Case Study No. 1 – One day the newly elected Wing President simply resigned. He had only been in the job less than two months. The executive council members were caught off guard, and struggled with what to do next. Most acknowledged they needed a chairman, right away, so the 1st Vice-President volunteered. As this unfolded, there were cries for an general election to be held, from members supporting their favored candidate. Some members of the council moved for an election to be held the next week. Other council members disagreed, so they looked for further advice. Meanwhile, the general members demanding an election promoted their candidate who was actively working to discredit the 1st Vice-President’s decision to assume the Chairman’s role. “Vacancies in other council positions such as the Wing Public Relations Officer had to be dealt with first,” he declared, “and before that can happen an election of a Wing President must take place, as soon as possible.” Since the election had been scheduled with only four days lead-time, he agreed with the date. He broadcast a message to anyone who would hear that it would be unfair to the members if an election were not held, denying the members an opportunity to elect the most capable candidate.
Analysis – It is unfortunate this Wing President only lasted two months, but these things happen. Thankfully, the Wing Executive Council has other elected members on their board upon whom they can call to volunteer to serve as Chairman/Wing President. The elected council members have the power and responsibility to appoint individuals into the vacant offices, and thereafter, may appoint up to one-third the number of elected directors to other voting-executive positions to suit the council’s needs. Before any further business can be undertaken by this WEC a chairman must be identified. Only with a Chairman/Wing President in place, can someone move to craft the next agenda for consideration. If you believe the aspiring candidate for Wing President in this case, who is demanding an election, that the first item to be addressed is filling the Public Relations office vacancy, how, we ask, would someone do this without first seeing to the appointment of someone to act as Chairman for the meeting at which an appointment to Public Relations Office is made? It is very important to acknowledge the general membership no longer elects specific people (by name) to specific offices (by title); instead, as the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act now explains, when the general membership elects a fellow member, they are electing them to the executive council generally and the job they end up doing is left entirely to the elected members to decide. In other words, choosing who will be president is now the responsibility of the elected members on the council, not the general membership. The general membership must understand, when they vote/elect someone they do so fully acknowledging their complete confidence in each and every elected member to do not just one job but all the jobs, from Sports Officer to Wing President. Furthermore, when things happen like this the most important thing to remember is that in a direct democracy like ours (every Regular member has a vote) the members come first, and the leaders come last. Holding a new general election less than two months after the last one is a slap in the face to those members who participated/voted in the last election. Presumably, every general member had a chance to express their vote. Then it is paramount that individuals honour that participation and expression. Consequently, it is prohibited to hold another general election before the end of the current term of office. If the Wing Executive Council was completely dissolved, if all the elected members resigned, then a new general election would be needed. If a Unanimous Member Agreement (UMA) – 100% of the members in the organization declared a new election was needed, then a new general election could be called. Since, however, neither of these circumstances is relevant, here, a new general election is not warranted and in fact is prohibited. Furthermore, Robert’s Rules of Order more than suggest to be fair you need to give the members twenty-one days’ notice, minimum, for important agenda items like elections. Any other notice, especially shorter notice as in this case, is simply unconscionable/unacceptable. For the other candidate to claim how important it is to be fair to the members, and in the same breath demand a virtually no-notice election is nothing more than hypocrisy and dubious manipulation of democratic processes to suit one’s personal agenda. We do not need members like this in the RCAF Association. Finally, all elections should be done by “ballot”, to protect the dignity of general members casting their vote, and to protect the dignity of those running for office. When the notice (21 days) of an election is issued, it should come in the form of a fully-detailed ballot. It is completely unacceptable for the general membership to not know who is running for office until they show up to vote on the day of the election. We have heard some Wings work from a chalk board or dry erasure white board, adding the names of interested candidates offered up for the first time during the very meeting a vote is anticipated to take place. This is unfortunate indeed.