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President’s Message

January 2, 2016

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”.  Experts claim that a good opening sentence is essential to a good story.  So I’ve borrowed this great first line from Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities because CIFFA has a good story to tell and I wanted to capture your attention.Jeff Cullen

Best of times:  As I write this message the balmy December weather lulls us into thinking that winter may not hit with the severity of past years and perhaps, this year, there will be no snow to shovel.  Ports are fluid, wait times at border crossings are manageable, and there is plenty of air lift to meet demand.   Worst of times:  Terrorists attack innocent civilians around the world and security measures increase daily; the Canadian dollar seems to be in a free-fall; demand for ocean and air capacity is down; eHBL implementation is still floating just over the horizon.  Through it all, our association keeps focused on meeting its mission by advocating on your behalf, providing the education and vocational training your employees need, and building an engaged community of like-minded professionals.

After almost three years at the helm, I’ll hand over the presidency at the June 16, 2016 annual general meeting in Montreal and I’m in something of a reflective mood.  This association has been serving the needs of its members since it was incorporated in 1948.  We’re building on the strong foundation laid by previous national boards and the presidents who came before us.

Looking back at 2015 we see some of the best of times, delivering ‘Excellence through Education’.

  • Certificate program re-design with new competency assessments, improved exams and new textbooks for both International Transportation & Trade and Essentials of Freight Forwarding.
  • Successful transition to virtual classrooms from bricks and mortar classrooms for Certificate and Advanced Certificate programs.
  • Development of new delivery models and partnership agreements with colleges across the country means registration in the CIFFA Certificate is at an all-time high.

In 2016 we’ll be working on a new management curriculum designed for members and revisions to our Professional Freight Forwarder (PFF) designation.

Last year was about investing to improve the member experience when you interact with CIFFA.  As anyone knows who has implemented a new database and CRM, there can be some challenges, and CIFFA has been no exception.  We are almost there and encourage you to connect with CIFFA.

  • Newly re-designed website, fully mobile, with one entry to all CIFFA’s user tools: courses, online purchases, user/company profiles.
  • Corporate Portal provides group registration for courses; company compliance records; company details.
  • CRM integrates three old databases with the website, accounting and learning management systems, resulting in improved data quality and efficiency.

Representation at home and abroad is our third strategic focus.  Visit the Advocacy page at www.ciffa.com to see some of the initiatives CIFFA has undertaken on your behalf.  There you can read our letter to four new federal ministers, introducing the association and some of our work.  Add to this list the many letters to and meetings with government agencies, port authorities, carriers, other associations and you can see the results of a dedicated organization, staff and volunteers.

In our written submission to the Canada Transportation Act review panel, recommendations and suggested solutions to improve Canada’s transportation capabilities identify three long term strategies:

  • The need for a national Canadian intermodal transportation strategy which encompasses improved accountability and performance (across ports, terminals and railroads), an integrated information system or ‘dashboard’ for data, and improved intermodal infrastructure;
  • The creation of a human capital investment strategy; and
  • The strategic positioning of Canada as a “Cargo Transit Hub”.

CIFFA took the lead last spring, writing to the CBSA on behalf of sufferance warehouse operators, requesting the same six month informed compliance period on ‘Warehouse Arrival Certification Messaging’ that others had received.  We were successful, the CBSA revised its plan and warehouse operators received the zero-rated penalties during the six months ending January 11, 2016 for WACM.

Perhaps the most significant new focus coming from a recent strategic planning session will be positioning the association as a ‘Trusted Advisor’.  Developing ‘Trusted Advisor’ status means membership, government, importers and exporters, port authorities and other stakeholders look to CIFFA for reasoned advice and sound guidance.  Our voice is growing and our representation extending beyond that of our membership to include our customers, Canada’s traders.  ‘Freight Forwarders: Helping Canadians do Business with the World’.

I am honoured that in 2016 I will be the president to grant the first Donna Letterio Leadership Award, recognizing a woman in the global freight logistics sector who has demonstrated, as Donna did, professionalism, commitment, leadership and a passion for excellence in her career and in her life.

Finally, when I say ‘our’ and ‘we’ who do I mean?  Certainly I mean the passionate leadership of our volunteer national board of directors, who dedicate their time and energy to the cause of the association.  I mean Ruth Snowden, our Executive Director, her management team Stephen McDermott, Maureen Jobin and Anna Loginova and the entire secretariat staff who work hard to deliver value for all members (see page 14).  I mean the volunteers on our Regional and National Committees.  And I mean every employee of every CIFFA member who reads the daily eBulletin, allows others to sit on committees, purchase tickets to gala dinners and organize a foursome for the golf tournament.  In short, I mean all of us.  It is we who create the best of times and I thank you all for your contributions to the association.  I am humbled and honored to have served you, our members, and to have worked with such an incredible group over my tenure.


Thank you – Merci – Danke – Grazie – Xie Xie   謝謝 / 谢谢– Domo ありがとうございます- Gracias

Jeff Cullen


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