(WINDSOR, ON) – In its usual fashion, the local CBC outlet was gushing, on January 5, about so-called high-profile, “… movers and shakers in Canada’s auto industry … heading to Windsor to discuss a national auto strategy.”
Don’t be fooled. No real movers and shakers in the industry will be harmed by what is being dubbed as simply Useless Meeting Part Deux.
The real industry leaders will not be wasting their time chit chatting with the likes of Matt Marchand, who heads the local chamber of commerce.
Who can forget the big meeting, eons ago, when he got together with the local auto union and some academics to spend a wasted day discussing a jobs strategy for the region. It was such a memorable occurrence the actual date is long forgotten.
The fact he is at it again proves nothing happened.
As odd as it may sound, this big May 11 wingding of a gabfest, by people who don’t create jobs, will be about as far removed from reality as Part Un. This seemed nothing if not confirmed when the public broadcaster went ahead and talked with Marchand.
He was duly reluctant to, “… say whether representatives from the auto sector will be in attendance.” How could such a meeting about the future of an industry not have representatives of that industry?
Granted, this new time waster might, and the operative word is might, have some big names of people who have affiliations with the automakers.
Jerry Dias, president of Unifor was mentioned but, hilariously, said the CBC, “Stuart Laidlaw, spokesperson for Unifor, couldn’t immediately confirm the attendance of Dias.”
Marchand was also dropping the name of Ray Tanquay, Ontario’s newly appointed auto czar. But, the broadcaster found out, the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development was not sure if he would be among the talkers.
OMED’s spokesperson, Brigitte Marleau, was said to be, “… checking on whether Tanguay is, in fact, attending in May.”
There was even talk of Perrin Beatty, the revered Canadian Chamber president, being on board. However, the CBC was unable to confirm this.
It seems Marchand might be pulling pages from Sandra Pupatello’s playbook workbook. Nice of her to lend it to him, because it is filled with fascinating instructions on how to look and be seen as important.
Pupatello, who stepped down from running the regional economic development office, after not doing much development, had a modus operandi of popping up every three months or so to seek publicity, whether she needed to or not.
The local media gladly obliged, and breathlessly covered every one of her stunts.
Not one traditional reporter had the temerity to question the illogic of the pursuits Pupatello was pursing. The most geographically challenged was her telling the Edmonton Journal, on November 27, 2014, about Windsor being, “… on the same longitude as the Napa Valley.”
The most frivolous was her tweeting Hollywood, some three months after her appointment. In 140 characters, she valiantly tried to convince the movie-making centre to pack up and relocate to Essex. For some unknown reason it didn’t.
Marchand might well be a Pupatello admirer and quickly figured out that talk is cheap.
Doing something that does something, anything, is a far sight harder and seems almost impossible. Having a meeting to set a strategy for an industry that will be done without the industry there, is like having doctors do appendectomies without patients.
About all it does is get some time on the evening television news.
Maybe that is what Marchand is up to. Possibly, if he is good at this illusion of being up to something, he might want to try and get on the famed television program Penn and Teller Fool Us. Although few have, who knows, he might fool the magicians.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.