UPDATE (June 2013) • Sometimes you just have know when to walk away. Despite the positive update I posted in April (below), the situation at Fair Vote has gotten worse and I’ve decided to quit the organisation after seven years of volunteering. I’m working with an amazing team of people to start a new national campaign for proportional government, called Unlock Democracy.
I’m not gonna go into details here, because we don’t need to air dirty laundry (and there is a LOT of dirty laundry here), but I’ll just mention four major turning points for me:
• The only group that actively campaigned against the RaBIT campaign, was Fair Vote Canada. I’ve never seen a movement so committed to shooting itself in the foot, and attacking its own peers.
• The Toronto Chapter Executive didn’t hold a single meeting for an entire year. Then they organised a rigged election for the 2013 Executive, by rejecting all the candidates they didn’t like.
• A recent meeting of the National Council ended with two young members in tears, after being verbally attacked by another member. Sadly, this type of bullying and harassment has been happening for years.
• I reached out to one of the key members of the National Council, and offered to sit down over lunch or coffee to discuss the situation. The offer was repeatedly turned down. If people aren’t prepared to talk, then there is little possibility to build consensus.
For these reasons – and hundreds more – I’m done. I wish Fair Vote the best of luck. There are some really good people working there, including the Executive Director Wayne Smith and the current President Doug Bailie.
But you gotta know when to fold ‘em. And I’m folding. The movement is big enough for two groups, and hopefully we can all work together at some point.
UPDATE (April 2013) • Good news, in regards to this story. The National Council of Fair Vote Canada has voted to reinstate Desmond Cole and Katherine Skene on the Toronto Chapter Executive. Also, they have accepted the nominations (previously rejected) for National Council, for Sarah Lambert, Gautam Lamba, and others.
There is also now a comprehensive agreement in place that allows both RaBIT and Fair Vote to work collaboratively.
I want to personally thank Jim Harris who has been working tirelessly to forge a consensus and encourage a healthy dialogue and required compromise on all sides. He is truly a master of mediation.
As someone who is a committed volunteer for both RaBIT and Fair Vote, I’m thrilled to see everyone on the same page. Thanks Jim, and also thanks to our Executive Director, Wayne Smith. And thanks to all members of National Council who supported this positive step forward.
Now, let’s get to work. If you support proportional representation, and you’re not a member of Fair Vote… join today! It’s only $10:
Thanks for your support
A couple of weeks ago, three members of Fair Vote Canada were expelled from their elected positions on the Toronto Chapter Executive (myself, Desmond Cole and Katherine Skene). One week later, three members were told that their nominations for the Fair Vote National Council had been rejected (Sarah Lambert, Gautam Lamba and Katherine) – simply because they had volunteered with an external group.
I’ve been involved with community organising for 15 years. I’ve volunteered for dozens of groups in Toronto, I’ve been employed by about 15 non-profits, I’ve served as a Director on boards such as the Mayworks Arts Festival, and I’ve been a member of two political parties. I’ve seen my share of conflict. But in all that time, I can say that I’ve never experienced this kind of exclusionary, top-down, anti-democratic behaviour. It’s stunning, and the worst part is that it’s happening within an organisation called “Fair Vote”.