Council Commissioner threatens all members in Elgin Area

Camp Timken is owned by the Scout Groups in Elgin Area through a trust deed. Following Scouts Canada's attempt to force the sale of the property, Elgin Scouters applied to a court for a declaration that the property is in trust and cannot be sold without the consent of the Beneficial Owners, Elgin Area Groups.

In an attempt to defeat the Elgin Area court action, the Council Commissioner for Tri-Shores Council sent a letter to every adult member in the Area threatening them with unspecified consequences if they do not identify themselves as being in opposition to the court action. Below you can read this letter and a subsequent letter sent by Dave Palmer, who was elected by Elgin Scout Groups to coordinate the action to protect Camp Timken.

Dave Palmer is a Scouter with 35 years experience. The members in Elgin Area have sought and were granted by the Court representative status. The court has been asked to rule whether the Ontario Incorporated Body holds both the Legal and Equitable interest in the property or if it has only the Legal or bare title while the Area Groups have general control as the beneficial owner or user.

The By-laws of Scouts Canada provide that the Provincial Incorporated Bodies are mere holding companies, holding property in trust for local Scouting. It is stated by the Ontario Incorporated Body that the Council Commissioners are members of the Board of the Ontario Incorporated Body. The Council Commissioner is in a clear conflict of interest and has chosen to side with the Ontario Incorporated Body. In doing so, the Council Commissioner is in effect trying to let the Ontario Incorporated Body do an end run around the law by replacing a legitimate court process with bullying Elgin Scouters into abandoning the request for a declaration. It is clear from the Council Commissioner's letter that the Council Commissioner confuses following management aims with loyalty to the Scout Movement.

Please read the letter from Catherine Plinke, Tri-Shores Council Commissioner, to Elgin Area Scouters.

Here is the letter by Dave Palmer to Elgin Area Scouters:

November 4, 2005

Dear Fellow Members,

By now most of you have received a letter from our Council Commissioner, Cathy Plinke. I am writing this note to you to give you the facts about the lawsuits from the Elgin Area side.

The number one fact is that I was elected to be spokesperson on behalf of the groups listed in Cathy's letter. I am not the leader of a splinter group as she has stated. In addition to this I did not personally launch this lawsuit. I, too, believe and support the mission of Scouts Canada as I have done for the past 35 years.

Secondly, I have nothing to gain by the lawsuit, nor do I have any personal interest in Camp Timken other than to ensure that we, in Elgin, will determine when and if it is to be sold.

Thirdly, this lawsuit is to determine who is the beneficial owner of the camp and not the legal owner. We in Elgin, have all agreed that the deed for Camp Timken is a trust deed held in the name of The Incorporated Body for Ontario. This corporation was set up by the former Ontario Council to hold the trust title for all property in Ontario for the benefit of the local groups or Divisions. This is what we have asked the courts to rule on.

We have been allowed by and through the courts to launch this lawsuit as a group not as individuals and as such cannot be held personally responsible for any expenses incurred. We can, however, as groups be responsible for expenses and already have a fund in place to cover those expenses.

The Camp Timken Committee has always supported, although not always agreed with the property standards requirements and has to the best of our ability met all of those requirements.

Cathy goes on to say in her letter that she doesn't want the camp to fall in the hands of a splinter group, which in reality it cannot. If we wanted to sell the camp after winning our lawsuit, Scouts Canada would still have to approve the sale as the deed holder.

She goes on to say that disputes exist in any large organization. This is quite true. However, prior to the restructuring, we had a voice and a vote and could have settled this dispute in a democratic manner within Scouts Canada. However, today, we do not have a vote or say as ordinary members. There are only about 100 people across all of Canada that have a vote. To resolve this in the present environment of Scouts Canada could only be accomplished if we agreed to do as we were told.

It is also stated in Cathy's letter that the cost of the lawsuit is money that could be better spent on youth programs. I would direct you to the Scouts Canada annual report that shows that more than 80% of the registration fees the youth and adults pay are used for staff salaries and would suggest that a reduction of paid staff could also free up money better spent on youth programs and allow the volunteers to have a more integral role in the administration of Scouts Canada.

It is my opinion that just because you support the lawsuit action, does not automatically mean that you do not support the aim, principles and mission of Scouts Canada. To suggest such a thing goes against the very democracy and freedom of thought this country is built on.

Finally, I ask that you not resign. You cannot be a part of the solution if you are not a member. Legal counsel advises that we do not respond to Cathy's letter. We need you to ensure the Scouts Canada program is alive and well in Elgin.

Yours in Elgin Scouting,

David M. Palmer

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns: 765-4512