Delegates attending a special general meeting of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association Monday were split on how drastically they wish to change their ‘parliament’ in light of changing times.
The BCFGA executive called the meeting with a series of proposals to reorganize the 124-year-old organization.
Although growers readily agreed to change the date of their annual general meeting, they were unwilling to permit orchard operators to allow their spouses, daughters, sons, daughters-in-law or sons-in-law to vote in their stead.
That motion was tabled for clarification prior to the next agm after an hour of heated debate. The agm is to be held prior to March 1, 2014.
Grower Sam DiMaria called it a ‘slippery slope,’ that doesn’t require that those voting have any accountability to the industry.
Although BCFGA president Jeet Dukhia said it was about succession within the industry, DiMaria said that was a red herring. “There’s nothing stopping younger members of a family from being involved now.”
And, they defeated a motion calling for multi-year terms for executive members, citing concerns about election of a ‘weak or bad’ member, then being stuck with that person for two years.
Because of concerns about proportional representation, they also tabled a motion to set a fixed number of delegates.
The number of delegates currently is based on the acreage in production, rather than on a fixed number of delegates from different geographic regions.
Growers did agree to reduce the number of regions, from four to two, a reflection of the reduced orchard acreage in the valley and to simplify the current system.
In a discussion about getting rid of the delegate system of electing representatives to vote on motions at the agm, growers told the executive they wanted to keep the current system.
Wilf Mennell of Cawston noted that the delegate system helps to educate younger growers about the industry and the system and to help recruit new leaders.
Delegates have a vested interest in the industry, so it’s important to keep the delegate system, commented Brian Porter, a delegate from the Central Okanagan.
DiMaria said the delegate system is the more-democratic system. He admitted that delegates don’t always vote the way he wishes them to, but at least each member gets to vote for the delegate they want to represent them at the agm.
He questioned the way currently a swarm of growers suddenly appear at the agm to vote for the president and vice-president, yet they haven’t shown up at a meeting all year and know nothing about the issues. A delegate system ensures those voting on policy do know about the issues, he said.
They also panned the idea of moving to proxy voting, citing concerns that one individual could end up with dozens or more votes from different members who didn’t want to show up for the meeting.
A quorum of delegates turned out for the special meeting, but only about 20 or so of the 500 members came out.