VOCL 007 – Now That’s a Bang!

Twitter Show Summary: The NB Study Group’s 3rd day on the road.  Places visited included Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, the Military Family Resource Centre, an artillery training exercise, tours of Irving Oil and JD Irving facilities, a dinner with Saint John business people at Lily Lake, and a night living in military recruit quarters. Intro Hi […]

Written By chris

On May 5, 2013

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Show Summary: The NB Study Group’s 3rd day on the road.  Places visited included Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, the Military Family Resource Centre, an artillery training exercise, tours of Irving Oil and JD Irving facilities, a dinner with Saint John business people at Lily Lake, and a night living in military recruit quarters.


Hi there!  Welcome to the 7th episode of the Voices of Canadian Leadership podcast.

         Voices of Canadian Leadership page now on LinkedIn

 Summary of GGCLC so far:

A broad range of speakers from academia, business, and non-profit.

Already started touring NB, speaking with non-profit, businesses and political figures (including the Premier and Lt Gov.)

 We will now look at the main topic of the show – the New Brunswick Study Group’s 3rd day on the road as part of the 2012 GGCLC.

 Let’s go back in time!

 NB – Day 3 in New Brunswick – 6 June 2012

Day 3 started off with a bang – well, not quite right away. After a final breakfast at Saint Thomas University, we said goodbye to Larry Batt and went back on the bus. We quickly traveled to Oromocto, home of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown. We got there a little early (schedule “hiccup”) so folks had a chance to shop in the local store called “CANEX”. Several souvenirs were purchased as they bore the yellow ribbons espousing that we should “Support Our Troops”.

We made our way to the Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC), where we were greeted by Colonel Paul Rutherford (Base Commander) and Chief Warrant Officer Claude Chouinard (Regimental Sergeant Major). Gagetown is the 2nd largest base in Canada (1,100 km2) and has a focus on training soldiers and officers to operate at home and abroad.  This includes various occupations such as infantry, engineer, armoured, and artillery. He highlighted that there are currently have 950 men and women (primarily from Gagetown) serving in Afghanistan.

Col Rutherford believes that the Canadian Forces (CF) has the ability to build leadership qualities, citizenship, and teamwork. Leadership styles have evolved over time; “transformational leadership” and leadership training, in general, has resulted in the increasing use of “soft skills”. Senior personnel are always concerned about the state of morale of their troops. Personal assessment of the troops is an essential part of the feedback process – troops are rated on both performance AND potential.

The CF is good at introspection (looking back at what happened as part of the After Action Review process) and projection (how do we incorporate the good and eliminate the bad). Part of the process is focussed around environmental sustainability. With such a large area, they work with the Province and other agencies to ensure that environmental concerns (water courses, fish, birds, contamination) are addressed. After every major undertaking, there is always a follow-up, including remedial measures, investing $12m annually.

We were then introduced to Beth Cory, Executive Director of the Gagetown MFRC, and a cadre of her supporting staff covering the numerous social programs that they deliver. They don’t want to be a one-stop-shop; rather, they build on existing community services but tailor their support to the special needs of the military community. Gagetown sees an influx of French-speaking families every year and prepares English-speaking families that will be going to French areas – the variables surrounding bilingualism are prevalent here. This aspect is very closely related to the concept of change/flux – the latter was to be repeated by almost every speaker.

Not only are military members challenged by their responsibilities in safeguarding Canada, but their career impacts their families as well. Moms/dad/husbands/wives can leave for very long times, sometimes with very little notice. For those people who have married someone already in the Forces, they likely have an idea of the challenges that they are about to face. For those married people who have someone just entering the Forces (the age demographic is getting older) or for their children, the impact of a missing spouse/parent can be a difficult issue to cope with. As such, the MFRC bolsters these people with information about the deployment cycle and what they can expect at every stage (akin to the 5 stages of loss), provide regular/emergency/respite daycare, and have a wide variety of programs to ensure that the families left behind are not left isolated – especially if the Gagetown members are being sent away to high-risk areas.

Colonel Paul Rutherford and Chief Warrant Officer Claude Chouinard (both standing, L to R)

Colonel Paul Rutherford and Chief Warrant Officer Claude Chouinard (both standing, L to R)

In dealing with the issues of Gagetown, the local MFRC has also created a new program to address the effect of CF-personnel-based Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Occupational Stress Injury (OSI), on children. The Youth of Parents who have Experienced Trauma (YPET) program looks at varied learning activities to help children/youth understand what is happening and to connect them with other kids who are in a similar situation.  This program will be launched nationwide and is likely to be proposed to other demographics where OSIs are of concern (firefighting, police, etc.).

Any remaining drowsiness by conference members was quickly erased by our next activity. We went into the indoor small arms firing range to fire rifles, rocket launchers, and pistols, but we remained safe the entire time – the range is actually a simulator. The high-tech system uses a slew of lasers and sensors to provide feedback on shooter accuracy when firing at the projection screen ahead of them. Since realism is a key component of training the weapons are made to feel as heavy as the original and are fitted with pneumatic systems to simulate the recoil of the weapon. To complete the experience, realistic sounds come out of speakers so that you almost forget that you are firing at a screen. Our group had some very good shooters; others, well, it’s a good thing that they have chosen other careers…

CFB Gagetown Smalls Arms Trainer

CFB Gagetown Smalls Arms Trainer

Eric Prud'homme and a rocket launcher

Eric Prud’homme and a simulated rocket launcher

Continuing on the military theme, we were brought onto a real firing range to observe artillery troops conduct training. Before the demonstration we got to have lunch (“haybox meals”) with the troops, composed of both full-time (Regular) and part-time (Reserve) people. It was great to mingle with them and get their perspectives on military life and what they considered to be components of sustainable communities. Lunch having been completed (chicken kebabs, corn, potatoes, and onion soup), we moved closer to the artillery pieces to observe their training.

Led by Major Tim Spears, we were exposed to how the artillery doubles checks everything that they do, from initial spotting to targeting to observing where the rounds fall. This system is very rapid, yet highly necessary since the impact of mistakes on your own troops (or any other non-target entity) would be deadly. The initial firing made several people jump – it was quite the remarkable bang! Throughout the demonstration, we could see that the troops looked proud at what they could do, and were most eager to show us how well they could do it. The demonstration concluded with an over-flight by an unmanned aerial vehicle. This system, akin to playing a video game but with a really small plane in the air, allows for the operator to use various cameras to see ahead of where they are but with no risk to the actual troops. It looked so much like a bird; they told us that it had previously been attacked by a bird of prey (falcon ?) since it looked so lifelike.

Major Tim Spears

Major Tim Spears

Now traveling to Saint John, our first stop was at the Irving Oil refinery. Led by General Manager Mark Sherman, we were introduced to the various products and components of a refinery. Since everyone in the group drives vehicles, we got an insight into how much of crude oil actually makes it into gasoline, what drives the prices at the pumps, the impacts of foreign currency sensitivities, and where the rest of the products are shipped. Aside from the facts and figures, we were introduced to the various aspects of the oil industry. Safety is not a priority, but rather a core value – safety is paramount. The issues surrounding environmental cleanliness, emissions, odours, and shipping of oil versus pipelines led to some interesting discussions. We also got a bus tour of the expansive refinery facilities as well as the Cannaport facilities (crude tanker offloading port).

Mark Sherman

Mark Sherman

The end of the Cannaport tour resulted in the beginning of the JD Irving facilities.  Mark Mosher, Vice President, Pulp & Paper, oversaw a presentation of the forestry and food aspects of Irving. It is the 5th largest private landowner in North America (3.4 million acres) and is the largest in Canada. Environmental concerns regarding air contamination, odour, waste products were all discussed, but the conference members specifically focussed on the impacts of clearcutting, even with the Irving sustainable forestry initiative being in effect.

JD Irving Pulp and Paper facility

JD Irving Pulp and Paper facility

The group also discussed initiatives such as the Partners Assisting Local Schools (PALS) program designed to increase rates of high-school graduates and post-secondary entrants. A key point emphasized was that Irving salaries (through numbers of employees and monetary levels) create significant economic spinoffs in the communities where Irving is found. From a personnel perspective, this was the first time that the group was exposed to an unionized environment. During the tour of the pulp & paper plant, it was highlighted that there are 311 employees – 70 staff and 241 union. They were quite proud that there had been no layoffs for over 20 years.

The evening closed with a great supper at the Lily Lake Pavilion, with the entrance guarded with a memorial statue erected to honour workers that have been killed or have been injured on the job. It was a good opportunity to meet with local business leaders; Bob Manning gave a presentation about the business community in Saint John. Highlighting several patents and “firsts”, Bob painted the scene of Saint John as a place where people can imagine opportunities and bring them to life. Various initiatives have resulted in “aha!” moments when it was realized that communities that retain people tend to develop better innovation and tend to be more prosperous in the long run.

Dinner at Lily Lake Pavillion

Dinner at Lily Lake Pavillion

The impact of cruise ship tourism on the economy was discussed. Being the 3rd largest port of call in Canada, Saint John can have up to 3 cruise ships in port on any given day; 15,000 people in the core is great for business! Aside from our oil/forestry tours earlier in the day, the success of Radian6 and Q1 labs was used to demonstrate the potential of IT business within New Brunswick. This is in spite of the acknowledged concerns of the state of education within the province – the area may have to bring in qualified workers from across Canada or even abroad.

Although this entry has much detail so far, we must nevertheless continue the tale. The bus journeys (so far) normally serve as a chance to reset and prepare for the next event. There are also discussions about what we had seen during the previous event, largely to see if anything had been missed. This time, however, we decided to use the Talking Stick format as introduced by the Lieutenant Governor during yesterday’s visit. At first, we did not have the discipline of listening. For the first five minutes we were constantly forced to correct each other for breaking the rules and speaking out of turn – there were so many thoughts that needed to be expressed!

We gradually settled down into a pattern, and perhaps for the first time we became truly open to expressing not just our observations but also of our emotions about what we had experienced in the visit so far. People that had initially been quieter at the start of the process became fully involved in the discussions. We talked about where we had been, but more importantly where we felt we needed to go in order to best answer the questions that had been asked of us at the start of the conference. It is starting to become apparent why previous participants have called this a life-altering event. For some, the experience was described as beginning to take off the blinders that we hadn’t realized were there. Powerful stuff.

One Response to NB – Day 3 in New Brunswick – 6 June 2012

  1.  Beth Corey says: June 7, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Congratulations NB Study Group! Sounds like you have figured out the forming and group performing! Breaking down the barriers to allow real communication is a useful leadership tool! Love your blogs and reading about your reflections and learnings! It was a pleasure hosting you at CFB Gagetown! Appreciate each other and enjoy the ride! This is the most unique leadership opportunity of your life! Hope to see you soon! Beth

Breakfast at STU

  • 0700 start – with Larry Batt.  Former conference attendee and awesome guy.
  • Staying two nights at STU was a great chance to get caught up on some laundry.

Base Commander (Col Paul Rutherford) – CFB Gagetown (Oromocto, NB)

  • The base is like a small community.
  • 5000 soldiers serve regularly.  Base spikes up by 2k-3k during summer months due to Reserves training
  • Members are proactive in the community – sports, non-profits, etc.
  • Get to serve across the country – get a broad perspective of Canada
  • The toughest part of the Base Commander position – educating on the role of the CF during austerity measures, answering questions regarding why should we invest billions in an infrastructure that has not been invaded in centuries.
  • Continued focus on training in leadership
  • Breakdown of performance and potential – mechanism that tries to avoid the “Peter Principle” (coined by Vancouver-born Laurence J. Peter in 1968 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_J._Peter) (getting promoted beyond the level of their ability or “rising to the level of incompetence”) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle

Military Family Resource Centre (Beth Corey) – CFB Gagetown

  • Whatever the military members are feeling, it reflects in the families
  • Not-for-profit organization – military families are doing this themselves to help their community
  • Gagetown is one of 32 MFRCs – the MFRCs all look different since the communities are different
  • Have volunteers (150-200) – 1000s of hours
  • Everything that every Canadian family should have, but with a military perspective.  Note rank has no matter with the MFRC.
  • Q – Funding (previous day’s not-for-profits) – are funding cuts coming to MFRC?  One of the “haves” for not-for-profits.  The infrastructure provided by the military.  Public funding has decreased but there is a baseline.  No fundraising – don’t want to undercut local initiatives.
  • The Youth of Parents who have Experienced Trauma (Y.P.E.T.) program didn’t exist – they saw a need and didn’t wait for someone to create a program (leaders see a need and take action).
Controlling unmanned aerial vehicles

Controlling unmanned aerial vehicles

Artillery Exercise (Maj Tim Spears) – CFB Gagetown

Key issues regarding sustainability based on soldier perspectives:

  • Leadership
    • Chain of Command (hierarchy), intent (expectations) and empowerment (leader stating the intent), trust and dedication, common purpose, encouraging innovation (RadioShack camera on a stick), consultation, discipline, mentorship, transparency, proactive, adaptable
  • Sustainability
    • Adaptable organization, partnering with community including community activities (volunteers), and networking, child care, steady funding
  • Challenges
    • uncertainty for future, funding, relationship building
  • Empowerment was emphasized several times.
Waiting for the artillery rounds to fall

Waiting for the artillery rounds to fall

Irving Family

  • Irving synonymous with New Brunswick (joke that Irving owns New Brunswick)
  • The Bouctouche-born patriarch was K.C. Irving – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K._C._Irving
  • Privately owned, but value estimated in the billions
  • Created Irving Oil, took over J.D. Irving (Forestry) from father
  • Many other businesses are vertically integrated and thus keeping profits “within the family”.  The scope of the “family” (e.g., Midland Transport, Kent Building Supplies, Cavendish Farms, Royale paper towels, to name a few) can be seen at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._D._Irving

 Irving Oil Refinery (Mark Sherman and David Simon)

  • 41 refineries worldwide have closed over the last 3.5 years.
  • A refinery on 780 acres of land brings in imported crude (100m barrels) and splits them into various components (44% is gasoline)
  • 250,000b and 500,000b crude tanks (17 in total)
Model of Irving Cannaport facility for off-loading LNG

Model of Irving Cannaport facility for off-loading LNG

  • How do you measure environmental cleanliness?  Emissions?  Largest refinery and smallest refineries are the cleanest – why is that?  Mostly due to investment in clean air equipment.  Each province has different levels of acceptable emissions (water, air, etc.)  You can continue to add on new pieces.  Although this is an older refinery, it’s actually quite modern.
  • 104 ships came in to Canaport in 2011
  • Only port in East can take Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC)
  • 14m barrels of liquid carried on any given day
  • Pipelines are hot potato across country – Socialization (afraid of great big carriers, but pipeline is safe)
  • Terrorism of the pipeline is not a big concern
  • 80% of product goes to the US
  •  Very sensitive to foreign currencies.  Gas prices are legislated – prices are set.  Allowed to add $0.03 for manufacturing, $0.03cents for retail.   Margin is a couple of cents per litre in refinery
  •  A big company in a small town tends to make you the bad guy.  Old history is a factor.  Very close to the existing housing development that was there before the refinery was built in 1960.  Occasional complaints re: noise and smell.  It’s the best paying jobs in the area, though.
  • Competing with Alberta wages – can make a regional adjustment so not matched $ for $.
  • 1200 employees (700 Irving (non-union), 500 maintenance contractor (union)) attrition rate 1% / aging demographic / not a lot of jobs
  • Safety is a core value.  392 days without a work lost time injury (but still has to be “trade relevant”) (392 IS BEST EVER (RIF – Recordable Injury Frequency).  Celebrated in May, = 3.5m man hours.  80% improved based on training / cultural shift
  • Other interests include gas stations (Big Stop are Irving, Circle K = “couche-tard” from Quebec (they collect for Irving)) the local paper and several radio stations
LNG Buoy model

LNG Buoy model

 JD Irving (Mark Mosher)

  • http://www.jdirving.com/
  • 15,000 employees (predominantly NA workers)
  • Values of the company circle around the values of the owner
  • Social responsibility – PALS program (Partners Assisting Local Schools)
  • Fisheries and fish stocking programs
  •  “NB is a forestry province” – 50% is privately owned.  1/8th of province owned by Irving (50% is government, 30% is woodlots, 20% owned by private business) – Irving is the largest owner.
  • Forest management planning is part of the sustainability vision (looking ahead 80-100 years).  Forest takes 50 years to grow.  Map how they will harvest over the next 25 years.  Audited by 3rd party companies.
  • Planted over 850m trees – largest private tree improvement program in Canada.
  • You can not change the species mix (provincial law) – now planting 3 types of trees at once.
  • Cut 1-2% of land base (***68,000 acres***) in any year, opening size is closely monitored, but there is an impact on wildlife.
  • 75% of the harvested area is done by clear-cut – 25% is strip-cut – softwood more likely to be clear-cut than hardwood.  Definitions found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clearcutting
  • Investment in forest protection (fire, insects, and disease prevention).  If you can spray a tree within 1.5 weeks of growth, it should be inoculated for life from spruce budworm.  Can’t afford another provincial spruce budworm spray program.
  • Mill is $1.5B investment, Only P&P in NA that operates without a landfill
  • Mid-80s efforts to address air contamination and odour concerns
  • Reductions in emissions over the past 5 years
  • Nearly 100% of the wood chips entering the mill exit as paper.  Sell and buy chips from competitors – better than having loaded trucks passing each other on highway
  • Awards for energy efficiency and quality
  • 62% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

PwC & Irving Oil Dinner in Hatheway Pavilion at Lily Lake (Bob Manning)


Labour memorial statue at Lily Lake Pavillion - Gouled

Labour memorial statue at Lily Lake Pavillion – Gouled

Labour memorial statue at Lily Lake Pavillion - Miles

Labour memorial statue at Lily Lake Pavillion – Miles

  • Saint John (https://saintjohn.ca/en) and (http://discoversaintjohn.com/) dominated by a few large companies
  • “Imagine the Possibilities” – 1500 ideas generated.  Emergent themes included:
    • Regional cooperation
    • Regional planning (particularly transportation)
    • Fostering knowledge and innovation
    • Supporting catalyst projects
  • Output can be seen in Saint John – life on your terms (http://www.saintjohnlifeonyourterms.ca/main.html)
  • Cruise ship – 3rd largest port of call for cruise ships in Canada, and anticipate overtaking Halifax in 2-3 years (Halifax looks forward to the challenge!)
  • Digital inclusion is a priority in Saint John – much repetition regarding broadband.
  • St John demographic – perception is blue-collar industrial city (that was 15 years ago)
  • Industries are hiring a greater percentage of the university- and college-educated people.  NB is last in K-12 assessments.  Trying to attract intellectual youth.
  • “Gov’t get out of the way” – 750,000 people regulated by a disproportionate ratio of public service

Night at CFB Gagetown

  • 16 to a room
  • No electrical outlets
  • No wifi – gasp!
  • Communal showers
  • Starting to capture key leadership themes to create a “heat map”.

Listener Feedback

No responses to Bill’s question.

Article Megan Biro on “The New Rules of Leadership” (VOCL 003).  Bill Gomez writes, “I fully understand the new dynamics of the new work environment, but can’t help wondering where this will all lead. Continually developing and learning new tools in order to be more marketable in this brave new world of borderless business can only lead people down the path of greater stress in life. The part I really liked was that of the boss ensuring he understands what everyone in the organization is doing in order to achieve goals. Managers also need to understand that our young folks today are smarter on the ways of the world than us when we were younger. Engage them and challenge them to come up with a better way of doing business and streamlining your processes. You’ll be surprised at what they come up with.”

Resources and Articles

Alan Kearns (“Canada’s Career Coach” and founder of Career Joy) http://www.careerjoy.com/.  Three main blogs – Monday Morning Motivator, the Jump Day Report and the Friday Leadership report.  Also has a podcast – approximately 100 episodes (primary focus on career coaching).

“Drop and give me 30 private member’s bills: UBC gearing up to run Canada’s first political bootcamp” by Sarah Boesveld at the National Post

Non-partisan program created by UBC’s Center for Study of Democratic Institutions.  Includes former Reform leader Preston Manning, former Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan and former BC premier Mike Harcourt.  $475.

Topics – representative government, constituency work, communications, parliamentary roles / procedures, legislation and relationships.

Aspiring politicians – apply now (I don’t see a deadline) http://www.democracy.arts.ubc.ca/.  I hope that this program is successful and that it runs for many years.

(Original article has been deleted)


“Leadership Tips for Cross-Silo Success” by Nancy Dearman and John Kotter at Forbes.com

Barriers to overcome:

  • Lack of (peripheral) knowledge
  • Uncertainty about where the organization as a whole needs to go
  • Perceived lack of permission

Hierarchies can be effective in terms of organizations, but can lead to lack of cooperation amongst departments (ties in to Bill England’s question)

Uncertainty/ perception – addressed by the military participants in today’s show.  How good are you and your organizations at addressing these concerns?


I’m Chris Hache, asking you to be VOCL for a better Canada.


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