Barriers to international trade, infrastructure investment, E15 ethanol fuel additives and pending legislation pertaining to abandoned and derelict vessels topped a full agenda as boating industry representatives from across Canada gathered in Ottawa this week for the sixth annual Recreational Boating Day On The Hill advocacy effort.

Organised by the National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada (NMMA Canada), the concentrated lobbying event is a key plank in the association’s overall government relations platform.

“The recreational boating industry represents more than 75,000 jobs in Canada, $10 billion in total revenues and a GDP contribution in excess of $5.6bn,” said NMMA Canada president, Sara Anghel. “Because the Canadian and US economies are so tightly integrated, Recreational Boating Day on the Hill works in close coordination with the upcoming American Boating Congress held in the United States to ensure legislators on both sides of the border are aware of the significant impact of recreational boating, and to ensure they’re aware of the industry’s concerns around potential barriers to growth, including trade and regulatory issues.”

This year’s program was the largest yet, with a full calendar of 37 meetings with political and departmental staff, including chairs of relevant House of Commons Standing Committees, parliamentary secretaries to ministers, the Privy Council Office and numerous members of parliament from both the governing Liberal party and the Conservative and NDP opposition.

Joining the NMMA Canada delegation in the national capital were representatives from Boating Ontario, Honda Canada, Princecraft Boats, Stanley Boats, BRP, Boatdealers.ca, Legend Boats, Power Boating Canada, Mercury Marine Limited, Yamaha Motor Canada and Smoker Craft Inc, who seized the opportunity to advocate on behalf of the 4,400 companies that represent Canada’s recreational boating industry.

Trade was a key area of discussion with the recreational boating industry facing significant threats associated with the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and potential new tariffs on raw materials like aluminum and stainless steel. Additional discussions with lawmakers centered around the pending introduction of E15 ethanol fuels, proposed marine protected areas, public access to water and tourism development.

“The value of this opportunity to engage and inform government officials cannot be understated,” said Anghel. “Only a few hours after the last meeting wrapped up I received an email from a staff member to one of the MPs we met, reaching out to discuss the topic of E15 and request more details. Recreational Boating Day On The Hill initiative is designed to provide a forum for making regulators aware of industry concerns, and we continue to see concrete results.”