Debate and voting on a slate of proposed changes to the Vancouver Pride Society’s constitution and bylaws that began at the society’s annual general meeting (AGM) Nov 17 will resume at a special general meeting on Jan 19 at the Central Presbyterian Church on Thurlow St.
Discussion of the proposals was aborted after the heated AGM entered its sixth hour with a rapidly dwindling crowd.
The proposals include creating a senate to oversee the board of directors and the society’s long-term planning, changing the membership voting regulations and requiring a criminal record check for all board candidates.
One of the most contentious proposals calls for a 21-day waiting period to be imposed on new or newly reinstated Pride Society members before they can exercise their vote.
Prior to the AGM, the suggested waiting period was 60 days, a measure that some members viewed as excessive and likely to deter community members who want to get involved.
But Pride director Ray Lam, who drafted the new proposals, told Xtra West last month that a wait time is meant to prevent people from stacking elections or influencing the direction of the Society.
“Right now, the way it is, people can purchase memberships the day of the election, meaning after they know a specific agenda item is going to be tabled that day, they can buy a $10 membership for the purpose of influencing that one item. So these people would otherwise not be engaged or involved with the society but they decide to influence this one topic,” he explains.
“Who cares if the meeting gets stacked —that’s democracy,” argued community activist Jamie Lee Hamilton, who voted against the measure at last month’s AGM.
Chris Morrissey, who was also at the AGM, sees the measure as “a precautionary thing.”
“At this meeting, we have seen the conflicts that can arise, the power struggles that can arise. Of course we live in a democratic society and it’s reasonable to expect that people get their membership ahead of time in order to be able to participate in the voting process.”
The AGM featured an unsuccessful bid to add a no-confidence motion against Pride Society president John Boychuk to the agenda, multiple board resignations and hours of heated debate.
Though the membership rejected the waiting period proposal, Boychuk says there is still “room for discussion” on the measure, as well as others already debated and voted on at the AGM.
Boychuk says the Pride Society will hold another meeting, the date of which has yet to be finalized, prior to the January special general meeting so that members can review the specifics of the proposed bylaws and constitution changes.
The old bylaws have not been rescinded and will still govern the Pride Society until any changes are put into effect, he notes.