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MCGA Members Reject Proposed Bylaw Changes

Term limits for directors with the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) were rejected at its 2008-09 annual meeting in Brandon Feb. 11.

It’s not that members attending oppose the idea.

“My feeling was the reason the membership turned that down was because those term limits would’ve been grandfathered so all current directors would start at zero,” MCGA president Rob Pettinger said in an interview from his Elginarea farm Feb. 19.

The proposed change in MCGA bylaws would have restricted directors to serving up to three consecutive four-year terms totalling 12 years. Directors whose terms expired would be eligible to seek election again after two years off the board. But had the bylaw passed, it would only apply from the date it was approved.

Pettinger believes most farmers at the meeting wanted term limits to apply immediately. If that were the case two veteran directors, Ernie Sirski of Dauphin and Bruce Dalgarno of Newdale, wouldn’t be allowed to run when their current terms expire.

The proposed amendments to the MCGA’s bylaws also contained wording changes unconnected to term limits.

At last year’s annual meeting MCGA members voted 20 to three for a resolution endorsing term limits on directors.

“I think this is a healthy approach, Mr. Chairman, and something that is long overdue and should be given consideration,” said resolution mover Larry Bohdanovich, who farms at Grandview.

“These aren’t lifetime appointments,” said Bob Messinbird of Gilbert Plains.

Forty-one MCGA members voted on the proposed bylaw changes. Attendance was up from recent annual meetings, Pettinger noted.

BALLOT COUNTS

MCGA members debated 12 resolutions, passing five. Of those five, one asks that directors’ expenses be included in the MCGA’s annual report. Another requests that MCGA meeting minutes be posted on its website.

Members also endorsed a call to invite firms to tender for MCGA’s legal and accounting services every three years.

A resolution requesting poll results after MCGA elections also passed. Pettinger said that’s likely to happen too.

Changes in the way preferential ballots are counted during elections will likely also be made, he said.

“The next election is two years away, but in my personal opinion the way we counted ballots (in the 2009 election) wasn’t as good a preferential ballot count as we could do,” Pettinger said.

“What the members would like us to do is run through the system until someone receives over 50 per cent (of the votes) and then that high person, take his votes and redistribute them.”

It was done in reverse during the last election, he said. “At the end of the day I don’t think it will change the results, but that was the way they intended us to do it so I think the board will take a really strong look at doing it that way another year.”

Elections administrator Meyers Norris Penny has already said it can run the vote count that way, he noted.

Other resolutions which weren’t passed asked that:

Directors’ terms be limited to eight years;

Alleged board mismanagement “become part of MCGA’s official history”;

If the MCGA faces legal action stemming from the 2009 election, directors who endorse going to court personally fund it;

The MCGA deduct two days per diem from directors absent from any MCGA members’ meeting; and

Directors who, without justification, do not implement members’ resolutions “shall be deemed to have resigned” having lost members’ confidence.

During the 2008-09 crop year the MCGA took in $956,596 in revenue, including $941,479 of it from checkoffs collected from farmers.

According to the MCGA annual report, canola is the single highest source of revenue for Manitoba farmers, accounting for 37 per cent of farm cash receipts in 2008.

In 2009, 95 per cent of Manitoba’s canola was genetically modified, compared to almost 86 per cent in 2006. In 2008, the report adds, hybrids made up 90 per cent of canola grown, versus 71 per cent in 2006. [email protected]

About the author

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Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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