The Journal’s feature on the Annual General Meeting [BCMJ 2010;52:290-293] hinted at problems that warrant expansion.
While the segue to Zafar Essak and Caroline Wang bears no comment, to write that their business took “a lot of time” risks losing the merit of the business inside its treatment. Highly significant to my view were repeated ad hominem objections levied by one director at Dr Essak. Those objections, later built upon by other directors, were countered by Past President John Turner.
I found it was this fruitless antagonism, more than anything else, that frustrated remaining attendees. To my view, the standing rules of our AGMs should provide that the demeanor of any speaker and any items they raise, once criticized, not be subject to repeat objection by the same person. Further objection should have to be levied by some other attendee.
It was learnt that the Association spent $375000 to date in direct costs pertaining to Dr Wang. No reference was made to her provision of facts, which she clearly wished accessible to members. No mention was made of Past President Ian Courtice’s appeal to the Board to quickly resolve this matter.
On low attendance, Dr Lloyd Oppel asserted that it was the norm for associations everywhere. The BCMJ’s managing editor proposed that given the many opportunities for input that people now have (phone, e-mail, regular surveys, elections), the AGM has become obsolete, “a dinosaur on the brink of extinction.”
With all due respect to such opinion holders, the Association might better take low attendance as a failure to convince members that attending matters. This hinges on whether and how well those in charge show themselves to be open, accountable, and responsive, and to accord regular members a meaningful voice. The social program, while important, cannot compensate for the entrenched business portion that I maintain us to have evolved.
Our recent AGMs return to questions of transparency, accountability, and function. I shall have asked the Board to answer these squarely at its September meeting.
—Jim Busser, MD
BCMA Delegate, District 3
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