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  • Ian McCormack

A Year in Review

As the crow flies, or more specifically as Air Canada, Westjet, Canadian North, Alaskan, Delta, and Northwestern Air Lease flies, 2019 was a year that saw more travel than any before it. Strategic Steps completed projects in California, Idaho, Alberta, BC, NWT and Nunavut for a really diverse group of clients. The common thread was that all of the projects were focused on governance, and more specifically on the principles of good governance that involved local governments.

The year began in California with an orientation for a newly elected city council just east of Anaheim. For a Canadian in the middle of winter, the chance of a trip to SoCal was the icing on the cake. That assignment meant I had to become familiar with the strong mayor system and had to learn how to translate Canadian local government parlance into that which would be understood by a council member in a California city. There was no point using the term ‘bylaw’ for example.


We had the chance to speak at several conferences through the year, on topics ranging from ‘tone at the top’ about the council – manager relationship, about ethics in local government, and demystifying local government for a non-government audience. These experiences taught me that what is second nature to me can be a mystery to others, and helping to reveal the workings behind the mystery is gratifying.


In terms of book-ending the travel, while the first trip of the year was to southern California, the last two trips were to Canada’s North. I had a fascinating experience working with the now former mayor of Iqaluit to provide a one-day overview of the principles of local governance to all of Nunavut’s newly elected mayors and their Chief/Senior Administrative Officers. Working through the day in both English and Inuktitut was fascinating, and I was encouraged by the way the new mayors embraced their roles.


The last big event of 2019 was to earn the credential Certified Management Consultant (CMC) from the industry’s national association. This is a recognition of expertise from my peers and is something I have worked towards for several years.

As we look to 2020, I wonder what this year will bring. The first six weeks include assignments with travel to Virginia, Saskatchewan, and BC, as well as ongoing work in NWT, Nunavut and Alberta.


Literally dozens of people have pulled together to help Strategic Steps grow over the past year, and I appreciate the counsel and effort of every single person. This is an industry of competitive collaborators, and in the words of Ben Franklin, “we must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately”.



Happy New Year to all of you who’ve managed to read this far, and here’s to the next 12 months!

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