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Home » Officer Columns » Canadian Office Prepares for Busy Season

Canadian Office Prepares for Busy Season

  -  AFM Vice President from Canada

Pour voir cet article en français, cliquez ici.

As we enter the spring and summer seasons, the Canadian Office will be embroiled in a plethora of negotiations, both for successor and new agreements. Added to that is a very busy conference and convention schedule, beginning with the Canadian Labour Conference’s celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike in mid-May. A significant event in Canadian history, the six-week action resulted in many labour reforms followed by a golden age of prosperity for the labour movement.

This celebration will be followed quickly by an International Federation of Musicians (FIM) conference on freelance musicians, hosted by the Danish union. Mere days after its conclusion, we’ll be on our way to Las Vegas for AFM International Executive Board meetings, various regional conferences, and the AFM 101st Convention.

On April 5, an era came to an end in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with the passing of Peter J. Power, longtime president of Local 571. I first met Power in 1987, when I attended the AFM Convention as a new delegate from Local 467 (Brantford, ON). From the very beginning, he impressed me as being a local officer who cared more about his membership than he did about his title.

He was not always in the majority during discussions and debate with his peers; in fact, more often than not, he enjoyed little or no support from others, but they gave him his due. It became clear that this was because Power was not content to rubber stamp recommendations and proposals; he first satisfied himself that he understood the impact the action would have on the members of Local 571 and that it was for the right reasons. It was never about what Power wanted, it was about what he believed his members deserved.

He was a “Federation guy.” Inspired by former AFM President James C. Petrillo, Power would try to emulate and adopt those values. Early on, it worked well, but later, predictably, the younger membership was more critical of that leadership style.

When the huge financial package of the Blue Ribbon Committee was presented in 1991, Power saw that his members would take a financial hit if he supported the recommendations of the joint Law and Finance committees. Yet, as a tremendously vocal and demonstrative supporter of the American Federation of Musicians of the US and Canada, he was capable of envisioning the complete picture. He voted for the health of the larger body knowing he would take heat at home. 

Later, when I visited Halifax as an international representative, my duties included financial and operational audits of the office. Power was always co-operative, as well as friendly and hospitable, to a fault. It was obligatory to let him take you hostage and ferry you around in the evening to different venues in Halifax to meet with his members.

He was a musician, a facilitator, a mentor, a statesman, a chairperson, a decision-maker, a lobbyist, a politician, a leader, an empath, and a friend. It is often difficult to interact with others when there is a significant age difference, but with Power that never materialized. We shared some very special moments of fellowship. Rest in peace, Peter, and know that you made a huge difference for the musicians in Atlantic Canada.

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