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Things that make you go hmmm....Equestrian Canada Edition

Editorial

So last week, Equine / Equestrian Canada held an Annual General Meeting .

You'd be forgiven if you, as a Sport License Holder and/or Registered Participant who pays dues to EC, didn't know.

This is the second time within months that EC has held a Meeting of Members, and excluded Registered Participants from attending (the first was in April in conjunction with the Convention, where the new branding was first revealed). There was no advance press release announcing the meeting was being held, nor how to attend.  

In the 16-year history of Equine / Equestrian Canada, and likely even longer if you go back to the Canadian Equestrian Federation years, we are not aware of the organization preventing those who are entitled to attend an AGM from attending. In fact, most organizations actively encourage the community they serve to attend as a way to improve communication channels and be very open with the activities of the organization.

You could even cast that net wider. City and Town Council meetings are always open to the public, save for in-camera portions, and if you're a real politics nerd you can fire up CPAC to watch what's happening on Parliament Hill. In a nutshell, the community has an opportunity to hear from elected officials and the bodies where their monies are sent.

EC Bylaws state Registered Participants may attend Meeting of Members

Many have noted that things have changed considerable at EC within the past two years under its new leadership of the Board of Directors and senior staff.

And it is difficult to reconcile the fact that EC seems to be displaying a pattern lately of not adhering to  the rules governing the organization (ie. Bylaws) when one of their key roles is to enforce Sport rules so as to ensure fair play and integrity.

EC's own Bylaws clearly state that Registered Participants are entitled to attend a General Meeting.

Article 5.7 states:
"Registered Participants may attend any Meeting of  the  Members  except  where  the  President  (or other  Chair of such meeting)  has  declared  the meeting,  or  any  portion  thereof,  to be in camera."

Yet some of you may recall that at the April Convention Meeting, the General Meeting was specifically noted as being a "Closed Session", and a follow-up with EC at the time resulted in their confirmation that the meeting was closed to all Sport License Holders and Registered Participants. This meeting included further amendments to Bylaws that had only just been revised and approved a mere 6 months earlier.

Board of Directors

Also interesting is that last week's meeting was billed as an AGM.

EC's Bylaws Article 5.2 (h), states that one of the standing items on the Agenda is the "introduction of Board of Directors for the coming year". Since this was actually done in April, it raises some interesting questions:

  • Given that a Director's term is tied to the AGM, does this mean that outgoing Directors (and President) resigned early in order to allow the new Directors (and new President) to take office early?
  • When exactly do the terms end for the current Board of Directors and President?
So What Happened at this AGM?

Judging by the minutes, not very much. (access the draft minutes here)

The minutes are only 2 pages long, with the first page mainly listing the attendees. 

Some things that caught our attention: 

Only 1/2 of the Voting Members representing Sport were in attendance
It's well known that Sport is the largest segment of EC. Yet there was only a 50% representation of this important member category group at the AGM. 

Voting members, who were not in attendance, voted in advance
This is unusual since most meetings in any organization are conducted so that a motion is what allows for discussion to take place, after which a vote is taken. To vote in advance means you do not have the benefit of discussion which could provide information in order to make an informed decision (ie. vote). 

Change in EC Auditors Requested
This is interesting, and no explanation has been given, either in the minutes or in the Audit Committee's Report, as to why there has been an identified need to replace EC's longstanding auditors KPMG (see latest approved financial statements here ). It also means that this AGM deviated from the standing agenda in the Bylaws (Article 5.2 ) which state that  the Auditors are appointed by the Members at the AGM.

Audit Committee's Report Focused Solely on Financials
On the topic of the Audit Committee, their report is suprisingly sparse as well - focusing only on the Financials of the organization. As per the Bylaws Article 4.33 , the duties of the Audit Committee also include an "examination of Board  practices  to  safeguard the assets of the organization."

No Discussion Points Captured
While minutes to do not typically contain verbatim discussion, they do usually contain salient points so as to provide context for decisions and a means of historical record keeping for the organization. 

Complete Unanimity
With a community as diverse as equestrian, and the Voting Member Categories representing Sport, Provinces and National Affiliates who sometimes have conficting interests, it is interesting that all motions were approved unanimously, seemingly without discussion (see above) including the financial statements (more on that later). We are left to conclude that the 27 Members are satisfied with how things are being managed at the organization. 

Quarterly Meetings of Members
The EC press release notes that a schedule of quarterly meetings will now be held with the EC Board and staff. This is certainly an indication of a desire for increased engagement by the Voting Members, although it is not clear if this was requested by the Voting Members themselves.   

Transparency

"Transparency" seems like the favourite word as of late, and is often used by many organizations and levels of government. EC itself uses the word frequently, and as recent as their press release of October 4th talking about the AGM last week. 

An organization that exhibits a continued pattern of lack of transparency runs the risk of eroding confidence, casting doubt on how the organization is being run, and alienates those who are the lifeblood of the sport: in this case, the many active riders, drivers, vaulters, coaches, offiicals, owners, supporters, volunteers and fans. 

Unhappy with the lack of information & being excluded?

If you're like most people in the community who regularly hand over their hard-earned dollars to EC, you may be wondering what you can do. Up until a couple of years ago, you had the opportunity to use your vote to directly have an impact on EC's Board of Directors. Now that the new Bylaws have removed that direct link, you can still voice your concerns.

If you feel that  Equine / Equestrian Canada should answer for their lack of transparancy and excluding Registered Participants from attending Meetings of Members, we encourage you to take action.

Coming up next...

Stay tuned for Edition # 2 where we'll be diving in to a few other things that make us go hmmmmmm.....

 

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