On Sept 21, the annual general meeting of the AIDS Committee of Ottawa (ACO) ended in uncertainty with the membership casting a non-confidence vote on the new slate of directors.
After seeking legal advice, the board issued a press release on Sept 29 confirming its current status as the operating board of directors for ACO.
Board member Andrew Parker says that the board determined the motion to be null and void for three reasons: the motion of non-confidence doesn’t exist under the organization’s bylaws, language barriers and problems with translation lead to widespread confusion, and certain criteria must be met before any director can be removed.
“Under the bylaws, there are certain requirements for how that has to happen — such as six weeks’ notice, a full meeting and two thirds of members have to pass any removal for any directors, which, of course, didn’t happen because five minutes earlier, the membership just voted to approve a brand new slate of directors for the upcoming year,” Parker says.
There were, according to Parker, a number of reasons why the meeting fell into disarray. Some people were upset, as there were no managers present to answer operational questions — executive director, Kathleen Cummings, was away at the time, and acting executive cirector, Suzy Yim, fell ill on the day of the meeting. There were also a large number of non-English-speaking members present, with only one translator.
“The slate of directors was put forward for approval, and it was passed. Then moments later, there was a vote of non-confidence in the new slate of directors,” says Parker. “The motion did not pass, but, because of language issues, it was determined that a second vote should take place; and after that, the vote did in fact pass a motion of non-confidence.”
Parker says there was confusion about what the motion meant.
“As I understand it, the meeting was adjourned so that the board could get legal advice that it required, which they have now received,” he says.
The current board, with Kevin Hatt and Gordon Asmus as co-chairs, continues to be the operating board of directors with authority for managing the organization.
Parker says that another meeting will be called in the next month.
“We have taken steps to move forward, and we recognize that there are concerns among the membership, which we would like to discuss so that we can try to work through those concerns together,” he says.