11 Reasons to Love the Canadian Section Meeting (especially when it's in Montreal)
May 14, 2012I had the privilege of attending the Canadian Section meeting last week in Montreal, Quebec. Not only was the meeting one of the best attended sessions in recent memory, the program was outstanding, the fellowship inspirational, and the city – which I'd never previously visited – was one-of-a-kind. Here's my "Eleven Great" list from last week's festivities: 1) Top Notch Program: With sessions on everything from marketing our fraternal difference, to modernizing governance, to addressing regulatory challenges, the program had a little something for every segment of the membership. PowerPoints of all the sessions – which are just as applicable to U.S. domiciled societies as they are to Canadians – will be available on the Alliance Web site in the next week or so. 2) The Foresters’ Team: Toronto-based Foresters is the largest domiciled fraternal in Canada and several key executives from the organization delivered outstanding presentations on the dramatic changes their society has experienced over the past few years – changes that have led to a new brand, local chapter structure, and significant membership growth. You just won't see that type of sharing at other industry meetings – and that's something we really need to appreciate. 3) Regulatory Candor: The meeting featured several presentations from Canadian regulators, and both the regulators and the regulated were able to lay their cards face up on the table and discuss issues – solvency, governance, relevance – important to both. It's that kind of candid, honest, and upfront relationship that will help societies work with regulators to secure a stable future for those societies that want to fulfill their unique business and social missions. 4) Embracing the Consolidation: I got the feeling that the Canadian-domiciled societies were very enthusiastic about their recent consolidation with the Alliance. There are many new opportunities for partnerships and networking on both sides of the 49th parallel and the more we can foster them, the better we'll be for it. 5) Au Francais: It's exceptionally wonderful to come downstairs for your first cup of coffee and be greeted with a "Bon Jour." A 90-minute flight from Chicago takes you a world away. 6) Schwartz's: Montreal's self-proclaimed "Palace of Smoked Meats." Have a "daily special" sandwich and a giant dill pickle and you'll have consumed a month's worth of sodium, but, good Lord, is it delicious. 7) Patisseries: Follow that sandwich with a little something from the city's seemingly unlimited number of patisseries (a chocolate croissant or a pistachio "macaron") and you may not want to return to the states. 8) Art: It's everywhere in Montreal: galleries, museums, statutes tucked in narrow alleys, on the sides of buildings. The entire city is a canvas. 9) Kilts: You always know the executives from the Sons of Scotland... 10) The Canadian Version of SportsCenter: 20 minutes of National Hockey League coverage; 15 minutes of North American minor league hockey coverage; 10 minutes of international hockey competition coverage; 10 minutes of Canadian junior hockey coverage; 5 minutes for all other sports. 11) Cubans: Really, is the boycott of Cuban cigars really making a difference anymore? Let's reinstitute trading with the island by starting with a shipment of Monte Cristo #4's!!! Can't wait for next year's meeting! Canadian Quiz: What does the small "H" inside the large "C" on the Montreal Canadians' hockey sweaters stand for?