Make Canada great. Again

Canadian business advantage with government of Canada

It seems like an obvious statement, but, in fact, it is not the case (in my experience) that the government of Canada will work to secure contracts with Canadian business. 

Several years ago, I bid on a government contract to train elite military members on rally-driving skills. As you can imagine, the competitive field for the bid was pretty thin.

Initially, because of my expertise in rally driving and driver training, we queried the request to tender because of serious flaws in the requested training protocol.

Among other things was a request to train in trucks without a roll cage, which is simply a recipe for a very bad accident.

There were other issues that we questioned with the result being that Canada went back to revamp the Request for Proposal. They said they would present a new one as soon as possible. 

I assumed, after talking on the phone and email with the person involved with the bid, that we would be notified since there were only three or four companies that had bothered to even tender.

What we did know is that nobody could compete with our team of skilled rally drivers, including a world rally champion, a British rally champion and a Western Canadian rally champion (www.cm2driverdevelpment.com).

A few months later, I checked online because I had not heard anything and noticed that documents had been re-posted.

The deadline for submission had passed.

I quickly called to explain that I was expecting to be notified to prepare a new bid. “Too bad so sad” was the response I received from Canada.

I should have been watching more closely.

Frankly, I understand their point and if I had lost a bid to a Canadian company I would have not been so pissed off, but when I learned that the bid was given to a Florida company, I was very annoyed. 

In checking the other day, that company received over $1.5 million over five or six years.

It went to a company in a country that is now openly hostile to free trade with their neighbours, charges tariffs on goods at will and threatens any progress with aggressive trade barriers.

Meanwhile. we are forced to offer American wines in grocery stores!

I think it may be time for Canada to review it’s procurement policies. Let’s make Canada Great Again.


Hug a S&R tech

Search and Rescue Technicians Should Be Compensated

Earlier this year, the provincial government did a U turn on taking away funding from what is one of the most important emergency functions in B.C. —  Search and Rescue. 

The disciplines of your local search and rescue team are many.

More than likely they are trained and qualified in many dangerous skills including:

  • Swiftwater Rescue
  • Mountain Rescue
  • Helicopter Long Line Rescue
  • Glacier Rescue
  • Avalanche Rescue
  • Ground Search and Rescue
  • Steep Angle Rescue

Additionally, some local teams will also do motor-vehicle Incidents in their region and can extricate you from a vehicle, provide first responder first aid and stabilize your car that may have ended up down a steep bank. 

To do this, a lot of recurrent training and technical equipment is needed so when the provincial government announced it was ceasing funding, the natural question among SAR volunteers was:

“why am I doing this”?

The answer is simple, because, like the military, fire department, police and ambulance personnel, they cannot walk past someone in need of help. 

Unlike all of the above, however, they are not paid.

It is a 100% volunteer system. 

I guess, it has become a habit to volunteer to perform one of the most critically needed services in B.C.

In fact, B.C., because of our mountainous and swift river environment, is a leader in search and rescue industry worldwide.

The problem is, it is not an industry here. It is a hobby.

Volunteers commit hundreds of hours a year to training and put themselves at risk to become skilled at disciplines that allow them to rescue an injured or lost person in a very challenging environment. 


  • your mother is missing from her home after going for a walk
  • your son is trapped on a log jam in a river
  • you are stuck in a mountain environment after getting lost

you will be glad that an extremely well-trained volunteer technicians show up with a smile on their face, some specialist equipment, warm food and perhaps even builds a shelter for you to survive one more night in the bush. 

“Thank you” is good enough for the army of volunteers, but we should never ever consider pulling funding for training and equipment in B.C. 

Skip the margins

The recent trends in home delivery of restaurant cooked food may not be healthy for the restaurant industry. 

Aside from the atrocious parking habits of the delivery drivers and the lateness in picking up the prepared food, the impact on the restaurant itself may be negative enough that your food may end up never being picked up let alone delivered.

The point is the Skip The Dishes concept has always been around. Certainly in the U.K., we would drive to the closest Indian restaurant, order the food, a beer and wait for the food to be prepared which usually took one other beer.

The net result for the restaurant was that they sold the food at retail price, they managed to get an order for several pints of beer and we didn’t occupy a table plus we tipped the restaurant staff.

Fast forward to our hyper-convenient society and we struggle to raise an arm to type in an order to Skip The Dishes or a similar service and while we uncork another bottle of wine, we simply wait while our favourite restaurant goes out of business. 

As some of you who have read my columns before know, I am not a big fan of the middle guy.

Take crowd funding for instance. It takes the dollars my charity donors would have given me directly and gives me what is left after they have taken the commission. But what is the commission for?

Well, it turns out that it is nothing other than a search engine optimized website and some outsourced infrastructure that takes my money and charges 10%. 

That is partly tolerable but with Skip The Dishes it is going a step further. It takes a disproportionate fee (around 25%) of the cost of the food, plus the restaurant looses the tip and drink sales. 

The restaurant industry is one of the most margin sensitive industries and must operate within narrow tolerances to maintain profitability. Twenty-five per cent is well beyond the typical restaurant’s margin which means that the restaurant is giving away their food. They make no money, plus no tip for staff.

If you would like to maintain a healthy restaurant environment in your town, my advice would be to skip Skip The Dishes. 


An inspiring young lady

Last week, while speaking in the U.S.,I met a young lady who had recently started a plumbing business.

On the way to the convention that we were both presenting at, she indicated that she was talking about a project to help inmates in U.S. prisons to prepare to start a business. 

We had a fascinating talk that led me to ask her about how she came across the program.

“While I was incarcerated” was the answer and then there was an awkward pause before I wondered how she came to be incarcerated. 

I learned that a few wrong decisions had led to a period of time where she robbed several banks and was sentenced to 15 years in prison and had to leave her five-year-old son in someone else’s care. 

I am sure it is not a unique story, but it was the first time I had had such a conversation. What struck me as I questioned her further was how genuine she was in wanting to fit in to society, which, by all accounts, is not easy when you have a criminal record.

She had immersed herself in education and was well on her way to completing an undergraduate degree and moving in to a master's and had been successful in going through her mentoring program to start a business, ultimately winning a “pitch event” and getting some seed capital to get going. 

I found her immensely polite and engaging and she clearly had an unconditional love for her family and community who did nothing but love her after she was found guilty of her crimes. 

Thankfully for her, because of the support she received, the commitment she made to get an education and pursue her business, her sentence was reduced to nine years. She had been a free citizens for only five months when I met her.

She truly was an inspiration to many people.

If the U.S. could now find an inspiring leader who unites the country, they will be on a better path I believe.

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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