Is it time to look at the bigger picture?
Blog acronym dictionary is Here!
I'm a member of OECTA and an occasional teacher with an interest in the legal meaning of various by-laws. The complainants have cited by-laws that, in my opinion, do not apply to the charges. Their real complaint is that one filed an application for intervenor status and joined with a Board in a dispute with their locals. To the best of my knowledge, there is no by-law in the Handbook prohibiting a member or a unit from launching legal action of any type against any entity including OECTA and, if there was such a by-law, it would probably run afoul of various provincial and federal laws and statutes and regulations. The Letters Patent that established OECTA expressly forbid making any by-laws that are contrary to any law, statute or regulation made by the government. Going to court is a civil right of all citizens and is always an option.
"Promoting the interests of the association" has two aspects to it. First, it is a directive to make known to various parties what the membership would like known about themselves or what the membership would like to happen. This is done in various ways such as advertising, holding workshops, lobbying, establishing relationships with various entities, etc. Going to court is one such activity. Second, it authorizes the expenditure of money for these activities.
This by-law cannot be construed to mean anything else and this by-law cannot be breached except by failing to "promote, advance, advertise, make known, lobby, etc.". Conduct such as bad-mouthing the association, being rude to executives, interfering in the internal affairs of other locals, etc. would fall under other by-laws dealing with misconduct. Do we have by-laws regarding misconduct?
Are the OECTA by-laws really the law?
The by-laws cited by the complainants expressly authorize the executive committee and the president of the local to promote the interests of the association. The interests, objects, objectives of the association are specified and enumerated in the Letters Patent that established OECTA. These interests can only be changed by the Government of Ontario. Within the association, there may well be a difference of opinion among members as to how best to promote some specified interest. The final arbiter will be a judge, a general assembly or the Government of Ontario.
The conflict of interest by-law in the Handbook prohibits a member on any committee from voting on a matter where the outcome would constitute a financial benefit to him. The common practice is for the member to announce that a conflict of interest exists, leave the room during the discussion and not vote on the matter. The conflict of interest has to be noted in the minutes and a copy of the minutes sent to Provincial. This by-law is very specific and applies only to members on committees and does not apply to filing papers in a court of law.
The other by-laws cited by the complainants provide the authorization for holding a disciplinary hearing or a preamble to the conflict of interest by-law explaining its purpose. It is not possible to be in breach of them.