With PAC Days approaching (April 29-30, 2013), it seems an opportune time to reflect on the roots and purpose of this annual assemblage.
Way back in 1985, well prior to my debut as a blogger, REALTORS® thought of a great way to get noticed by government. Show up at the doors of Parliament… in large numbers.
This approach gave rise to so called Political Action Committee Days, or PAC Days. It’s made possible by a network of politically engaged and enthusiastic REALTORS® from all across the country who care about the communities in which they live. Though it’s a very basic idea, it has grown into one of the largest grassroots movements to converge in the capital each year.
At the first PAC Days in 1985, less than one hundred REALTORS® showed up and only four MPs took time out for us. Nowadays, over 300 PAC reps make the trip and trek to Parliament Hill. Last year, over 150 MPs met with PAC reps and learned what preoccupies our industry, our communities, and our clients.
Why go to all this trouble you ask?
First, for MPs “seeing is believing.” Appearing on the government’s doorstep in Ottawa demonstrates the strength of our voice, organizational capacity, and what we can accomplish together.
Second, it’s about relationships. Members of Parliament are people, too. Building a relationship with them just makes sense to anyone who has ever tried to pursue a constructive dialogue on anything. Making the trip shows personal passion and dedication, helps MPs remember who you are, where your priorities lie, and how you may be able to collaborate with them in the future.
Third, it’s a way to keep the PAC movement energized. Getting together with other advocates maintains enthusiasm and builds best practices. Over the years, CREA has also enhanced PAC Days by welcoming an impressive list of dynamic speakers on politics, media, and lobbying. Special guests have included comedian Rick Mercer, political commentators like Chantal Hebert, Don Martin, Rex Murphy, and Rob Russo, a multitude of MPs from across the country, and even some of Canada’s Right Honourables – Prime Minister Mr. Stephen Harper and former Prime Minister Mr. Jean Chrétien. This year, with Royal Canadian Air Farce comedian Jessica Holmes and Bill Clinton strategist James Carville set to speak, we won’t disappoint!
Finally, to REALTORS®, the ultimate benefit of showing up in Ottawa is an engaged and responsive government. A government that listens and chooses social and economic policies that make Canada a better place to live and do business – and that’s why and how you can make a difference.