Damage Prevention Hero – Senator Grant Mitchell

Damage prevention legislation, unencumbered by exemptions
or governance limitations, is the ultimate “Holy Grail” for the CCGA and its stakeholders. We can achieve harmonized best practices, develop definitive infrastructure- saving procedures, confirm root causes and societal costs through expanding data, and promote a unified damage prevention initiative and process, but until we
capture that Holy Grail, we will keep reaching for that ultimate goal. It is the one elusive piece that the CCGA, the Regional Partners of the CGA and our stakeholders can’t realize on their own. We need
someone like-minded who recognizes the challenge and understands how the pieces connect to deliver a solution.

A few years ago, the CCGA was invited to provide testimony to a Senate Standing Committee studying the safe transportation of hydrocarbons. We were the last witnesses to do so and focused our testimony on the damage prevention process and the need to request locates to preserve the integrity of Canada’s critical buried infrastructure. Our words made their way into the Senate report and shortly thereafter a motion was made in the Senate for the same Senate Standing Committee to study another related matter – One Call Systems and the Damage Prevention Process. The CCGA was invited back to
deliver testimony but this time we were the first among all witnesses to address the Committee. Our words would hopefully set the tone for those who followed. What happened was beyond our aspirations. We made a connection.

Senator Grant Mitchell was the Deputy Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources at that time and, with his colleagues on the Committee, he intently listened to our testimony; asking questions, seeking clarification and learning.

A report followed that included four recommendations. Among them, a recommendation that the federal government develop legislation requiring all federally- regulated underground infrastructure to register with a One Call system.

A few months after the report was published, I had lunch with Senator Mitchell and we talked about the report and how it had delivered a burst of hope to the CCGA. We talked about the recom-mendations and how important they were. I asked about legislation, “How could it be achieved?” Senator Mitchell explained the process and figuring I’d never get another chance, I remember conveying the CCGA’s gratitude and extolling how the report in itself was enormous for the CCGA and for damage prevention in Canada, but unless legislation followed, it would probably remain just another report. Within moments, it seemed, Senator Mitchell assigned his legislative assistant to arrange a meeting with Parliamentary Counsel to discuss the possibility of crafting legislation, a Senate bill, governing damage prevention for federally-regulated underground infrastructure. I remember walking back to my hotel thinking “did that just happen? Was it that simple all along?”

No, it wasn’t. This was the culmination of many years of effort by countless people before me. I just happened to be carrying the torch. And through Senator Mitchell, the CCGA had made a connection and now he was carrying our torch with us.

Senator Mitchell has been embraced by Canada’s damage prevention groupies, but it’s not just for what he is doing for the cause. It’s because of how he’s doing it. His energy is endless. His passion for Canada, Canadians, public safety and simply “doing the right thing” is infectious. And all the while, he continues to be one of the most approachable people I’ve ever met.

Earlier this year, I was in his office on Parliament Hill overlooking the Peace Tower with several of my colleagues. Just being inside the walls of the Parliament buildings is an honor so I can only imagine what it must be like to be entrusted with the duty of working for the betterment of Canadians. I
admire the way Senator Mitchell approaches every meeting, every challenge, every success and every setback with a humble “we’ll get it done” outlook. Being in his office that day, I began to understand where that comes from.

Senator Mitchell’s father was a career infantry officer in the Canadian Black Watch. He served in the Second World War and Korea, and was also deployed on an international observatory commission in Vietnam. Photographs commemorating his service, and his father’s medals, hang in Senator Mitchell’s office. When we met in his office that day, we asked about the photos. Senator Mitchell was proud to tell us about his father. He spoke very highly of him and how his service, sacrifice and courage inspired him in his own role. When your country comes calling, when they need you, you respond and you give it your all.

Senator Mitchell has given it his all. He has done more for damage prevention in Canada than anyone else in his capacity ever has. He has opened doors for the CCGA and provided avenues for our subject matter experts to navigate legislation development to completion. The CCGA’s mandate is only one piece of his day and in that respect, bestowing him with the honor of Damage Prevention Hero simply isn’t adequate. He approaches every challenge, every file and every solution with the same vigor, energy, strength and devotion.

In this department we honor the many unsung heroes in all stakeholder groups . Some of the most important damage prevention efforts are those at the grass roots level. These heroes include: locators, excavators, facility owners, technicians, people doing public awareness presentations, and executives who approve funding for effective damage prevention programs. We want to acknowledge people who are going above and beyond, and people who take actions that may prevent a damage or even save a life. Send your nominations to Michele@EmailIR.com.

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