E.C. might wish to consider asking Bob to serve as Publisher on a part-time basis as Moe Morrison did. Therefore, a new Executive Director could concentrate on matters pertaining strictly to the A.F.A.C.
- Annual vs Biennial Meetings
There was no enthusiasm for debating this issue and general agreement that it must rest with the membership. As long as one can remember, this matter has been regularly debated at our General Meetings and only recently the membership strongly approved an Annual General Meeting.
Our membership was also pretty well divided on this issue:
- “By definition every year. To skip a year introduces many other problems which could be just as costly to the Association.”
- “What costs that are saved are far out-weighed by the ‘Esprit de Corps’ created by annual meetings.”
- “Time to go to biennial meetings with the annual awards presented in the off year in the atrium at 1 Canadian Division HQ in Winnipeg.”
The Chair is grateful for the observation of Past National President, Fred Way:
The original proposal for bi-annual meetings was made by Wally Gryba and Ron Butcher in 1973, but it was shot down by the members on the grounds “that if we do bi-annual, we will lose our air lift.”
We know that Annual Meetings are costly — $28,000 in 2000; $30,000 in 2001 and $35,000 in 2002, and it also is getting more and more difficult to have Wings serve as Hosts because of costs and time/member commitment. Although I suppose #306 Wing (Montreal) proved that it can be done in less than a year of planning, as that Wing did an outstanding job in 2002.
Our membership has continually supported the idea of an annual meeting and we are all familiar with the reasons put forward. I suggest that it would be unwise and inappropriate for the WAC to make a recommendation. It is a decision of the membership and should rest with them. Although if we do decide to go biennual, it has been suggested that the meeting be held in an Air Force milieu; i.e., Winnipeg.
There was a considerable amount of input on this issue although general agreement that our national image should be improved. The disagreement centered on either having a spokesperson for the AFAC in Ottawa or having a group of experts (the Aviation Committee perhaps), not necessarily located in Ottawa, with expertise in certain areas; i.e., fighters vs. maritime. It should also be remembered that we should be pro-active in dealing with the media, such as using the Letters to the Editor section. Letters are usually published particularly when written by an experienced and knowledgeable individual in a particular field.
Doug Mullen’s comment of February 11 that we should answer the key questions, “Who are we, what do we want to be and where do we want to go” relates directly to our Image. In those parts of the country where there is an active Wing, people are aware of the Association, but generally speaking, we are unknown. Even in Ottawa the media rarely refers to the Association, but they certainly refer to Cliff Chadderton of NCVA and Cliff is always willing to grant an interview or give a comment when asked about defence policy, issues relating to Veterans, or really anything. As Ron Button has stated, our Image needs to be improved, but how do we do it?
In 1994, the National President became aware of the federal government’s plan to have a white paper on defence. He contacted Lt.Gen. Theriault (Ret’d), former C.D.S., and asked him to establish a committee of “wise men” to prepare a report for the Association. He agreed and the paper was produced in a very short period of time entitled Canadian Defence: A Plan for the Future. The National President and Lt.Gen. Bob Morton (Ret’d) appeared before a joint House/Senate Committee and duly presented our document on behalf of the Association. The document received very positive media comment and members of the Committee praised the document as one of the best the Committee had received.
I have been informed that there are few copies of the document left but that is one example of image making. Later that year, the National President appeared before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, chaired by Senator Marshall. At the beginning of the 90-minute session, the President outlined the function of the Association and its role, our impact on Veterans Affairs, our support of Air Cadets and the trust fund and later suggested changes in the Veterans Pension Act. This report was also well received, although some of the questions were challenging but our recommendations on changes to the Act were accepted. This matter received wide publicity and, once again, our image as a concerned, national and dedicated Association was accentuated.
We have a great number of talented, experienced, knowledgeable members in our Association and many in the Ottawa area. But we don’t have a Cliff Chadderton who can instantly respond to inquiries about the Air Force. Recently, Bob Tracy was asked by the media for a comment on the replacement for the Tudor flown by the Snowbirds. He had no one to turn to as a spokesperson for the Association and an opportunity was lost to have the Association make a national comment.
That a list of our members be developed, each with expertise in certain military aviation areas (i.e. the Sea King, Snow Birds, etc.) who would serve as a spokesperson for the Air Force Association of Canada when the media makes inquiries. It would be encouraging to read in the national press: “Mr. Smith or BrigGen (Ret’d) Jones, speaking on behalf of the Air Force Association of Canada, stated…”
Perhaps our National President could task someone like Major General (Ret’d) B.R. Campbell to develop such a list of experts who could immediately respond to media inquiries.
We should also seek out opportunities for making presentations to government boards or committees which are shaping national policy as we did so effectively in 1994 or more recently when delegations from Wings across Canada appeared before a joint House Committee discussing national defence policy.
Nor should we be afraid, as stated earlier, to use the Letters to the Editor column as an avenue that Chadderton always uses.
We pass resolutions at our National meetings that are sent to the government and we do receive polite responses from Deputy Ministers, often Ministers and even occasionally, the Prime Minister. Our fellow military/veteran associations (CDA, the Legion, NCVA, ANA Vets) take note of them and, indeed, on occasion resolutions are produced in conjunction with them. As well, Tracy, Johnson and Aldworth interact with their counterparts both professionally and socially and that is worthwhile, but we do need to produce a national, accessible, immediate awareness.
I believe the Group Presidents, more recently, are making their Wings more aware than ever before about our National programs and that must be continued, although as Fred Way observed, “it is time for all Wings and Groups to do a little soul searching to improve their image.”
Image is directly connected with membership. If we are perceived as an organization that actively pursues our goals, particularly concerning advocacy and, in Bob Bryce’s terse words, “should show some real teeth…and show a prickly reputation for taking kicks at political butts who let us down these many years” will have attraction to those interested in aviation and in our country.
I eventually received a great amount of input on membership. I am grateful for statistical information that I received from Bob Tracy that is included in this report. There is no doubt, as many have said, that “membership, and particularly the steady growth in membership, is central to our survival.” As Stew Logan elegantly stated to the Chair:
Thank you George for all your hard work. However, I believe we haven’t solved the problem. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, “its membership stupid.” When we first organized fifty five years ago, we had a pool of over two hundred thousand eager veterans to draw from. That pool is long gone and if we are to grow we must attract those who will support our aims and objectives no matter what their background. I therefore recommend we amend our constitution to accept such individuals and also that we abolish the category of associate members entirely. Before you old sweats dismiss this idea out of hand, please come up with another solution.
Our current membership is approximately 7,000 regular members and 8,000 MALs for 15,000 members.
Bob Tracy has stated “we probably lost 250 members (many due to the grim reaper) over the past year. His recent statistics provide another view of our situation:
1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002
61 MALs died; 248 MALs quit
125 Wing members died; 447 Wing members quit
Total lost members: 881
Total new members: 582
In the “Last Posting” in Airforce, Winter 2002, there are 84 listings, 32 Regular members and 50 MALs and two others with no designation. This is, of course, not an accurate reflection of our lost members, but if we just extrapolate that over a year, we come to 336 or, say, 300 deceased members per year. If my friends who are demographers are correct, bearing in mind the age of our members, that figure will increase per annum. How much, I cannot hazard a guess, unless we turn that matter over to more knowledgeable researchers. But if we do not increase our membership, and simply let it be the status quo, we have a limited period of existence.
We should also recognize the MAL membership campaigns that are held during even-numbered years by the National Office utilizing direct mail appeals through CFSA pension cheque envelopes. These marvelous recruitment appeals net A.F.A.C. at least 300+ new MALs. We will later be suggesting two areas of recruiting: (a) C.I.C. Officers and (b) Regular service members.
Bill Bryce strongly argues that since the pool of World War II veterans and post-World War II RCAF and CAF is dwindling, in the one case and limited in the other, another pool of future members must be developed. That is the pool of potential members who have “some minor (even distant) connection with the military or ancillary organizations like the Air Cadets who share a larger concern for the country and its aviation arm.” It is imperative, as Doug Mullen has observed that we must “open our membership to those interested in aviation, military and civil.”
We are, of course, aware of the financial benefits that Wings accrue from Associate member status but we are now convinced that it is time to act.
Recommendation #3: That our constitution be amended to remove the status of an Associate member.
Those who are presently Associate members be made Regular members similar to the action taken recently by Wing #412 in Windsor.
B.R. Campbell has suggested that a determined effort be made to recruit Air Force personnel and that an approach be made to the C.A.S. that addresses of regular, reserve, and retirees be made available to the A.F.A.C. so that a direct approach may be made to them. I do not know if that is ‘do-able’ but an inquiry should, at least, be made. Don McLeod, Sr. has indicated that that can’t be done because of issues of confidentiality, but the issue can be raised. If not, then as suggested later in this report, a letter from the Chief be mailed suggesting that the Air Force members join the Association. This is important because 95% of our membership is veteran/military, whereas 35% of the Legion membership is veteran/military and 50% of Army/Navy/Air Force veterans are of that designation. Consequently, we have a military type organization that should appeal to our Air Force members.
Another suggestion is contacting Canadian flying magazines about carrying our recruiting information as we do in Airforce. We recently carried an advertisement for the Royal Canadian Legion. Are they going to reciprocate? B.R. also stated, and quite rightly, that “the magazine is the drawing card in recruiting.”
We have more Members-at-Large than Wing members in the Association and that is the area of continual growth. Yet we provide very little opportunity for them to get involved and, perhaps, they are content not to be involved and just to read the magazine and purchase the regalia. At the present time, we grant voting privileges at the Annual Meeting to one MAL for the first twenty or so in attendance. Since we rarely have more than five (5) MALs in attendance, this is not a serious problem at the present time.
We also are aware that a number of Wings are in serious difficulty financially and might not be able to continue over the next five to ten years. The membership in Wing 412 recently authorized the Trustees to sell the building, as revenues are no longer covering the cost of the operation of the building. I suspect other Wings with declining numbers and aging members are in the same plight. It is not difficult, therefore, to peer into the future and predict that one day all members of our Association will be MALs, like the RAFA or to a certain extent, the USAFA, and everyone attending an annual meeting will register and participate.
We are now at a “crossroads” (Fred Way) or in “a period of transition” (Bob Bryce). Every effort, including investment, must be made to help Wings attract that group identified by Bob Bryce. It can be in the form of a video or brochure as advocated by the Honourary President of Atlantic Group, Colonel (Ret’d) Wally Kirkwood on “What we do, who we are, where we are.” I fully realize that the National Office has prepared such membership campaigns in the past. Perhaps we can paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Give the Wings the tools, and perhaps they can finish the job.”
- Mission Statement
No one was opposed to a mission statement and members suggested that such a statement reflect our priorities, be short and to the point, and reflect heritage. Bob Tracy urged caution as the Association has had four Mission Statements including the one crafted by Pacific Group in 2000. Consequently, we should refer this matter for more discussion at the N.E.C. while using Doug Mullen’s suggestion as a reference point.
Recommendation #4: Mission Statement
The Air Force Association of Canada is a national aerospace and community service organization established to commemorate the noble achievements of the Royal Canadian Air Force and it’s successor, Canada’s Air Force, and to advocate a proficient well-equipped Air Force and to support the Canadian Air Cadet Program.
We do not intend, in anyway, to change our opening and closing ceremonies which remain motivational, patriotic, moving and essential to our programs.
- National Council of Veteran Associations
There was unanimous agreement on Bulletin #12 and the acceptance of the recommendation. It is in our interests to maximize our involvement with NCVA
The National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada (NCVA) consists of 40 Veteran Associations including nine RCAF (or related) Associations, including 435-436 and Burma Sqd. Assoc., Aircrew Assoc., Bomber Command Assoc. Canada Ltd., Canadian Fighter Pilots Assoc., Ferry Command Assoc., RCAF POW Assoc., RAF Escaping Society, RCAF Pre-War Club of Canada and The Dodo Bird Club of Ex-RCAF Flight Sergeants. But the most important, certainly in view of membership in NCVA is the Air Force Association of Canada. The NCVA holds one meeting, the Annual General Meeting, and I have been attending these meetings as the Air Force Association representative since 1994. On occasion, Bob Tracy also attends this particular meeting and every year the A.F.A.C. presents a $500.00 donation to NCVA to support the work of that organization.
The Chair of NCVA, and has been for some time, is H. Clifford Chadderton, CC, O.Ont., OStJ, CLJ, CAE, DCL, LLD. Mr. Chadderton is also the Executive Director of War Amps and the one responsible for the CHAMP program for children amputees.
Chadderton is highly respected in Ottawa by the officials of DND and Vets Canada. His influence with such officials, as well as Deputy Ministers and Ministers, is quite profound. He is also very accessible to the media who can always count on Cliff for a statement, an interview or a comment. He is knowledgeable, outspoken, articulate, contentious and controversial. But he certainly has “the ears” of the mandarins and they listen when he speaks.
He has led “the charge” on a number of issues and has been quite successful: The Valor and the Horror–Bomber Command, which resulted in the CBC withdrawing the program; the Canadian War Museum and the government’s decision to enlarge and build a new museum; special subsidies to Merchant Mariners, Hong Kong POWs, Dieppe POWs; changes in the Veterans Pension Act; the $39 million package for Treaty Indians and now fighting for the Metis veterans; support for injured and disabled peace-keepers; SISIP or Service Income Security Insurance Plan; i.e., lump sum payments over and above the pensions for death or disability; Polish veterans; expanding the concept of Special Duty areas; RCAF POWs imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps and not POW camps, in clear violation of the Geneva Convention — the list goes on and on!
I don’t mean to state that NCVA is promoting such changes alone, as the Canadian Legion is certainly involved. But Chadderton has been in Ottawa for years and is a force to be considered. In addition, NCVA on two occasions has taken interpretations to the Federal Court and has won in both cases. It has also taken matters affecting Canadian veterans to the Human Rights Commission in Geneva concerning compensation for Hong Kong veterans due them under the Geneva Convention and gross violation of Human Rights by denial of rehabilitation benefits to Merchant Seamen. Faced with this pressure, the government eventually provided compensation to both groups. In making such proposals, in the past and certainly now, Chadderton always indicates he speaks for 40+ organizations and 240,000 Canadians.
As indicated, the A.F.A.C. is the most prominent part of NCVA. Quite often N.E.C. or the National (or whatever euphemism of the day) is challenged by statements like “what do you do anyway” or “what do you do for us.” Yet as being part (and a very important part) of NCVA, we do quite a bit for veterans, peacekeepers, RCAF POWs, our regular force personnel, etc. etc. But get little credit for it.
Recommendation #5: That Airforce publish an article on the achievements of Cliff Chadderton and NCVA and the involvement of the A.F.A.C. in improving the situation of veterans (RCAF personnel) and present members of the regular service.
- National Headquarters
There was general agreement (a) that Bob Tracy and his staff perform outstanding services for the Association and (b) that it is essential to develop job descriptions for all members of the staff. An organizational chart must be developed so that everyone knows what they are responsible for and who they are responsible to. I do appreciate Bob Tracy’s input regarding Lori Brown and Fred Aldworth and the need to have bilingual capacity. In reference to the hiring of a Comptroller, that position is still being reviewed and the selection and job duties should be the responsibility of Bob Tracy’s successor. Perhaps a small committee, including Bill Church, could be appointed to assist the new Executive Director in that regard. New accommodations for 2004 is the responsibility of National Past President, Paul Hayes. But there were also concerns about finding a suitable replacement for Bob when he retires, a full time Comptroller, a replacement for Fred Aldworth when he retires, and new accommodations, if required in 2004. We have been well served by a dedicated and hard working staff, but if we look ahead (as we should, say for 2004 at the earliest) very definite decisions should be made now.
The staff presently consists of 8 full time and 2 part time:
- Bob Tracy, Executive Director and Publisher of Airforce
- Vic Johnson, Editor of Airforce
- Fred Aldworth, Managing Director AFPL and Assistant to Bob Tracy
- Pierre Clermont, Distribution for AFPL and Database Coordinator
- John Stuart, Advertising Sales Airforce
- Susan Longhurst, Administrator/Membership Coordinator
- M.Cpl. Alison Bennett, Administration and Circulation Airforce
- Rose Lalonde, Kit Shop/Regalia
- Marc Wigle, CPA — Comptroller, Part time three (3) days per week
- Lori Brown is a contract worker for 4 days a week but is much in demand by advertisers (doing business with Airforce) as well as the Department of Canadian Heritage
Fred Aldworth, besides his work with AFPL, is devoting probably 70% of his time in responding to general inquiries about the RCAF, probably 100 emails per day asking for general information, and helping with the AGM. He certainly has become an image-maker for the A.F.A.C.. It is also helpful to have Rose Lalonde on staff as she provides a bilingual asset.
There are also the following volunteers: Ed Walker, Ceremonial Adviser and Sam Sayle, Historian.
The point to be made is that with perhaps the exception of Johnson and Stuart, the staff has multiple tasks. For example, Bob is the publisher of Airforce, but also the Executive Director of the Association. As indicated, Lori Brown is on contract, however, it should be noted that she donates time and her talent when there is a need for her graphic art skills, such as designing brochures for the A.F.A.C. Pierre is responsible for circulation of Airforce and membership for A.F.A.C. — the examples are plentiful. Several members recommended the development of job descriptions for all the staff and Tracy supports that idea. It would be relatively easy to do and human resources people (used to be called Personnel) are available in Ottawa to do it. It also must be done before a new Executive Director is hired. Therefore,
Recommendation #6: That Job Descriptions be immediately developed for all the current staff of A.F.A.C. and AFPL.
Bob Tracy operates a $700,000 business. In 2002, the consolidated statement of revenue indicated revenue of $706,000 and an expenditure of $700,000 for a $6,000 net revenue (these figures are rounded out). It is no small business. He also uses some intricate financing that is required to keep the operation solvent. The Air Force purchases 2,400 magazines per issue and pays for four bilingual colour pages per issue (pages 4-7 in the Winter 2002/2003). This pretty well covers the salary of Vic Johnson. We have indicated that the Regalia operation breaks even. But included in the cost is the salary of Rose Lalonde. The Air Force pays the salary of M/Cpl Bennett who has authority to buy office supplies. It should also be observed that the Air Force provides the Association with equipment that has become outdated for its own purposes. This equipment is extremely useful for the Association although older and prone to malfunction requiring repairs.
These are marvelous benefits and in the past have been often shrouded in secrecy for fear that disclosure would cause embarrassment to the Air Force or DND. Yet Tracy has been often criticized by ill-informed members at Annual Meetings, without being able to comment. His endurance and forbearance should be saluted.
The tragic death of Christine Handler has left a terrible hole in the entire administrative fabric of the A.F.A.C. and we shall not see her kind again. But we do have a $700,000 business and we
will eventually need a full time Comptroller despite Mr. Wigle’s valiant 3-day-a-week contribution.
I had earlier recommended the immediate authorization for the position of Comptroller for A.F.A.C./AFPL, but I have been dissuaded from that on the observation that the new Executive
Director should be hired first. But it is essential that the N.E.C. move as expeditiously as possible to move on (a) the appointment of Bob Tracy’s successor; (b) the replacement of Fred Aldworth, if necessary, with his myriad tasks and (c) the appointment of a Comptroller, in that order. Since the Association has its National Office in Ottawa, we should be cognizant of the need for bilingualism in new hiring in order to deal with incoming calls, routine business and interface with various federal agencies, many of which are staffed by Francophones. But Tracy has observed that “bilingual skills must not be at the expense of specifically required job skills.”
- National Executive Council
Generally, there was much support for the present structure of the N.E.C. “I firmly believe that the N.E.C., as presently comprised, serves the Association as a whole admirably.” “No change is warranted.” “Let us give the N.E.C. time to mature.” Don Gibson’s suggestion that the Group Presidents report to the two VPs did not find favour with his colleagues and was removed from the original statement. Mike McGrattan from #428 Wing Peterborough was a lone dissenter when he recommended the elimination of Groups because of costs and modern communication making them redundant and suggesting that there must be “a better way to get regional input than requiring an infrastructure.” This generated a lot of adverse comment. My own observation is that everyone on this Committee is entitled to an opinion and I respect Mike for submitting his own.
There was some concern about the decision made at the Annual General Meeting of 2000 that the Group Presidents as members of the N.E.C. replace the Regional Directors. It was feared that Group Presidents, by the nature of their position, would be too parochial in view rather than truly national. I shared that opinion.
However, it would appear that the Group Presidents have realized their role as members of a national organization and, although they represent their Groups admirably, they do keep and maintain the national perspective. As Don Gibson observed: Now that I am there (the N.E.C.) I understand more about the system. I must also say here that, in my tenure so far, the compatibility between the Group Presidents is outstanding and this can be nothing but a benefit to the Association in general. Other members of the Committee support this view: “…leave it to mature due to the recent change” (Button); “…do not need re-structuring” (Campbell); “If N.E.C. is made smaller it will lose all credibility. N.E.C. is spread thin as it is.” (Melbourne). Consequently, there appears to be no need or desire to change the present structure nor, therefore, is there any need of a recommendation in this regard.
As Fred Way has observed, “the main purpose of regalia is to provide a visual image of our Association in our communities and to provide revenue.” The sale of regalia is a business and an expensive one to operate. Regalia sales in the year ending 2002 were $116,000 and $114,000 in 2001 and $121,000 in 2000. The Association has three kinds of regalia:
- Must have: what the members continually request–ties, wedges, blazer crests, lapel pins and belts, Association buckles, patches for pipe bands (the Association presently has four pipe bands–306, 401, 105, 971).
- Almost must have: bow ties and cumber buns. The mark-up of these first two is approximately 20%.
- Profit-making items: ball caps, sport shirts, jackets, scarves, sweetheart brooches, shirt studs and cufflinks, license plate frames, kilts (see advertisements in the winter edition of Airforce). These are sold at a mark-up much higher than 40% as the auditors demand a 40% overall mark up on all items sold.
The problems in this kind of business are:
- We must buy in quantity to obtain a low item price. Due to the name change in 1994, Tracy had to buy new badges and such in considerable amounts and that inventory has just been completed.
- We must buy often off-shore; i.e., Canadian made belt in 1994 cost $7.00 and sold for $12.00; in 2002 it cost $12.00 so we bought the same belt off-shore at $4.00.
- We must maintain a high inventory that costs money to keep it in storage.
Year Value of Inventory Sales
2002 $75,000 $ 66,000
2001 $88,000 $ 55,000
2000 $65,000 $109,000
Last year the sale of regalia resulted in a net profit of $44,700, which covered the salary of Rose Lalonde, and in that sense “is break-even.” Ms. Lalonde is fluently bilingual, and often carries out functions unrelated to Regalia Sales. Tracy has considered jobbing out the operation but has been dissuaded from doing so because of the experience of others. The members are generally satisfied with the quality of the products as well as the cost and he fears losing that control to an outsider. However, in a period of “just in time” service, the high inventory remains a problem.
In addition, there is some merit in re-vamping Air Force Productions by separating regalia from the magazine. In other words, establishing a Kit Shop Corporation that would handle regalia only and thereby, as a separate corporation, purchase advertising in the magazine that can’t be done now. There is also some merit in hiring a consultant to give advice on the handling of the inventory.
Yet, despite these problems, the Association does well with the sale of regalia and the N.E.C. should be applauded for considering the establishment of A.F.A.C.’s fourth corporation called The Kit Shop Corporation to handle the purchase and sale of regalia Inventory remains a challenge and therefore,
Recommendation #7: That the N.E.C. authorize the Executive Director to consult with the auditors of the Association regarding the handling of inventory.
It is also to be noted that, with the appointment of Ms. Rose Lalonde and the establishment of the Kit Shop Corporation, the purchasing regalia be the responsibility of Ms. Lalonde thereby freeing the Executive Director to carry out his other responsibilities.
Bill Church has inquired about the need for membership pins at five-year intervals as they are costly and an inventory burden. He has suggested 5, 10, 25, 30, 40, 50-year pins only. I leave that to the N.E.C. and Bob Tracy to consider.
K. The Recruitment of Those in the Regular and Reserve Air Force
Some members suggested that this is not necessarily a strategic direction while most others were in agreement with the recommendation. George McMahon Jr. wondered if the Air Force Indoctrination Training (AFIS) at Comox and the Junior NCO School are still operating. We should inquire about that, as it would give the Association time “to explain ourselves.” His other observation is quite sound, “if the support for the Association does not come down from the top, forget about recruiting anybody in the rank and file to actively pursue joining the Association. Actions speak louder than words.” This makes recommendation #7 even more telling.
There is no way that we can determine how many of our present serving members in the Air Force are members of the Association. The only direct contact we have with serving personnel would be through the 2400 magazines purchased by the Air Force and distributed internally. The magazine has a membership application form and that is the only means we have of recruitment.
The Task Force on Restructuring the RCAFA in 1989 made several recommendations that were all approved at the AGM ’89, to take “our message to the Air Force.” These included a Public Information Program (PIP) to provide, continually, information about the Association to Base newspapers, to obtain Wing involvement in the SCAN program and to re-establish the Air Force Liaison Officer program with Wings. These actions are no longer operative. In 1990 the Task Force conducted a random sample of Air Force personnel at six Air Force Stations to determine their attitude toward the Association (139 surveys were returned to the Chair of the Task Force).
One can suspect that the responses would now be much different due to reduction of personnel, closing of bases, the change in Mess life, etc. For example, 94% of the respondents in 1990 stated that they were aware of the existence of the Association — I would guess that would now be much lower; 59% had no knowledge of what the Association does — probably lower; in their minds the four most important aims were: Air Cadets, history and heritage, Benevolent Society and advocacy. Outside of the Benevolent Society, these responses are probably still relevant. One observation of the Task Force is undoubtedly still sound:
The general impression is that the present Air Force people simply do not know what we are about, but do display an interest in an Air Force Association that is focused, relevant, forward-looking, open and provides services and support. (Page 10)
We simply have to get the message “out to the troops” and it would appear to me that a recommendation made in 1990 still has validity.
Recommendation #8: That a brochure be developed by the A.F.A.C. similar to that of the Royal Air Force Association, which could be used for recruiting purposes and, furthermore, such a brochure bear an endorsement from the Commander of the Air Force. Such a brochure could also be useful for SCAN presentations.
It should be pointed out that the main goal of the A.F.A.C. is to advocate for a proficient and well-equipped Air Force in Canada and in conjunction with NCVA to advocate for improved benefits for those presently in the service and for improved pensions and compensation when they retire. This brochure can be contracted out and not be a burden on the staff. The brochure could be placed in the 2,400 magazines purchased by the Air Force or sent directly to all members in the Service by the Commander of the Air Force. It could also be sent to members of the Reserve.
The USAFA uses another recruiting technique that is effective. The Chief of Staff USAF and the Chief Master Sergeant of the USAF write to members of the USAF annually urging them to join the USAFA. It is thought provoking, but we need more thought before making a recommendation in this regard. It should also be noted that that was the case in 1990 and might not be operative in 2003.
We are well aware of the last two brochures published by our Headquarters which are attractive and informative, but it is suggested that one be directed at members of our Air Force and endorsed, if possible, by the Commander. His endorsement might prove effective.
Fred Way has referred to an earlier attempt to recruit people in the service. “We waited for the rush, however, reality entered the picture by the time they carried out their commitments to their family, their trade and their mess, there was not time nor money to do anything else.” But we simply must be more proactive in recruiting Service people than we have been in the past. Those presently in the Air Force must be convinced that we are not, as one respondent stated in the 1990 survey “a group of elderly gentlemen who focus too much of their attention on past RCAF achievements and not enough time on current problems and the future of the CAF.” If we spend our time on current problems and on the future of the CAF by informing them of what we are up to, we will be successful in this regard.
L. Royal Canadian Air Cadets
There was unanimous support that the Association be supportive to Air Cadets and a number of helpful suggestions were received. It was agreed that every effort be made to recruit C.I.C. officers into the Association. It was also suggested that the recruitment effort not be limited to those Wings sponsoring Air Cadet Squadrons. Ron Button pointed out that Wing #422 in North Bay does not sponsor the local Squadron but recently raised $13,000 to purchase an Air Cadet glider. Brian Darling suggested that recruiting not be confined to C.I.C. officers but be expanded to C.I.s, squadron volunteers and members of the Sponsoring Committees. Brian spoke at the Annual Meeting of the Air Cadet League in 2002 inviting attendees to join the Association and he also stated that the Quebec Group, in cooperation with the Quebec Provincial Committee, is considering a recruitment drive for the Association in that area.
The input I received re Aims and Objectives, strongly indicated support for Air Cadets. No one placed it lower than third place in the prioritizing of our aims and objectives and it is one thing that the Association does very well. Indeed, 43 of our Wings sponsor Air Cadet Squadrons and five of our Wings support more than one Squadron:
- Wing #110: 374 and 397
- Wing #306: 555 and 686
- Wing #413: 173 and 704
- Wing #600: 34, 41 and 703
- Wing #808: 205 and 207
There are also Wings that, although not sponsoring Squadrons per se, make financial contributions to Squadrons. It would be interesting, but probably unimportant, to determine the financial contribution to Air Cadets.
The strong and continual support of Wings to Ron Button’s Continuation Flying Awards Program is another example of the Association’s level of interest and support. Yet we have not been successful, in any way, in recruiting C.I.C. Officers to the Association. The same is true of ex-Cadets, but in that case, the age differential and the movement of 19-year-olders is an obvious reason for our lack of success. But why do we do so poorly with the C.I.C. Officers who are often the beneficiaries of our generosity.
C.I.C. Officers and staff fit neatly into that pool of potential members identified by Bill Bryce “who have some minor (even distant) connection with the military…who share a larger concern for the country and its aviation arm.”
Recommendation #9: That the 2nd V.P. of the N.E.C. responsible for membership contact the Wings sponsoring Air Cadet Squadrons and direct them to make a determined effort to recruit their C.I.C. Officers, the Civilian Instructors and volunteers to the Association.
M. Royal Canadian Air Force Trust
On this one, I received a remarkable “Right On!!!” from George Jr. and this comment from Don McLeod Sr. “There is no need to touch the Trust unless there is something Ron Button identifies as a requirement.” To that I respond, “Right On!!”
The Officers of the RCAF Trust are as follows: Ron Button (Chair); Bill Church (Vice Chair); Ed Walker and Ted Mahood (Trustees), Susan Longhurst (Secretary/Treasurer).
Ron Button does an admirable job of administering the Trust and campaigning for contributions. In 2001-2002, the Trust receipts amounted to $86,331 and five Wings (438, 484, 422, 412, 418) made contributions. In addition, #426 Sqd. Association made a contribution. The other contributors are individuals who make donations to the Trust, designating their money to a particular cause such as Air Cadets, Airforce Magazine, memorials, the Halifax Restoration Project, and the Benevolent Fund. In all cases, the donations are processed through the Trust resulting in the grant, and an income tax receipt is then issued by the Trust.
The Trust issues grants to the designated projects or activities, but the Trust also makes Trustee discretionary grants such as the RCAF Memorial Museum, the Foundation Aerovision Quebec, 8 Wing Pipe Band, the Normandy Foundation and the Yorkshire Museum. Funds were expended, most recently, for an Ad Astra Stone in memory of Christine Handler. In 2001-02, $95,459 was distributed and traditionally, the Trust has endeavoured to maintain a minimum balance of $20,000. Since 1989, the RCAFA Trust has disbursed a total of $714,667 “to worthy Air Force related projects.”
The Trust is admirably administered and brings great credit to the Association. Ron Button and his colleagues work tirelessly on the Association’s behalf. The staff support was first Christine Handler and, after her death, Karin Lacey provided assistance. Susan Longhurst was appointed Secretary/Treasurer on 23 September 2003.
Ron Button and his colleagues deserve our appreciation and gratitude and, once again, “if it works, don’t fix it.” The Trust surely works.
The two constant responses to this issue were “there is not much sense in suggesting additional services for members if it will result in additional burdens at NHQ” and “we should…retain the MasterCard affiliation.”
Since Merrill-Lynch withdrew from its investment scheme, MasterCard is the only service as such that the Association offers. As B.R. Campbell observed, it provides “an important source of Association income” in the area of $6,000 per year. There is some interest (Doug Mullen) in expanding these services (i.e.; aeroplan, Esso & Petro Canada discount) but National Headquarters has neither staff nor time to get involved.
I don’t believe there is sufficient interest to warrant a recommendation in this regard. That being said, Doug Mullen is in favour of additional services to members (i.e., Esso Business Plus card discount of 4% per month) and, perhaps, he can persuade his colleagues for additional services providing the staff is not required to do it.
- Three to Five Year Plan
Bill Church, Member of the Year in 2001 and former Comptroller, agreed to prepare a financial five-year forecast starting from 2002-2003 and Bob Tracy and the Chair subsequently sent him certain statistical information. At the end of February, he contacted me and stated that he was not able to prepare such a forecast for the March meeting of the N.E.C. He indicated that he did not have sufficient information on hand to do the forecast and that before one could be done the N.E.C. would have to make certain decisions; i.e., cost of replacements for Tracy, Aldworth and Handler, and new office costs. He also stated that Christine and he had worked on a five-year plan in 2001 and could benefit by working on the material that is located someplace in National HQ.
Accordingly, I recommended to the N.E.C. at its March meeting that Bill be invited to Ottawa and asked to prepare a five-year forecast for the A.F.A.C. and Air Force Productions. That request was approved, and Bill spent considerable time in Ottawa in August 2003 at the Headquarters. He has now prepared a budget forecast for 2004-2008 for A.F.A.C. and Air Force Productions. That forecast is now available to the N.E.C.
- The Royal Air Forces Association
In the Task Force on the Restructuring of the Royal Canadian Air Force (1989 and 1990), reference was made to the Air Force Association of the U.S., the Royal Air Forces Association, the Royal Australian Air Force Association and the Royal New Zealand Air Force Association. Although these associations have different aims and objectives than our own, we all serve the same constituency, ex-Air Force personnel, veterans and those interested in aviation.
We can certainly learn from each other and at the Royal Air Forces Association National Conference 2001, Air Commodore Mike Good R.A.F., made some cogent comments that could have been made at one of our own Annual Meetings. The general thrust was: The Air Force Association’s outdated image is a barrier to Membership Recruitment or why is the R.A.F.A. not attracting recruits from within the R.A.F. – sound familiar?
He called the relationship a great contradiction in that most in the R.A.F. believe the R.A.F.A. is a worthwhile organization, but few actually join. After canvassing all the Station Commanders in the R.A.F., he developed these reasons:
- The R.A.F.A. is perceived to be an ex-servicemen’s association, run by the “old and the bold” – a social club for the elderly.
- The R.A.F.A. is firmly rooted in the past – ultra conservative, a 60-70 age group; branches are rigid, authoritarian – anyone “not dressed in a blazer, badges and ties” are unwelcome.
- The R.A.F.A. is in irreversible decline – old stalwart members are not being replaced by younger members.
In outlining what attractions the R.A.F.A. could offer to members of the R.A.F., he listed what would be ineffective: comradeship—already have it; involvement—time at home is too precious; club atmosphere (read Wing)—nice to visit not to stay; cheap beer—have it; offers and discounts—yes, but can get better elsewhere; welfare (R.A.F.A. provides a number of such services)—they have the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund.
He also suggested what might be effective: an image makeover to make the Association more attractive to R.A.F. members but which, unfortunately, might alienate the present membership; educate the younger members about the aims of the Association while concentrating recruitment efforts on senior officers and NCOs. His conclusion is most apt.
We need to sell ourselves better—and we might need some professional outside advice on how to do this. We need to modernize our way of doing business, we need to define the Association’s purpose more clearly, advertise it more widely and trumpet our successes more loudly, because success breeds success. Both the Service and the public need to see more of the R.A.F.A.
It would seem to me that we could learn a great deal from A/C Good’s comments and what he recommends to the R.A.F.A. is equally applicable to the A.F.A.C.
This has been a rather interesting but labor-intensive exercise which I hope will assist the N.E.C. in its planning. It is a thoughtful summary of the thinking of a number of knowledgeable and experienced people in the Association who are all dedicated members. It has been fun working with them.