Letter from SCOUT eh! Chair Mike Reid


As we approach our eh!GM and the Scouts Canada AGM along with the Centennial Scouter's Conference in Vancouver, I am both overwhelmed and underwhelmed.

Overwhelmed at the richness of the centennial experience as I have seen it, and underwhelmed by the efforts of Scouts Canada's Board of Governors to achieve some modicum of democracy.

The centennial year has given us some good focus of effort in our own backyards and that is how it should be. However, while we were busy playing at the Game, an anaemic effort at changing governance was put forward, passed, and then poorly executed.

I have been very quiet on all of this as I ruminated on the question and talked to other members. I think any effort at a vote is a good thing but this Policy 1014 seems to be a pale effort.

At CJ'07 I was pleased to have had several impromptu meetings with Glenn Armstrong and Rob Stewart. I did a lot of listening. Trying to filter through all the information I was given has been a chore. There is the message, or what they want us to believe, and then there is reality. In some cases I believe they are pretty close to the same. Others I feel are window dressing.

I honestly believe that the Board of Governors believe they have done a good thing with Policy 1014. It gives some democracy without turning the Bylaw 2 apple cart on its side. I weigh that with a statement from Glenn that assured me that the whole Bylaw 2 is going to be re-examined. Five years have passed, we know it is not perfect. It is time to take a look at it. He said that in addition to telling me that Policy 1014 was to be policy for this AGM. I was encouraged.

However, today the gloss is off. Democratic reform by way of Policy 1014 has been poorly executed with only a couple of Councils getting on board for this AGM. There are plenty of reasons for this: a rushed timeline over a registration period, centennial celebrations and ineffective communication of purpose.

The good news is that we, , may have a voice on things through these elections if we get a number of people elected. To that end I encourage you all to run in your local Council to be a voting representative. The bad news is that it will take another year or more to have any impact at all. Compound this with the feeling that we may not have that much time financially. If what has been predicted through Crossroads comes true, the National organization will be awash in more debt. This will precipitate more decisions without the grass roots weighing in, more properties will be put at risk and program support will dwindle to a level worse than it already is. The rumour mill is always churning but some of the things we are hearing are truly terrifying.

While democracy is not the panacea to all of our problems, it is certainly the only way for the membership to help recognize and buy in to the problems. Then, once the problems are identified, we all can roll up our sleeves and get down to the hard work necessary to revive our sliding fortunes. But it must happen now. We have to have some answers at this AGM. Time is shorter than we know. Even your ever optimistic chair is worried.

I have witnessed a renewed energy and spirit as a result of the centennial. I have seen some of the old flavour and feeling. It has been remarkable. It has been comfortable. It has been what we all know and love about Scouting. I want it to last. But I am afraid.

For those of you going to our eh!GM I wish you a safe trip. Unfortunately, unless some sort of minor miracle happens I will not be able to make the trip. I would like everybody who goes to listen well. Keep to your own counsel. Be wise in your deliberations. And have so good old fashioned Scouting fun and brotherhood. As always, I will be there in my thoughts, hopes and prayers.

Yours in true Scouting friendship,

Mike Reid, Chair, SCOUT eh!