The Court of The Star Chamber was an English court of law that sat around 1600. It was supposed to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against prominent people and those so powerful that ordinary courts would never convict them of their crimes.
Sessions were held in secret with no indictments and no witnesses. Over time, the court evolved into a political weapon and became a symbol of the misuse and abuse of power.
And now we have our own Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) which is holding its annual general meeting at the Hamilton Amateur Radio Club’s Hamfest in Ancaster, Ontario at 1 p.m. in Merritt Hall on the Ancaster Fair Grounds.
RAC’s annual general meeting is different from what you maybe used to when you think of a company’s or an association’s annual general meeting. Normally at any annual general meeting that I’ve attended the executive and the board of directors are present as are all interested members of the organization.
The meeting is called to order and the minutes of the previous meeting are read. Any errors or omissions are corrected and the minutes are accepted as read or corrected. Then if there is any business arising from the minutes its dealt with. Next comes executive committee members’ reports and finally new business.
New business can be moved by any executive, board or ordinary member. If seconded it is debated by those present and eventually voted upon.
Depending on the constitution of the organization there maybe a requirement to have a certain percentage of the members present (a quorum) to pass ordinary business (usually a simple majority) or a higher number to make constitutional changes (usually 2/3 in favour).
During the entire meeting any decision made by the chair person can be challenged by any member rising without being recognized by the chair and making an appeal of the chair’s decision.
An appeal of the chair’s decision does require a seconder but it is not debatable and the chair takes an immediate vote phrasing the question in the positive (All in favour of sustaining the decision of the chair say Aye.) and the sergeant-at-arms tallies the vote and the secretary records the result.
That’s the way AGMs are held all across the free world based on English Common Law. Unfortunately it’s not the way AGMs are held by Radio Amateurs of Canada.
For example, at our AGM there’s a constitutional change (Section 8. Officers Article 10) that reads as follows:
“That the RAC President can terminate any Executive member with an appeal process to the RAC Board. The appeal by the impacted party must be filed with the Board by no later than the second next scheduled Board Meeting. b) Any Executive officer may be removed from office at any time by a simple majority vote of the Board, which may then appoint a successor to fill the unexpired term.”
According to a letter recently sent to RAC members by one of the regional directors the logic behind this change is to grant the president the authority to terminate an executive member who acts in a manner deemed detrimental to RAC.
On the face of it, this looks like a pretty sound change that we should make to our constitution. But is it? Perhaps we should look a little deeper.
You see unfortunately RAC had already terminated an executive member without the authority of the members as granted in a constitutional change. (They kicked out a former president but that’s another unfortunate matter.)
Claiming a need for secrecy due to the matter concerning personnel, RAC officials have refused to elaborate on the circumstances surround the termination of our last RAC Regulatory Affairs Officer. (Read what Bill Gade had to say about his termination here.)
Based on what I read it would seem that contrary to acting in a manner detrimental to RAC, Bill Gade was acting in a manner supportive of our association.
Now I don’t know Bill personally but I do know our current president. It would seem that based on what Bill has said, he and our current president had a difference of opinion which resulted in Bill being shown the door by El Supremo.
So rather than entering into a discussion about Bill’s concerns, we get silence and now a change at the AGM.
We are being asked to come to Hamilton to approve a constitutional amendment, after the fact, to make this all …well constitutional.
I won’t do it.
I won’t go to the AGM in Hamilton.
I won’t go because the AGM is a sham.
I won’t go because I can’t be effective in a meeting where there is no right of appeal and protection of the rights of the minority to be heard.
I won’t go because going won’t make a difference.
What I will do is ask all of you to drop your memberships or at least not renew. We need a better system of managing our national affairs and we’re not getting it.
And yes I will keep my membership up to date so I can continue to blog about the awful things that are happening and once RAC collapses from financial failure I want to be the last paid member out the door.
The sooner, the better. I’ve had enough of the Court of The Star Chamber.