Manitoba canola producers are poised to make history if an election is necessary this fall.
The Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) is set to offer optional online voting along with traditional mail-in ballots if an election is needed this fall to fill four board of directors’ positions.
MCGA approved a bylaw change allowing for online voting at its annual meeting this past February.
“We are just trying to make it easier for farmers to participate in the (MCGA directors’) election process,” MCGA president Chuck Fossay told members before voting on the proposed bylaw.
Half of the MCGA’s eight directors are up for election every two years, including this year. Of the four incumbents whose terms are up, two — Fossay, who farms at Starbuck and St. Andrews farmer Curtis McRae — say they will stand for re-election.
The other two — Brian Chorney of East Selkirk and Ed Rempel of Starbuck — can’t run because they have served the maximum of three, four-year terms.
If five or more people run for the four positions an election will be needed and both online and mail-in voting will be an option, MCGA executive director Delaney Ross Burtnack said in an interview Oct. 6. Ballots would be mailed to MCGA members along with instructions for online voting, she said.
The MCGA will continue with the preferential ballot voting system.
Avenue 4 Communications, which would run the election, has experience with online voting.
“Their system is very robust,” Ross Burtnack said. “They do a lot of work with credit unions in terms of their votes. It’s structured to ensure there are no duplications in voting. It’s a much quicker system doing it electronically than having to scan the (paper) ballots individually.
“We’re looking forward to this first round of doing online voting and to see if we can be a little more efficient and take advantage of new technology.”
The MCGA has around 8,500 members and postage and paper costs add up, she added.
“We would much prefer to take advantage of current technology and save members’ dollars for better things,” Ross Burtnack said.
Nominations for the four directors’ positions opened Oct. 14 and must be received at the MCGA’s office by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 31.
Nomination forms must be signed by at least six MCGA members and signed by the nominee.
Nomination forms are available from the MCGA.
In addition to a nomination form, nominees must submit a picture of themselves and a maximum 150-word biography that will be posted online and featured on the voting ballot.
Those seeking office must be 18 years of age, a resident of Manitoba, a member of the MCGA, have been engaged in the business of producing and marketing canola in Manitoba and paid MCGA checkoff in the previous fiscal year.
“We are always looking for new participation,” MCGA member-relations co-ordinator Roberta Galbraith said in an interview.
Being an MCGA director is an interesting and rewarding experience with a lot of scope, she added. In addition to helping direct canola checkoff funds for research and market development, directors can get involved with local, national and international issues through MCGA’s membership in other organizations ranging from the Keystone Agricultural Producers to the Canadian Canola Growers Association and Canola Council of Canada.