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Seven members of Manitoba Canola Growers Association face charges

(Friday, Dec. 13, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- The following is a press release.

Seven of the eight Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) directors will be facing charges for violations of the Manitoba Corporations Act.   In compliance with the criminal code, a provincial court judge has determined their prosecution will go ahead.  The charges stem from the directors having failed to fulfil the requirements of the Act to properly maintain the group's membership list and to release this information in a timely manner.   The directors being charged are president Ernie Sirski, Bruce Dalgarno, Brad Day, Warren Ellis, Edgar Scheurer, Randy  Betcher and Bev Stober.

Dalgarno was in the news recently, identified as one of a group of farmers, mostly all Wheat Growers, who contracted with Monsanto to assist in paving the way for the introduction of Roundup Ready wheat.  Sirski was likewise in the news when it was revealed that he and his wife attended a conference in Spain, along with two other Wheat Growers and their spouses,  all on Monsanto's tab. 

Eduard Hiebert, the eighth director, points out that in disproportion to the general farm population, the Canola directors facing criminal charges are all, except for Betcher and Stober, Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association members. Hiebert, who laid the complaint, believes that his fellow directors have failed in their responsibility to safeguard the interests of canola growers and failed to protect the integrity of the organization by ensuring fair and proper elections for directors. 

For example, many members still do not know that there is an election in progress until December 31 as the ballots arrived in a mail envelope easily mistaken for advertising while the envelope announcing the directors' bid to oust Hiebert, proudly displayed MCGA's logo. The seven MCGA directors have responded to Hiebert's attempts to clean up the election by distributing, while the election is going on, a circular directed to all members, announcing the directors' resolution calling for a special meeting of members to throw Hiebert off the board on January 14 in Brandon. Hiebert says that such threats simply prove that the directors are unwilling to respect the need to function according to democratic rule. "It would be a great irony if the members choose to re-elect me and the board attempts to overthrow their democratic choice." "This prosecution has become necessary because the directors have not indicated through concrete action that they intend to clean up the membership list and hold proper elections.  There appears to be no other way to force them to act responsibly." For more information please contact MCGA director Eduard Hiebert @ 864-2102 or his legal counsel Gene Zazelenchuk @ 943-1303.

Any producer who has not received or can't find their ballots, please call MCGA @ 745-2178. This year, perhaps as a means to create delay, they will require people requesting a ballot after the fact must fill out an affidavit an signed by a commissioner of oaths, like your Credit Union, RM secretary, Elevator agent etc. Ask MCGA to fax or email the form as I know it has taken over a week to have the form receaived in the mail. Please consider attending the annual meeting during first day of Brandon Ag days.  The business meeting will be held January 14, 2003 at 11:15 at which time they want the membership to have me removed as director.   Please review the proposed MCGA by-laws contained in the notice of meeting package.  Examples of power grab resolutions are :


 I draw your attention to the attached by-laws, particularly, by-law #'s 1, 10, 15, 18 and 35. 

With #35 the most offensive. Number 1  This years bylaw proposal stipulates a member is only a member when MCGA RECIEVES the check off money.  Last year it was when the check-off was DEDUCTED at the time of canola sale.  The difference means, it will now be the producer's responsibility to know if MCGA has received the money instead of MCGA being responsible that there is integrity in the check-off system. Number 10  is an attempt to legitimize undemocratic election procedures.  Last year under cover of claiming the voter's list is so confidential that it may not be made available to any candidate or their scrutineer.  Having lost the court case they have now removed "confidentiality" as a concern, but through this bylaw will deny candidates and their scrutineers being present when the ballots are "verified".  During the last two elections some 25% of ballots were never shown to the scrutineers nor counted!!!!   Should, MCGA staff and/or specified directors such as Ernie this year have unlimited access to the ballots, with no transparency to the process of whether only qualifying members received a ballot, nor whether only and all returned ballots will be counted.   

Re Number 15.

The constitution requires directors receive two weeks notice of a directors meeting and a meeting without sufficient notice requires unanimity to waive notice requirement.  (See Constitution p.2 #7.)  Last year they tried to introduce bylaw that as long as 2/3 agreed.  Now normal notice will be 2 days!  And the whole purpose of this was so they could meet in an emergency.  This bylaw prevents directors meeting sooner, even if all agree!!!!   

By-law # 18.

This by-law allows the members at an AGM or special meeting to remove any duly elected director without having any just cause other than they want to get rid of the person.  

 By-law # 35.

This by-law gives Ernie and the board the same powers as the membership.  Since members can remove a director at will and without cause, why should Ernie, basis #35 have any less power.   That Ernie is thinking about this is supported by the last page attached to the by-laws which is a letter from Mona Brown which goes through the steps required to remove a Director. Furthermore, this by-law will effectively give the directors a blank cheque to do almost as they wish.   When I tried to lesson the unfettered right of # 35 by requiring director created by-laws be confirmed at the next AGM, Ernie Sirski countered they do not want to run the board by way of "referendums"! 

Eduard Hiebert