Confusion or scandal? MAID & Delta Hospice Society
by Danielle Martell
In most societies, AGMs are uneventful, poorly attended, boring meanderings of the dutifully dedicated. It’s not every day that boards, like the one at Delta Hospice, warrant the privilege of sudden surges in attendees. Last year’s AGM gathered 33 people, but this year? A soaring 190! Why the mass influx?
Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) lies at the heart of the influx. MAID is a barbaric practice whereby a doctor provides the lethal means to terminate a patient’s life. Though formerly considered murder, MAID was decriminalized under Justin Trudeau in June, 2016. Speculation abounds that many board members want to bring MAID into hospice, even though it’s against the constitution which protects life. The board has even gone so far as to fire Executive Director, Nancy Macey (Sep. 3, 2019), who over 25 years, built Delta Hospice into a state-of-the-art facility in providing end of life care. The board’s decision deeply disturbed many people.
Also notable is Janice Strukoff’s firing, Delta Hospice Accountant (Aug. 21, 2019). Strukoff, who faithfully served hospice for over eight years, was fired without cause by Sharon Farrish, who, at the time, was the Acting Executive Director. Other important staff have also mysteriously disappeared from key roles. The threads stringing these now terminated employees together? Their prolife stand. Though other suggestions may be implied as to why Macey and Strukoff were fired, many members find such suggestions an insult to their intelligence.
As for the meeting itself, there were people present on both sides of the MAID debate, yet the prolife members far outnumbered the others. MAID was never directly addressed. However, it was the underlying tension driving the meeting. Instead of the board being forthright about the challenging issues at hand, the meeting was saturated with confusion. Or was it scandal? Members are bound to have strong opinions.
Starting off, the board denied voting rights to several people who paid membership dues earlier that month, a move breaking with precedence. Other unique things occurred. A Fraser Health employee, who was never introduced, sat with the board. Why was she present? When the board doesn’t openly tell the members, members are left to speculate. Was she perhaps present to suss out the people’s appetite for MAID at hospice? Whatever happened, some are optimistic that she will speak to Fraser Health on the members’ behalf, understand how upset the majority is, and defend hospice’s current constitution to the Health district.
Honestly though, if the board wouldn’t explain her presence, why would they bother to explain anything? They conveniently need not say hardly ten words to their membership. First, a Parliamentarian was chairing the meeting, and then when controversy arose, the board’s lawyer, Christine Elliott, spoke regularly on the board’s behalf. Wait! The board’s lawyer? Why does the board need a lawyer at an AGM? Last I checked, lawyers didn’t frequent AGMs. Who’s paying for this lawyer? Is this coming out of charitable donations?
Charitable donations bring up another important point: the financial statements, which the membership didn’t get. They did receive a financial summary upon arrival, but this afforded them no time to give reasonable thought to the sensitive area of money. Why the lack of clarity and transparency? Interestingly, the date of the AGM (Oct. 22, 2019) was delayed seven months after year end. Perhaps the board ran out of time.
Electing new directors: There were 190 voters but 201 ballots cast. One woman stuck up her hand stating that she had two ballot cards in her manila packet, though she only voted with one. Who else got two or more ballots? Did they vote twice? Obviously. How do you get the privilege of voting twice? Do you have to be pro-MAID? Did the extra voting happen behind closed doors when ballots were being counted? Or was this staged? Were there really 190 people present?
By the way, Chris Pettypiece has exceeded his 8-year maximum term on the board even though he’s openly confessing he’s unwilling to step down. Wait. Why is no body doing anything about this? Is this why the board has a lawyer here? Are you serious? Members need to pay lawyers to have him step down? Are members being bullied by their board?
And last, but not least, the special resolution. And ‘special’ it was. Simple process: repeal current bylaws, replace with new model bylaws. not so fast slippery slope! The membership postponed this motion to a future meeting. Why? Again, lack of clarity and transparency. Members had received one copy of the new model bylaws and then another copy of these model bylaws with amendments on it. This was tricky. If you weren’t paying close attention, you could easily mistake the amended model bylaws for the current bylaws, thinking only minor amendments were being made. In reality, the amendments were not minor in the least. The membership was never given the current bylaws to see what they were rejecting in its entirety. Was this an intentional deception by the board, by their lawyer, or both? When challenged on this serious issue, their lawyer admitted, “This evening with the bylaws…. I thought it would be cleaner not to have a black line of the old bylaws to the new model bylaws and clearly I was in error on that…”
Despite the evening’s shenanigans, several members came well prepared, waded through the confusion, and were ready to say no to a board that had pushed them too far. The crowd was game and it was a night of Canadians in action! Sadly though, many are left questioning what it will take to keep MAID out of Hospice.
In the meantime, there is work to do sorting through the confusion. Or was it scandal? Either way, may God be our defence in defeating this culture of death.
Danielle Martell is an Anglican Priest, a regular contributor to Light Magazine, and a paid-up member of the Delta Hospice Society.