Canadian Security Magazine

Why security industry associations are in trouble

By Brian Robertson   

Features Opinion

A year ago I wrote a column in which I praised Graham Ospreay of the Canadian Society for Industrial Security (CSIS) and Ken Mitchell of the Canadian Security Association (CANASA) for their efforts toward creating a framework under which all of the different security industry associations could work together toward the creation of a single voice for the security industry in Canada. That initiative went off the rails before it started. Ken Mitchell has left his position at CANASA and Graham Ospreay has stepped down from CSIS.

Will other leaders come forward for the cause? That remains to be seen.
No one from any of the local ASIS Chapters strewn across the country
has ever shown much interest in the affairs of the industry beyond
making sure that (small) monthly meetings continue to be held and (a
few) more of their members become CPPs. That leaves CSIS. But CSIS is
plagued by all-too familiar questions around its own leadership and if,
in fact CSIS will continue to exist, and should it continue to exist?

CSIS is a non-profit organization trying to recover from the activities
of a disgraced former Executive Director who left the organization over
four years ago. We’re talking about an organization that numbers its
members in the hundreds and represents an industry that numbers its
members in the tens of thousands.

Being a tiny organization with only a handful of members (almost all of
whom work in the Greater Toronto Area or the National Capital Region)
is something that CSIS is at least used to. In theory, there are nine
positions on the CSIS board. Six of them are now or are soon to be
vacant. And there isn’t a long line-up to fill them.

The lack of interest that keeps CSIS at the same low level of
development that it has been stuck at for years is not a problem
uniquely experienced by CSIS, though. None of the ASIS Chapters that
operate across the country are about to go under, but few of them can
claim to have been doing much growing, either.


Really committed new
leaders take over the executive positions in local CSIS and ASIS
Chapters every few years. But they all step down from their positions a
few years later, frustrated at how little progress they made.

CSIS should fold its tents and send its members off to the nearest ASIS
Chapter. ASIS Chapters should stop thinking of themselves as service
organizations whose role is to service their own members, and start
thinking of themselves as the leaders whose responsibility it is
represent industry to government, to media, and to the public.

professionals should stop asking what it is that industry associations
can do for them and start asking what they can do to help industry
associations do more for the good of our industry, and for the good of
the society we live in.

The people who are offended by what I’ve said
in this column should write a letter to the editor of this publication
and tell me, if they can, if I am wrong

Brian Robertson is president of Diligent Security Training &
Consulting in Toronto.

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