Eduard Hiebert

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When MCGA refused Eduard's nomination... Who Followed?   Who Switched the Rules?
  1. Brief history of MCGA's prior election irregularities
  2. Introducing the first irregularity in 2007
  3. Archived copy of MCGA posting the election rules and citing the key membership rule
  4. Key words and archived copy of revised MCGA election page
  5. Cooperator article on Hiebert barred as candidate

Brief history of MCGA's prior election irregularities

During the Manitoba Canola Growers 2007 director elections currently under way, several new and questionable election practices have occurred that will make it harder for candidates representing the will of the membership's majority, to have a fair and equal opportunity to be elected.  As these circumstances are not without a prior history and old habits die hard, a brief review of MCGA's sordid electoral politics in recent elections will help clarify the present circumstances.

Under Manitoba law, organisations are required to be democratic in order to be able to receive the farm "checkoff".  However, with the Government oversight lacking teeth, MCGA, under an Ernie Sirski and Bruce Dalgarno dominated board, had enjoyed the privilege of collecting hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from farmers annually for many  years through Manitoba's compulsory $0.50 per tonne of canola checkoff, without ever having to conduct a single director election!  Jumping ahead just a bit, MCGA intends to double the compulsory checkoff to $1/tonne for next year.

Then in early 2000, with what was has now become MCGA's last appointment to the MCGA board, Eduard Hiebert was appointed director.  Like the others, Eduard, could easily have gone along to get along and been acclaimed at the next AGM.  Not accepting this top down undemocratic practice, Eduard encouraged a further three farmers to stand for election.  With seven candidates for four positions, this required MCGA to hold an election, the first ever in its checkoff history and through very improper electioneering, none of the three were elected!  As was widely reported, including confirmed by independent scrutineer Fred Tait of Rosendale, MCGA conducted first one than the next year, two very questionable and improper elections.  Eduard then sought a court order, which MCGA spent thousands of farmers' dollars fiercely resisting what they ought to do in the first place, but Eduard did obtain the requested court order compelling MCGA to clean up its voters list and make it accessible to the membership in time for the next election!

With court order in hand and short of the letter of the law MCGA has with much reluctance corrected the most flagrant of practices, but these elections are still a shameful far cry from the standard demanded in civic elections.

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Introducing the first irregularity in 2007

Now to the first of this year's election irregularities.  In line with MCGA's recent electoral history, prior to the election, MCGA quite properly posted MCGA's nomination and election rules.  Subject to those rules and using the required nomination form, which repeated the membership rules, Eduard then submitted a completed nomination form prior to the deadline on October 31, 2007.

During a previous election, Eduard had been improperly removed from the list by which MCGA is obligated to give the membership notice of the election. While Bill Ross, MCGA's "Executive Manager", claimed he did not know how the "error" occurred he did provide the assurance that it would not happen again.  This year, but a few days prior to the deadline, Eduard realised he had again not received the required notice, now this time, without having to check MCGA's records, Bill Ross "knew" and asserted my membership had lapsed, adding I had made no checkoff within the last two year period.  When I assured him I had, then in line with previous elections policy and practice, which Bill Ross repeated to me, that if I faxed him a copy of my grain receipt, showing a deduction was made within the time period, everything would be fine!

However later, they changed their tune saying the membership rule was not when the money was deducted, but when MCGA received the money.

For an archived copy of what MCGA had posted until the nomination deadline, please see this page.

"An eligible member is a member who has paid an MCGA canola check-off deduction since September 30, 2005 and... prior to September 30, 2007."

Please note, for clarity purposes, the section I omitted in the above quote does not apply to me, as I have not asked for a refund.

Please note further, on the archived copy just referenced, further below, you will find the required nomination form which repeats the membership rule.

Since then, MCGA has removed this information and after the nomination deadline posted different rules.  On this set of information, you will note no nomination form is available!

Please see MCGA's website.

Just in case MCGA attempts to clean up their rules further, for a duly
archived copy, please see this page.

This election page was only made available after the nomination deadline.   Ignoring for now all the other changes, the key revised rules are as follows:

"The membership list includes all individuals and corporations;...

2.   whose check-off MCGA has received between September 30th of 2005 and September 30th of 2007"

Even though the MCGA directors have received proof positive that my check-off has been paid and all companies only remit funds one month after a quarter has closed, with my checkoffed money clearly in a "receivable" and bankable position, MCGA is turning a wilfully blind eye to this information, claiming the check-off company must actually remit the money to MCGA BEFORE a farmer with a check-off is considered a member.  This now creates a time gap of up to four months where the farmer has paid the checkoff, but MCGA, despite prove, now intends to refuse members their membership rights.

Is this change in the rules and changes to the website accidental?  Or part of old habits dying hard?

I now turn to the second break from recent election procedures and practices, a change which will disadvantage some candidates.

For reasons yet to be explained and in contradiction to the established practice over the last few elections, this year MCGA refused to publish the candidates' biographies the day after nominations closed (October 31) and did not do so until after the ballots must be mailed on November 15!  Why the delay?  One possible reason is that this delay gives a calculated advantage to the inside directors and the inside crowd to begin their election period while the remainder of the members do not yet even know there will be an election.

What is for certain, is the following:  During an earlier election, I noticed other candidates biographies were posted on the website but not mine.  That year Bill Ross told me I had not requested to have mine posted there!

Then regarding the length of the biographies, there is no doubt in my mind, that during a directors meeting Ernie Sirski was the one who first advanced the meagre 150 word rule limit, knowing in my opinion it would work to the disadvantage of new comers.

Then two elections ago, despite Meyers Norris Penny in charge of the election, including printing the biographies, Bill Ross had taken clear steps to tell me my biography could be no more than 150 words and needed to be submitted before the deadline in order to qualify.  In previous years the practice was submit the nomination form and if an election, then submit the biographies.  However, in the 2003 election, even though Bill Ross was vigilant in restricting mine to 150 words, neither he nor MNP took steps to apply the rule to Ernie Sirski.

During the last election in 2005, when the biographies were published on the website after the nominations closed, it was only after I drew attention to the fact that each of the inside directors, including Ernie Sirski had exceeded the 150 word limit that had been religiously applied to mine, that MNP then undertook to allow these directors after the deadline to resubmit new biographies.

Following the Cooperator article below, in which MCGA people claim in fairness to exercise one set of rules equally to all an dispersions are cast that I am seeking a special variation on the rules, you be the judge who followed the rules and who changed the rules.

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Cooperator article on Hiebert barred as candidate

Hiebert says he should be able to run because checkoff taken
Five running for four Canola Grower Association seats

by Allan Dawson
22 November, 2007

Co-operator staff

Five farmers, including two incumbents and three newcomers, are running for four director positions on the Manitoba Canola Grower's Association (MCGA) board this fall.

St. Francois Xavier farmer, Ed Hiebert says he should be on the ballot too. But he won't be ironically, because the association is sticking to its rules.

Hiebert, a former MCGA director and critic of the MCGA for not following proper procedures, says he delivered canola during the previous two years, didn't request the MCGA checkoff be refunded and therefore should be eligible to vote and run in the election. He also submitted his nomination papers before the Oct. 31 deadline. The problem is the collected checkoff money didn't reach the MCGA by the September 30 deadline as required by MCGA bylaws, said MCGA president Brian Chorney.

In this particular case we haven't received any checkoff (money) and as an association we have to live by our bylaws, Chorney said in a recent interview last week from his East Selkirk-area farm. As a board we reviewed it and we don't feel we have any right to make any exceptions to the bylaws for anybody. We all have to live by the same rules.

Hiebert said in the past farmers were considered members in good standing if they could prove the checkoff had been deducted. Hiebert said he assumed that would happen in his case after he complied with the request from MCGA executive director Bill Ross Oct. 31 to supply cash tickets documenting his checkoff was paid.

Ross confirmed he asked Hiebert for the documentation, but added the final decision was up to the MCGA board. Ross denied Hiebert's assertion that documentation of the checkoff's deduction has been accepted as proof of membership in the past. Hiebert said he delivered canola late in the crop year because he was waiting for prices to improve. He said the company that purchased his canola isn't at fault because, in effect, it's doing the MCGA a favour by collecting and remitting the canola checkoff. Hiebert said he suspects there are other farmers who wrongly assume they are MCGA members because the association didn't receive their checkoff money in time. Chorney said farmers can easily find out if they are members by telephoning the MCGA. Those who want to vote or run in MCGA elections should check their membership long before the deadlines and ensure their member dues reach the association in time. We are not singling anyone out, Chorney said. It would be unfair to other members in the organization or potential candidates if we start making exceptions for anyone. 

Hiebert, a stickler for proper protocol, was appointed to the MCGA board to fill a vacancy and then elected to a two-year term in 2000. He alienated his fellow directors when he complained the MCGA's voters' list was flawed and therefore undemocratic. A judge agreed with him and ordered the list improved.

In 2002, Hiebert launched a private prosecution against his fellow directors alleging they breached the Manitoba Corporations Act by failing to keep a proper membership list. Court of Queen's Bench judge, Gerald Jewers quashed the action.

Hiebert's fellow directors accused him of being disruptive and uncooperative. They even vowed to pass a resolution to kick him off the board if he had been re-elected in 2003. Hiebert said he was trying to make the association more democratic. Hiebert ran unsuccessfully for the MCGA's board in 2003 and 2005.

Incumbent directors Bruce Dalgarno of Newdale and Dale Gryba of Gilbert Plains are seeking re-election. Two other incumbents Brad Day of Deloraine and Tom Kieper of Russell are not seeking reelection. Barry Chappell of Hamiota, Clayton Harder of Winnipeg and Robert Pettinger of Elgin are three newcomers seeking office.

Meyers Norris and Penny has been hired to run the elections. Ballots were mailed to 9,000 MCGA members Nov. 15. Members have until December 10, 2007 to return their ballots and counting will occur on December 11, 2007. New directors will assume their MCGA responsibilities following the annual meeting.

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