Greek Organizations v. Hellenic Canadian Congress
In February 2018, the Hellenic Congress of Quebec (HCQ) sued the Hellenic Canadian Congress (HCC) in the Superior Court of Ontario for a significant number of improprieties and irregularities in the operation of the national organization of Canadians of Greek descent. The improprieties included operating for years without complying with its own constitution. It held no elections, provided no financial statements and had no annual conventions. Worse, it amended its constitution in 2016 without authority, to suit its purposes.
The case was heard by Justice Nishikawa who issued a 30-page judgment against the HCC on April 14, 2020. She declared nine articles of the 2016 Constitution invalid and confirmed the HCC’s failures as enumerated above.
That should have been enough for the current board of directors to jump into high gear to clean up the mess that they had created. However, we are in the age of Donald Trump and instead of bowing their heads and apologizing to people for their “errors” the board members issued a press release two days after the judgment declaring victory. The press release stated that “we finally received the much-awaited victory which vindicated the Canadian Hellenic Congress as a National organization.” If you believe that Donald Trump won the 2020 U.S. elections, then you can also believe that the HCC won the lawsuit.
In lawsuits the losing party usually pays costs to the winning side. Justice Nishikawa in her reasons for awarding costs fount that the Hellenic Congress of Quebec “was successful on all grounds raised” and ordered the Hellenic Canadian Congress to pay costs in the sum of $15,496.93. Despite the judge’s order, it has not done so.
Aside from paying the costs that it was ordered to pay, the next step of the HCC was surely to call a general meeting where it will report on its activities to the members, resolve issues of the Constitution in accordance with Justice Nishikawa’s judgment and most importantly hold elections for a new board of directors.
On June 10, 2020, the CHC issued, under the signatures of its president Dr. T. Halatsis and its Secretary Costas Pappas, an 11-page Notice of Conference and Annual General Meeting to be held on November 27, 28 and 29, 2020 in Montreal.
The Order of Business enumerates a number of reports but there is no financial statement attached. And there is no call for elections of a new board of directors. Is there a notice of elections hidden somewhere in the 11 pages that I missed? You can see the Notice on the HCC’s website here: www.chcongress.ca.
The presidents of five Greek organizations have written to the HCC objecting to the Annual General Meeting. I reproduce the contents of their letter:
1. The upcoming HCC General Assembly, called for November 27, 2020, to change articles of the HCC bylaws, deemed invalid by the Ontario Superior Court (OSC), must be postponed until the time when the HCC has elected a legitimate BOD, with the participation of major Hellenic Canadian Organizations.
2. Since the term of office of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the HCC has expired, either in 2018 or 2019, according to the judgment (Para. 146), new elections must be called by 14 February 2021 at the latest.
3. The elections held in November 2019, pending the court decision, are completely irregular and lack any legitimacy, firstly, because, they were carried out with the participation of the Quebec Regional Council, an organization which, according to the judge’s ‘declaration that the QRC was created improperly and without authority’ (Para.153), and secondly, because they were ‘conducted in the absence of important constituencies of the organization’ (HCQ, HCCBC, etc.), according to the judge’s comments (Para. 157).
4. The coherence of Canada’s Hellenism requires the existence of an organization that enjoys the trust and participation of the most important regional organizations, just as the founders of the HCC envisioned it and just as the HCC functioned for many years.
5. The current Board of Directors of the Hellenic Canadian Congress has repeatedly ruled out the participation of important provincial congresses on the principle of non-payment of membership fees and therefore loss of membership rights, a position which the Ontario Superior Court has decided to be devoid of legitimacy, since the provincial organizations are not just members, but integral parts of the organization and as such are not obliged to pay fees (Judgment Para. 42).
The letter is signed by George Diamantopoulos, the president of the Hellenic Canadian Congress of British Columbia, Dennis Marinos, President of Hellenic Congress of Quebec, Andreas Crilis, President of the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal, Andonis Artemakis, President of the Greek Community of Toronto and Nick (Nikitas) Papadopoulos, the President of the Greek Canadian Community New Brunswick.
Five former presidents of the Canadian Hellenic Congress have also sent a letter to the board of directors objecting to holding a General Meeting without elections. They are: Dr. George Tsoukas, Nikos Panos, Dimitrios Manolakos, George Pitsicoulis and George Manolakakis.
By any count, these people represent most Canadians of Greek descent. One wonders what it would take to make the current board of directors of the Hellenic Canadian Congress to listen to our leaders and comply with a court judgement and common sense.