“The Last Ride”

Much work has been done over the past few years to help dealers and the industry. Let’s take a moment to reflect.

After three years as the Chief Economist of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), it is time for me to say a fond farewell to this excellent organization and the automotive industry.

From strongly advocating for dealers to be supported during the COVID-19 pandemic, to working hand-in-hand with the federal government to develop a national rebate program for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and fighting against the luxury tax, the past three years in the automotive industry have been a hell of a ride, no pun intended! If you would indulge me one last time, I think a trip down memory lane is in order.

It’s never a dull moment in the auto industry, as I was reminded when I first took the job with CADA. And as I reflect on my time with the association and in the industry, the past few years have been anything but dull.

Two weeks into the job, I found myself in Las Vegas at a dealer conference discussing the benefits of the new North American Free Trade Agreement, and the great work that CADA and dealers had done over two years of nail-biting negotiations to ensure the auto industry was protected.

From there, the rest is history—I criss-crossed the country, from Vancouver, B.C. to St-John’s Newfoundland and met with dealers, industry stakeholders, elected officials and senior government officials. I also frequently appeared in major media outlets and industry magazines.

Our advocacy led to the creation of relief programs such as the wage subsidy program, the rent relief program and CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account), just to name a few.

I came in on the heels of the signature of CUSMA (Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement), and we worked extensively with trade officials on both sides of the border to ensure that the deal was not only ratified in a timely manner—but also fully implemented by all three countries.

While this work was ongoing, we also worked closely with the federal government on environmental policies, and particularly on developing a sound national strategy for zero-emission vehicles. This led to the creation of a national ZEV incentive program.

CADA also fought tooth and nail against the luxury tax announced by the Liberal government during the 2019 election campaign. We succeeded in delaying the introduction of the tax by a number of years, and also by ensuring that the additional luxury levy only applied to the marginal amount over the $100,000.

And then…COVID-19 hit and the world as we knew changed in a matter of weeks.

We immediately got into gear and launched a national grassroots campaign to ensure dealers were considered an essential service and small-businesses and dealers were fully supported throughout the pandemic. Our advocacy led to the creation of relief programs such as the wage subsidy program, the rent relief program and CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account), just to name a few.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the great work that my colleagues and I at Accelerate Auto have done to raise awareness around the need to increase diversity and Black representation within the automotive industry.

The industry needs to ensure that its workforce, at all levels, reflect the customer base it serves. Diversity of perspective, talent, race, culture and background will significantly help this industry face the challenges of the future.

I’m proud of the work that we accomplished over the past couple of years. I am fully confident that dealers and this industry will continue to adapt to change along with new technologies, and continue to provide consumers with the best products. The future of this industry is bright and the groundwork that associations like CADA are doing daily will only make it better.

I am extremely grateful for all the people I met and worked with, all the experiences, and all that I have learned in this vibrant industry.

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