Reliving the (political) action of PAC Days 2013: An interview with a first-time PAC rep

Well PAC Days 2013 has come and gone. Each year, hundreds of REALTORS® from across the country come together for this annual advocacy conference to learn from political experts and advocate for organized real estate.

To help put PAC Days in perspective, I sat down with Lisa Cyr-Auld, a first time PAC rep from the Rideau-St. Lawrence Real Estate Board near Ottawa, to do a little post-mortem on this year’s conference and get a first timer’s perspective on the event.

Lisa was born and raised in Brockville and wound her way to the profession of real estate through a varied sales background. As she put it when I sat down with her on a sunny Thursday afternoon in May, “I had lived in pretty much every different type of real estate and thought becoming a REALTOR® could be for me… I already had a sales background so it was a progressive step.”

Armed with sales experience in fashion, home furnishings, appliances, and even a brief flirtation with cars sales, Lisa began her career in real estate in 2009. In January 2013, she became a member of her local Board’s Board of Directors. I asked how she decided to get involved as a PAC rep, a position which requires the rep to be the eyes, ears, and face of the Board on federal political advocacy initiatives. As she put it, it was a natural fit. “I’m a believer that people should be involved in their community. If you want to see change it should start with yourself… I’ve always had a tiny little passion for politics, always been interested… So from there, when [our President-elect] asked me about PAC I was like, yeah PAC would be interesting.”

Lisa describes the experience of her first PAC Days as exciting, overwhelming and fun. “There’s so much going on. It was really interesting.” Asked about her event highlight, Lisa mentions the media panel. A panel of seasoned Hill journalists, including Chantal Hebert, Rob Russo, and Don Martin, that discussed politics, debated and took questions for an hour. “I would say that was my highlight… I’ve always thought Chantal Hebert was Canada’s Christiane Amanpour. I enjoyed her, I enjoyed the whole panel.”

Our 2013 PAC Days Media Panel (left to right): Don Martin, Host, Power Play, CTV; Chantal Hébert, Political Columnist, Toronto Star; and Rob Russo, Ottawa Bureau Chief, Canadian Press

PAC Days is not just about seeing the big names though; it’s about coming to Ottawa to learn and to get a finger on the pulse of a place that can often seem isolated and distant from one’s average day to day. When I asked Lisa the most interesting thing she’d learned, she pointed to the many political conversations. For instance, how many people were excited about or feeling the threat of Justin Trudeau, elected just the week before PAC as Liberal leader. “It was definitely political… definitely a conversation going on,” she said.

She also cited that there was lots to learn about lobbying. It’s all about patience and perseverance, it requires a simple message repeated often. “Keep hitting, keep hitting, keep hitting. And you know, I think CREA is doing that… I think the job is being done and it’s being done effectively.”

And what of her plans for next year? Lisa says she’ll be there again, she also gave this advice to anyone thinking about getting involved, “I think everybody should be involved… but by the time you are involved, once you’ve done your first PAC Days, you’re only just over the overwhelming end of it… so I think you need to be there more than once.”

If you, like Lisa, are interested in CREA’s Federal Affairs efforts, visit our new interactive political action platform at to learn more about our advocacy initiatives and the different ways you can be involved!

Our former Government Relations Manager, Anna Laurence supported CREA’s Federal Affairs initiatives, liaised with our Federal Affairs Committee, and assisted our members with key advocacy issues. Prior to joining CREA, Anna was selected as one of 10 young professionals from across Canada to work with Government and Opposition Members of Parliament as part of the prestigious Parliamentary Internship Programme. She stays active by fencing, horseback riding, cycling, and playing soccer.

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