Scout eh

SCOUT eh!

SCOUT eh! is an organization of "registered Scouts Canada members dedicated to transforming Scouts Canada into a democratic association". The name is an acronym for "Scouts Canada Ordinary-member Unity Taskforce Association".

SCOUT eh! was founded in August, 2004 by Scouter Mike Reid of Montreal, Quebec. As of September, 2006 it had over 700 members from every Scouts Canada council and Canadian province.

Roots

In the late 1990s, Scouts Canada embarked on a restructuring process aimed at addressing the ongoing problem of membership decline. A team lead by Larry Fox wrote what was officially known as the Millennium Report (sometimes called the Fox Report). The report described a dramatically more centralized and staff-directed structure for the association. The report was extremely unpopular with the portions of Scouts Canada's membership, especially those at the District level. Scouts Canada formally set aside the report, but continued work on restructuring.

In 2000, Scouts Canada replaced its General By-Law with By-Law No. 1. The amendments replaced the 52-member National Council with a 23-member Board of Governors and divided the membership into Ordinary Members, who have no voting rights; and Voting Members, a group of 100 or fewer people who elect the Board and vote on matters presented to the national Annual General Meeting.

2002 saw the implementation of restructuring. Scouts Canada passed By-Law No. 2 which replaced the Provincial, Regional, and District Councils with 20 new councils, comprising an entire province or a large part of a province. Councils are led by a Council Commissioner, appointed by Scouts Canada's CEO, the top staff member. The Districts were tranfromed into Areas overseen by an Area Commissioner appointed by and accountable to the Council Commissioner. Scouts Canada's Ontario Incorporated Body, which is the trustee for most of the Scout camps in Ontario, quietly started a property review process.

By 2004, dissatisfaction was growing among some of Scouts Canadas membership. While some of the national leadership and staff considered the restructuring to be a success, some others at the local level objected to the changes and found the new system to be ineffective at helping Scouters deliver the program. The property review had also become public knowledge and Scouters were worried about losing local camps. An information session at an April, 2004 Scouts Canada conference near Toronto did not reassure all the membership. In the middle of that summer, Scouts Canada produced a list of Scout camps they wanted to close.

During this time some volunteers, inspired by the leadership of Mike Reid, spearheaded the creation of a committee aimed at giving the disenfranchised membership direct management of the management and direction of Scouts Canada.

Early growth

Scouter Mike Reid's email in early August, 2004 caught the attention of many inside Scouts Canada who sent the email on to others they knew. The new association also caught the interest of the media. Reid did eleven interviews with various CBC Radio stations across Canada. In early September, he was interviewed on the Rafe Mair Show on the Vancouver radio station 600am. Scouts Canada' Chief Commissioner, Mike Scott was interviewed following Reid and, while acknowledging that SCOUT eh! members were dedicated to Scouting, he rejected democracy and the possibility of a dialogue with SCOUT eh! members. This media publicity combined with word-of-mouth contributed to SCOUT eh!'s early rapid growth.

The first SCOUT eh! gathering, referred to as CAMP eh! was held September 24-26, 2004 at Camp Timken near Iona, Ontario. Two-dozen Scouters including Scouters from Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland gathered to learn about the issues, discuss strategy, and draft a constitution for the association.

Following CAMP eh!, SCOUT eh! published a series of backgrounders and short videos on its web site. Members continued to spread the word with fellow Scouters. Some newspaper stories spread word further. They also held a ratification vote on their constitution and, following its ratification, elections for leadership positions. This constituted the first democratic governance for a national association of Scouting members in Canada. The first National Officers were Mike Reid as Chair, Ted Claxton as Treasurer, and Liam Morland as Secretary.

Scouts Canada AGM 2004

By early November, Scouts Canada changed their approach to SCOUT eh!. Ted Claxton was invited to speak at the Scouts Canada Annual General Meeting on November 27, 2005 at Camp Samac in Oshawa, Ontario. SCOUT eh! organized its first eh!GM (AGM) at Durham College that weekend. Fifty SCOUT eh! members attended including Scouters from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. Following their meeting, SCOUT eh! members paraded to Camp Samac for the Scouts Canada AGM.

Ted Claxton addressed the meeting. Following his address, Mike Scott invited SCOUT eh! to submit a proposal to the Board of Governors regarding governance. The meeting had a friendly and conciliatory atmosphere.

As invited, SCOUT eh! submitted a governance proposal to the Board of Governors in January, 2005. In March, Mike Scott sent a response indicating that they had reviewed the proposal and believed it to be unworkable, but that they had asked the Operations Advisory Committee to consider changes to the process for selecting the three Voting Members from each council. No changes have resulted from this.

Recent developments

SCOUT eh! has pressed ahead with membership growth and the publication of information on its web site, particularly detailed analysis of Scouts Canada's finances by SCOUT eh! member and accountant Joseph Grittani.

In June, 2005, SCOUT eh!'s National Officers met with Scouts Canada CEO Rob Stewart. Mr. Stewart put them in contact with Keith Martin, a member of the Board of Governors working on developing a policy regarding democracy in Scouting. A meeting with Mr. Martin was held the following August. No progress towards democracy has resulted from this meeting.

In September 2006, SCOUT eh! announced it had surpassed 700 members nationally.

In 2007, Scouts Canada announced Policy 1014 which requires that each council's Voting Members be elected by representatives of the council, and its areas and groups. While acknowledging that the system is an improvement, SCOUT eh! criticizes the policy because:

  • most members of voting age are still not allowed to vote
  • votes are distributed in an unequal manner which favors councils, areas, and small groups
  • Ordinary Members remain many levels removed from the decision-making process of the Board of Governors, resulting in mis-communication

References

External links

See also

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