Vancity board’s intervention defended and condemned
With respect, Wilson Parasiuk’s expression of outrage toward the Vancity elections and his comparison to totalitarian regimes is highly overstated [“ Vancity elections criticized”, April 12-19]. I expect more than merely sensational rhetoric from a Straight columnist.
As a long-time member of Vancity, I do not believe that having an elections committee conduct a selection process resulting in endorsed candidates can ever be construed as election “rigging”. Like other organizations, Vancity is responding to its organization’s need for specific skills. Like other boards, the Vancity board appears to be working with its executive in managing the affairs, setting policy, and formulating strategy to better serve its members.
As I understand the process, Vancity sets out stated criteria for the experience, background, and skills it feels are currently needed to continue to provide good service. I believe that giving the members a shortlist of those candidates amongst the others who seem to have the best combinations of experience and skills does not make the process undemocratic.
In fact, I believe that if the board has erred in its endorsements and failed to recognize a nominee, or recommended a nominee who does not meet the currently desired skills of the credit union, then the members will make that correction by democratically electing the most worthy candidates.
There are a number of ways our democracy may be under threat but it is not because of Vancity’s elections. Let’s not dissuade community leaders by branding Vancity’s process with unwarranted assertions.
> Carol White / Vancouver
Wilson Parasiuk, having headed a Crown corporation, should know that there’s no point in complaining about a rigged election at Vancity. Size is everything, and past a critical point, even a credit union that rose from the grassroots and had direct democracy in its earlier days is going to start acting like any other corporation top-heavy with team players who want to get rid of anybody who isn’t.
The only thing Parasiuk can do is take his money over to a smaller credit union.
> Ralph Maud / Vancouver
As a values-based financial cooperative, democracy is at the very core of Vancity.
The changes made in last year’s election were, in fact, in direct response to our members’ request for more and better information about the individual candidates to inform their voting. Prior to the changes, only one-third were satisfied with the election process. After, two-thirds felt the changes improved the process.
Our board has a responsibility to ensure a strong governance framework that strengthens democracy and board performance. In 2011, we retired the use of competing slates (teams) running for the board, and introduced a process to identify the desired characteristics and attributes of a future board, as well as current gaps in board diversity, experience, and skills. Recommending candidates identifies candidates who best fill those gaps. This enables members to base their vote both on what they appreciate in the candidates and on identified board needs.
We’re privileged that 13 very strong candidates have put their names forward in our 2012 election. The board has recommended five candidates for consideration and we fully support members’ right to vote for any three candidates they believe will best guide Vancity.
> Virginia Weiler / Board Chair, Vancity Credit Union