Employee Profile: Gregory Kolz
Director, Government Relations
Greg Kolz knows Ottawa’s Parliament buildings better than most – every corridor, every corner, every recess.
When the North Bay, Ontario native came to Ottawa for university in 1997, he worked first as a tour guide escorting visitors through the Parliament Buildings, then as a page in the Senate of Canada.
His exposure to the people, players, and processes at the heart of Canada’s federal government system not only taught him things that can’t be learned in any textbook. His experiences also built on a longtime admiration for and fascination with public service.
He joined busy political offices working for several MPs and a Senators (with stints as a consultant here and there) and reveled in what he calls the “continuous learning process” that is life on Parliament Hill.
In February 2020, nearly 22 years after his first-ever tour, Greg turned in his employee pass, walked out of the majestic stone buildings, and past the eternal flame toward downtown Ottawa.
Little did he realize; he was stepping into “baptism by fire” when he started a new role at the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) three days later.
Rail blockades stopped train traffic on key lines in his first week on the job. Within a month, COVID-19 arrived in Canada. Everything changed overnight.
Greg jokes: “I’m still not sure what an average day at RAC looks like.”
Government relations is usually done through a series of face-to-face, 1-on-1, and “personal touch” type interactions. Virtual sessions and events very quickly supplanted in person meetings and receptions.
Greg says while he misses those human interactions with public servants and legislators, online and virtual gatherings can be more frequent and involve broader audiences.
“The nature of the conversations with government has changed over time. It’s now less about the emergency of COVID and more a two-way dialogue about cycles and priorities,” Greg says. “Governments are still focused on the virus – vaccines, etc. – but they’re starting to look at how RAC members can be part of Canada’s economic and social recovery.”
And that, he says, means looking not just years, but decades down the track.
“Regardless of the pandemic, the complexity of the system would keep me busy, and that’s how I like it.”
Greg has always kept busy and engaged.
Sports, current affairs, history all battle for his attention in his spare moments.
As a young man, Greg spent two summers giving guided tours of Vimy and Beaumont-Hamel battlefield memorials in Europe, an experience he says, “changes you.”
“Speaking with veterans, seeing families come to the see the names of deceased loved ones on the monuments, seeing them make emotional connections or tracing the name on a tombstone on a piece of paper…every day was an opportunity to share an important piece of Canadian heritage.”
Greg also has a passion for photography that he calls “therapeutic.”
His ability to capture elite and high-performance athletes has taken him to faraway places, including the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea where he captured images of Canada’s skating and speedskating teams.
Greg still remembers the day he caught the Olympic bug: it was when the 1988 Olympic torch relay came through North Bay.
It clearly sparked a passion, and the fires of imagination and love of country still burn bright today.
Greg now burns his daily energies in service of RAC members and their advocacy needs. That’s his way of giving back, going forward.
Find out more about other RAC Staff Members.