Scouts Canada fires Nova Scotia Council, responds

In November 2010, Nova Scotia Council held a democratic election for the new Council Service Team. Less than a month later, in an unprecedented move, Scouts Canada's CEO fired the entire team. SCOUT eh! finds the action taken by the CEO to remove the Nova Scotia Council Commissioner and his Council Service Team from their positions to be fundamentally wrong and unjustifiable.

There is no authority granted in BP&P Section 4002 or anywhere else in the BP&P concerning the dismissal of a Council Commissioner by the CEO. Likewise, there is no authority that warrants dismissal of the Council Commissioner's Team by the CEO. The assertion that this is "a longstanding practise" (see CEO's letter of December 23) is of no account as there is no such practice related to dismissal of a Council Commissioner. This is unheard of, unprecedented. This action flies in the face of Scouting Principles.

Scouting is a Movement that operates from the grass roots up not from the office of the CEO down. We would expect a much more even handed approach to this situation than was exhibited. Staff at all levels of Scouts Canada need to know how to manage a volunteer organization without this kind of tactic. This dismissal sends the none too subtle message that should a Council Commissioner or any volunteer have a "Philosophical Difference" with the CEO, he/she can be sacked. We would suggest that if these philosophical differences cannot be handled in a more constructive manner, particularly in the Scouting Movement, then we will cease to be a volunteer based movement. Control of the organization by the staff is contrary to the WOSM principles. The sole duty of the employed staff is to support the volunteers.

This action also sends an intimidating message to all Scouters in positions of administrative authority, "Toe the party line or you get the heave ho". By these recent actions, Scouters in senior positions have effectively been reduced to being flunkies and yes-men. Our Founder wanted leaders who could think and act for themselves. He believed that individuality amongst leaders was a good thing. It makes the program more immediate in response to local factors and stimuli. There may very well be things of which staff in far away offices are unaware. It is apparent that Democratic processes at all levels of Scouts Canada are either non-existent or in a very sorry state.

We are quite frankly, very surprised that the persons appointed as substitutes by the CEO or those who accepted appointments from the CEO's appointees did not themselves question the validity of the process. We would have thought that those volunteers would have counselled a more moderate approach to solving the issues that existed. Unfortunately, we feel that they are partaking in a divisive practice that allows staff to set one part of volunteer management against another. Clearly this is not the wisest course of action in a movement that is purported to be Volunteer-led and Staff-supported.

We understand that the Nova Scotia Council was ousted at the fiat of the CEO. This should not have happened. This action is contrary to both the best interest of Scouts Canada and its lifeblood, the volunteers and is contrary to the Scouting Spirit that motivates Scouters around the world.

We urge the immediate revocation of this unwarranted action and would further urge a mediated solution that is equitable for all parties concerned.

Scouter Ted Claxton
Chair, SCOUT eh!