Transforming RAC – The Last Post?

John Bartlett, VE1OZ/HK3OZ, has sent us what appears to be his last post Transforming RAC – Part 15. In it, he encourages the RAC leadership to carry on with the process which he first introduced to us in 2008 and now has more fully revisited in 2010. He makes it clear he won’t be joining us in Ottawa and declares that as he is not a member of the board or the executive he feels he has no place at the discussion table which is not open to the general membership.

John’s efforts on our behalf have met with a spectrum of response from Canadian amateurs ranging from indifference, even hostility to elation and enrollment.

Personally I found in John a man of rare integrity and devotion to the hobby he loves. John had the courage to complete an incomplete process begun two years ago in Cornwall, Ontario at RAC’s AGM where he shared a process to determine the future of RAC. Now in 2010 he takes his leave by challenging each of us to express our own dream for RAC and Amateur Radio in Canada. I have enjoyed our almost daily chats via Skype and will miss the hours of discussion and debate that followed but I support him in his decision to step back now. He has done us a great service and I believe I can claim him as a friend and for that alone I am complete and grateful.

And since early July when John began this odyssey and his missives were published on this blog, you too have participated by the hundreds of views per day and scores of emails and posts.

So what lessons have we learned and what lessons await us?

First, as moderator of the blog, I have discovered that some of us live in the memories of the past which make seeing a vision for the future impossible. That is so sad but is says to me there is much healing of old wounds that has yet to be addressed. All of us in the RAC leadership group have a responsibility here to bring this about.

On the other hand, scores of you feel passionately optimistic about your hobby and RAC. This is so encouraging. I think many agree that the problems RAC faces are actually small and easily fixed if there is a desire to address the underlying issues and that’s to paraphrase Shakespeare “therein lies the rub.” Do we have the courage to look deeply into that which ails us or would it be better to end it all now as a few have claimed? To Shakespeare again: “To sleep: perchance to dream: Ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come.”

So what are the underlying issues? Let me tell you a story:

Ten years ago or so my local Toastmaster club, one of the oldest in Canada, was facing a similar crisis to what RAC is facing today. Our numbers were declining and we were having problems filling the weekly job schedule that makes a Toastmaster meeting work. (Toastmaster clubs need at least 20 members to be considered viable and healthy. Our club was barely reaching even these minimum standards.)

We decided to survey every guest past and present about their experience and what we discovered horrified us. We were considered by newcomers to be elitist, unfriendly, cold and intimidating. We were shocked as we realized we had lost our focus. In our passion to become better speakers, we had forgotten the newcomer standing at the door.

So now, years later, when you come to my Toastmaster club as a guest, our greeters will shake your hand, introduce you to an executive member and a senior member will be assigned to formally introduce you to the meeting assembly. They will sit with you to answer any questions you might have and at the end of the night, the membership chair will talk with you about joining the club. You will be invited back as our guest for two more meetings.

As we begin our 55th season, First Oakville Toastmasters begins the year with an unheard of 40-returning members and we anticipate closing the year with a record-setting 60 members which will make this club one of the largest in North America.

So can RAC create a similar cultural shift?

If we do, we can thank John Bartlett for showing us the way. And if we fail, then we shall see what dreams may come.

4 Responses to “Transforming RAC – The Last Post?”

  • John Bartlett for President !!!!!

  • As has been said previously, the ball is now in the RAC Executive and Board court. Of course, the President is part of the Executive.

    I am hoping those in a position to do so will take the lead and meet the challenges. So far, the general silence of RAC Board and Executive has been disappointing, perhaps indicative of what’s happening (or not happening) behind closed doors.

    Any further dithering just serves to increase the probability of RAC’s death, the funeral for which the current Board and Executive would almost certainly be seen as having the dubious distinction of presiding over.


    “Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.” – C.E. Stowe

  • I have discovered that some of us live in the memories of the past which make seeing a vision for the future impossible.

    In one sentence you have summarized the single biggest problem facing amateur radio in Canada today.

  • Let’s make an assumption here: We want RAC to survive and prosper as it serves our needs and desires. The question of course is: How do we transform RAC so that the above is realized?


    It seems that RAC’s internal structure (and way of doing things) is being called to account. Some have questioned why we, as members, don’t get to elect the officers of RAC, particularly the President. In fact, some have painted RAC as uniquely closed in this area. It is not.

    RAC’s governance structure conforms to the standard model used for most corporations, including the American Radio Relay League. A Board of Directors is elected by the shareholders/members, and that Board chooses (elects) the officers. The Board sets the policy and direction of the corporation, and the officers perform their necessary functions to make that happen. The officers are directly accountable to the Board of Directors, and the Directors are accountable to the members or shareholders. Of course in RAC’s case, the Directors are geographically chosen.

    However, though RAC’s governance structure is not a subversive creation of an “old boy’s club”, can it better reflect the principles of transparency and accountability to its members? Should the President, for example, be elected by the membership?

    There are dangers in that idea. One of the supposed advantages of the Board electing the President, and other officers, is that they can choose people who are willing to follow their leadership or oversight of the thrust of direction in the organization. If the President is elected by the membership, he may not feel the need to follow the Board, as he has his own mandate from the people.

    On the other hand, with the present system, the officers may become more concerned with pleasing the Board, and less concerned with pleasing the membership. Mind you, we’ve had enough conflict with this present system between Board and Officers; what would the other bring?

    I certainly don’t have the answer on which is best; it is something we all can collectively decide.

    More Directors:

    In a future RAC, many would like to see more even representation on the Board of Directors than what we have at present. Some higher population provinces do not have the same representation on the Board as their numbers suggest. Therefore, some have indicated that this disparity be addressed.

    In government, there is supposed to be proportional representation. Therefore, it is not a foreign concept to us. All should have an equal voice. However, I might ask: Is there any place for distinct provincial recognition? I tend to think not, as radio is a federally-controlled area and we are all affected by its regulation of same, whether we are in BC or PEI. However, what are your thoughts?


    It was also indicated that Quebec has 26.32% of the hams in Canada, and only one Director; and that should be increased. I’m afraid that I do not necessarily agree with that. Why?

    As of the end of 2006, the RAC penetration percentage was less than 2%; by far the lowest percentage in the whole country. In number of members, Quebec had 254. True, these are dated figures, but I don’t think they have changed a whole lot.

    Therefore, why would we increase our representation from that province on the Board until we see far better support for RAC? At 254 or thereabouts, one Director is more than sufficient to represent Quebec, until they see the need to join our ranks. If more members do come from our neighbour province, then we should quickly modify their representation on the Board in harmony with that. I would love to see that happen!

    And so, what would you like to see modified in RAC’s governance?

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