Published on July 5, 2011
GRANTON – Provincial SPCA officials have suspended Pictou County’s SPCA president from her volunteer position pending an investigation.
Margie Garland, who has been an SPCA board member for 28 years, learned June 27 from an email sent by executive director Kristin Williams, that she had been suspended.
In the email, Williams said NS SPCA had received a complaint from two former board members and the “substance of the allegations was based on communications, engagement and management.”
"I think this is happening because I am one to stand up and say what we feel,” said Garland, who asked for clarification on the allegations and never received any.
“I didn’t shy away from them and I told them different times that this is not going to work for our branch,” said Garland, referring to changes the Nova Scotia SPCA, which governs all provincial branches, wants to make to individual shelters.
She said they asked them to change adoption papers, requested the shelter’s hours of operation be extended and are dictating how things are run at the shelter.
Garland said the Pictou County shelter was asked to renovate its building after an audit was conducted, and is doing so now. They have been asked to open on Good Friday and near Christmas for adoptions.
“That is not the day to adopt animals,” said Garland. “It’s a last-minute thought for people to get an animal for Easter and it comes back the next week.
“The worst thing that came up was in the new governance, monies raised from the local shelter will go to the provincial office and they will spend it in the community, but I don’t think the people of Pictou County will like that,” said Garland. “They are giving the money to us to look after the animals in our shelter, in our community.”
Pictou County SPCA board member Joyce Jardine is worried as well about the measure.
“We don’t know how the money will be used in Pictou County,” said Jardine.
Williams said, in an email to The News, she recommended the suspension of Garland for the protection of her and the society.
“Two additional members of the board have been engaged to assist me to carry out an investigation to determine if the allegations have merit (one elected member and one branch representative). At this time, no determinations have been made, but the allegations were serious enough to require some immediate action,” said Williams.
Both Garland and Jardine said the measures SPCA Nova Scotia is making is to get rid of the current board members so they can be replaced with individuals who will accept the new governance model.
“How can they tell us what to do on a daily basis when what is happening in our branch might be different than what is happening in another branch?” said Garland.
Last week, the Yarmouth Vanguard reported the entire Yarmouth SPCA board handed in their resignations to the provincial board stating the “draft models of governance being explored were unacceptable and unworkable.”
Williams said the SPCA is currently engaged in governance reform that began in the spring of 2009 and has become more focused since April.
“Ultimately the model of governance that is elected will be determined by the provincial board of directors with input from elected members and branch representatives,” said Williams.
Well then! On the surface it sounds very reasonable... who wouldn't complain about monies raised at the branch level going to provincial? So I went and had a look at the latest publicly available online bod minutes
- Under the Governance section, it " was clarified that under any governance model, all monies raised within a specific community would stay within the community
- It also "clarified that money raised under the banner of the SPCA remains under the stewardship and direction of the SPCA.
Oscar Wilde once said that the truth is rarely pure and never simple. It has been my experience that the most difficult thing for anyone is to be honest with themselves.
When we make mistakes .. it is the rare soul who will step up and say "I f***ed up". Of course, it must be difficult to get in the spirit of things if one doesn't actually attend the meetings. Out of the six bod meetings posted online for this calendar year, it would seem that Ms Garland has not seen fit to attend even one.
I expect it is a novelty for the branches to find provincial being concerned with seeing more than the annual branch report. To have an executive director determined to meet her given mandate of meeting the Strategic Goals for the society.
The society is more than Metro. It more than the provincial branch. Each and every time a Nova Scotia resident anywhere in the province has occasion to deal with one branch, their experience imprints the expectation that this is standard practice for the society.
It is preposterous to say that the new rules should only apply in the city! It is poor logic to say that No Kill will not work outside of HRM when Branch directors stand in such strong opposition to the practical measures needed for No Kill.
Changing shelter hours and holiday adoptions are a whole lot better than the sign that was previously on the front door of the Pictou website forever and a day. The one that stated they were full up and had no room for more cats! If that was the old way ... it is no wonder that volunteers were resigning.
But I am a fan of honesty. Before I retired, I often had to march to someone else's beat. It was part and parcel of belonging to an organization. Now that I am retired, I can decide how to spend my days. When to wake up. What to wear. To say what I want ... how I want.
That is because the pet project is a one woman band. As long as the branches want to wave the SPCA Banner, they have to march to the tune played by the SPCA. It really isn't any more complicated than that!