This past fall, Scouts Canada released Policy 1014. Policy 1014 requires that every council hold an election to choose the Voting Members who will represent the council at the Scouts Canada AGM held each fall.
SCOUT eh! has been very quiet over the past while. The impression that we may be sending now is "mission accomplished". Policy 1014 is in place; now we can relax.
However, like President Bush standing on the aircraft carrier in front of his "mission accomplished" banner, the hard work is only just beginning.
Policy 1014 is by no means a real democratic system:
- It sets 16 as the voting age, but most members 16 or over are not allowed to vote at all.
- Each group has just three votes. And it's three votes regardless of how large or small the group is, leading to huge inequality.
- The policy retains the ladder system in which one group of people choose another group of people, who choose another group of people, who choose another group of people, who actually make the decisions for Scouts Canada. Anyone who has sat in a circle and played "broken telephone" knows this kind of system distorts the message. The result is a Board of Governors who don't have a clear picture of what the members want or what is needed to make Scouting grow.
The door to real democratic participation in Scouts Canada's decision-making by the actual stakeholders, the Ordinary Members, has not been opened. But the door is no longer bolted. If we want to get in, we will have to push. Hard.
We need a Board of Governors who want to listen to the needs of the Ordinary Members; a board that fully supports democracy. This requires having 51 out of 100 Voting Members who support democracy. Our goal must be no less than having every Council Voting Member be a supporter of democracy.
This will require action in every council. There must be three democracy supporters nominated as candidates, whether or not they are SCOUT eh! members. All members of Scouts Canada 16 and over, whether in SCOUT eh! or not, need to be made aware of the issues and encouraged to make sure that their group's three votes are cast for candidates who support democracy in Scouts Canada.
This will require members of SCOUT eh! and other democracy supporters in each council to work together to get the message out.
Time is of the essence. Nomination deadlines are coming up. In Central Escarpment for example, January 15 is the deadline for nominations. If your council has had a "vote", but it didn't meet the spirit of Policy 1014, it's time to raise hell. If your Council Commissioner is not actively ensuring full participation in the election or if there are the same number of candidates as positions, then it's a farce. It needs to be exposed and complaints made to the Board of Governors and our Chief Commissioner. No election is valid if the letter and spirit of Policy 1014 was not followed.
What you can do:
- Contact your elected SCOUT eh! Council Representative to find out what's happening in your council.
- Visit your council web site or contact your Council Commissioner to find out what's happening with your council's election.
- Make sure that your group has its voting representatives in place and make sure that they know who the candidates are who support democratic reform of Scouts Canada.
- Get this message out to your Scouting friends.
Fellow Guardians of the Spirit, now is the time.
—SCOUT eh! Elected National Officers: Mike Reid, Ted Claxton, & Don Connors