Evaluating concerns surroundings open board meetings

Now that Feds’ Board of Directors (BoD) meetings have been reopened to all members, attention has turned to some of the concerns regarding the safety of directors.

Safety, that is, feeling free and safe to ask questions that might be deemed “stupid” or come under public scrutiny with an open board structure. Those who have expressed opposition of open board meetings in the past have brought this up as one of the reasons to do so.

The opening of BoD meetings was meant to address the issues of accountability and transparency. Directors are now in the same position as councillors, whose opinion has always been open to public scrutiny.

Before the motion passed in the last BoD meeting of 2014, an amendment was presented and passed with the motion, Section 1.ii, which states: “Non-members of board in attendance at meetings shall not disrupt the proceedings of the meeting nor cause any disturbance by unreasonable noise or vocal expression. The Chair may remove any such person when, in the Chair’s judgment, such person is engaging in improper or disruptive conduct that is detrimental to Board carrying out its business. The Board may overrule the Chair in their decision.”

Director Chris Lolas believes the amendment will ensure board meetings will continue to run without disruption.

“I certainly believe the amendment does [work]. I know some were concerned about disruptions from the gallery, and that is certainly a legitimate concern,” Lolas said. “However, I think if we are able to remove those who are being disruptive, we can continue with having a productive, open meeting.”

Ben Balfour, Feds’ VPOF, has been vocal in communicating his concern with reopening BoD meetings and how public scrutiny may affect a director’s participation in a meeting. He hopes Section 1.ii of the motion to reopen board meetings will address some of the safety concerns that arise from an open board structure, but is still not convinced it will address all of them.

“I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see,” Balfour said. “I think it’s going to be a learning curve for all of us. Like I said at the general meeting and like I said in the board meeting, I’m not against an open board, I can foresee issues.”

Danielle Burt, Feds president, agreed with Balfour saying, “I think it does [address some concerns]. I don’t think it’s finished, as far as addressing all of them.”

The task force, which was commissioned last term to evaluate Procedure 20, will do so with the lens of an open board structure and further evaluate the issue of safety.

“Everybody knows those concerns, who’s at the table in that task force,” Burt said. “So I think it will be looked at a little bit closer there, but I’m not on it so I can’t actually speak to what they’ll do.”

Feds directors Doug Turner, Maaz Yazin, Allyson Francis, and Lolas make up the task force.


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