At this website:
Mark Latham has posted an important contribution to this debate. Though I don't agree with all of his conclusions, he has done some critical research. For instance, his proposal to have a team of bloggers cover MEC elections has the problem of who selects the bloggers. If the board selected them, this would amount to the board choosing who gets elected.
Mainly, he emailed each of the candidates for the MEC board, and asked them where they stood on the special resolution to allow the sitting board to decide who can be elected to the board. Along the way, he ran into some remarkable communication issues.
12 of the 13 candidates replied to his email.
has not replied.
Every response through MEC's email system automatically appended a statement that the contents were not for public use (!). Asked about this, the responses included:
"...we are very limited in our ability to say what we want and to whom we want - this is very clearly outlined in the rules for candidates. Our email is also audited by MEC staff."
"As candidates, we were asked to abide with rules on how to communicate with members, which include using this MEC address."
"...the MEC elections team is asking that we do not share all our communications with the other candidates..."
"You may share my reply, but not to other candidates."
7 of the 11 responding candidates allowed reproduction of their responses. There are no MEC Rules limiting behaviour of MEC directors. They do, however, have to be mindful of the Rule added a few years ago that a 2/3 majority of directors can kick any director off the board.
Now, directors are supposed to show vision and leadership. It sounds more like schoolchildren agreeing to follow classroom rules. I would love to know how these explicit restrictions on directors and candidates have developed, and who did it.
While I was on the board, there was pressure to conform. The argument was that any division apparent in the board made the board look weak an ineffectual to the employees, the members, and the public. So there were some vague principles that an individual director should not speak to the media without checking with the board first. But nothing like what sounds like is going on now.
Here's an obvious problem. Say the board does something really dumb, such as proposing a special resolution that offends well-informed members. An incumbent director standing for reelection will be associated with that proposal even if they are strongly against it. If they were prevented from saying anything about the matter, they could lose the election. That would be unfair, but in a sense it would be deserved because they lacked the fortitude to resist being bullied and stand up for what is right.
Here's how the candidates who responded, and allowed their responses to be made public, felt about the special resolution:
: opposed (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blair...19493241402043
He went on to say: "This email address, and its formatting, is provided to us by MEC for the purposes of the campaign. Once the campaign is over, it disappears. All of the communications on it are monitored by the MEC communications team, for as I understand it they want to ensure that we're not spamming folks, providing inaccurate information, or misrepresenting ourselves as representatives of the Co-op etc."
"The caveat is that the MEC elections team is asking that we do not share all our communications with the other candidates,"
Well, at least that explains why so many of the responses looked alike - they're using a template provided by MEC. Now that's showing leadership!
: in favour (www.VoteforGeoff.com
: didn't say whether he opposed or favoured the resolution
"We took steps to create a new role at the senior staff level (Senior Manager, Governance) and began fine-tuning existing board processes, etc. to lay the foundation for board members to truly govern and lead from a strategic and generative point of view, not just fiduciary oversight."
"all candidates are advised that their email responses are automatically cc'ed to the Governance team to ensure our compliance with the campaign rules."
: in favour
: in favour (www.magrich.ca
"As well, we are very limited in our ability to say what we want and to whom we want - this is very clearly outlined in the rules for candidates. Our email is also audited by MEC staff. It does at first glance seem quite restrictive but the idea here is to ensure that all candidates are on a level playing field and that email exchangers do not make personal attacks or unsubstantiated claims about the Coop."
: in favour
Presumably, Carole Dobson
, David Chamberlain
, Anders Ourom
, Mike Wearing
, and Drew Anderson
did not give permission for Mark Latham to post their responses.
A comment on the restrictions on candidates and directors:
Here's the picture: MEC's board has a strict code of conduct that directors obey or risk being kicked off the board. This code is policed by MEC staff. Apparently also there is a "Senior Manager, Governance". It would be really interesting to know if these people report to the board or to the management. If they report to the management, then we have a situation where MEC's board is substantially controlled by the management. If so, this is utterly unacceptable.