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GREEKS AGAINST GREEKS

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Hellenic Congress of Quebec v. Hellenic Canadian Congress


In February 2018, the Hellenic Congress of Quebec (HCQ) launched an action against the Hellenic Canadian Congress (HCC) in the Superior Court of Ontario. The HCQ made allegations of improprieties on several issues including the passing of the 2016 Constitution, the lack of financial accounting since 2012 despite repeated demands and the failure to hold elections for the National Council since 2012.

The matter was heard on October 9 by Justice Nishikawa and further written submissions were filed on October 31, 2019. Justice Nishikawa released her reasons for judgment on April 14, 2020.

On April 16, the HCC issued a Press Release titled “The Canadian Hellenic Congers is legal!” and further stating that the “we finally received the much awaited victory which vindicated the Canadian Hellenic Congress as a National organization.” The full Press Release is reproduced below.

I obtained a copy of the judgment and even on a cursory reading it was quite obvious that there was no issue of HCC being legal and no vindication of HCC as a National organization for the simple reason that there was no question of its legality and no finding by the judge on the issue of its legality or a national organization.

In addition to the misleading Press Release I received a copy of a letter from Senator Leo Housakos congratulating the HCC on their victory. The Senator’s Letter is attached.

I became convinced that Senator Housakos had not been provided with a copy of the judgment and out of respect for him decided to write the following letter to him:

The impetus for writing to you is the recent decision of Nishikawa J. in Hellenic Congress of Quebec v. Hellenic Canadian Congress and your letter to Dr. Halatsis of April 23, 2020.

It is yet another case of Greek against Greek that has blighted the history of Canadians of Greek origin in Canada.  

I was present at the creation, as they say, of the CHC and have attended many of its general meetings as well as serving on the board of directors from 1986 to 1991. I know all the parties involved as well as leaders of our community across Canada and am aware of the far too many instances of our compatriots resorting to the courts at great cost to our community and by that I put the financial drain as a far second.

What struck me about your letter is your congratulations to the board of CHC for their court victory. I am sure you were not provided with the judgment of Justice Nishikawa which is anything but a victory and vindication for CHC. In fact it is quite the opposite.

The Judge made numerous highly critical findings about the conduct of CHC and this was her conclusion:

Conclusion

[156] It is clear from the evidentiary record that the CHC had for years acted in a manner inconsistent with its constituting documents.  It had no financial statements and elections and annual conventions were not being held.  As record-keeping was inconsistent, it is difficult to see how the organization was operating or who was making the decisions.  It certainly was not operating according to the governance structure in the 1999 Constitution.  Inevitably, there were differences of opinion among the constituent organizations that were exemplified by the dispute over fees and unequal treatment of the provincial organizations.  

[157] For the foregoing reasons, I find that the CHC did not comply with the 1999 Constitution when it passed the 2016 Constitution and when it created the QRC.  The 2016 Election was also irregular and was conducted in the absence of important constituencies of the organization.  Although it was the CHQ who commenced this Application, significant objections were voiced by almost many other provincial organizations and the largest municipal organizations before and after the 2016 Convention.  The CHC nonetheless proceeded with the Convention.

[158] Accordingly, the CHQ’s Application is granted and the following relief is ordered:

(a) A declaration that the QRC was created improperly and without authority;

(b) A declaration that the following provisions of the 2016 Constitution are of no force or effect until properly amended in accordance with section 19 of the 1999 Constitution:

 Article 7, section 6; 

 Article 13, section 3; 

 Article 19, section 1;

 Article 21, section 5;

 Article 22, sections 3 and 4;

 Article 23, section 1;

 Article 24, section 10; and

 Article 36, section 2.

The judgment runs to some 30 pages of meticulous analysis and I hope you have the time to read it and absorb the number of examples of inappropriate conduct, to put it very politely, by the CHC.

Most notable I suggest is the information that the impugned 2016 convention was boycotted by the CHQ, the Hellenic-Canadian Congress of British Columbia, the Greek Community of New Brunswick, the Greek Community of Toronto, the Greek Community of Vancouver and the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal. Who is left?

The judge let the 2016 constitution stand as long as it complied with the 1999 constitution and because it would be problematic to declare it invalid. The judge very politely left it at that but did point out all the numerous irregularities associated with its passing. Invalidating it would have caused chaos and the continued legal existence of the CHC may have been questionable in view of the fact that the 2016 constitution was the one file under the Canada Not-For-Profit Corporations Act to prevent the CHC from being dissolved.

Let’s put all of that behind and try some reconciliation. The majority of Greeks boycotted the last convention and those organizations need to be brought back. Accusing them of malignancy, opportunism and irresponsibility is not the road to reconciliation.

Can we suggest the CHC open its doors and its arms to Greek organization(s?) across Canada and call a convention as soon as possible? We need to amend the constitution as ordered by the court and elect a board of directors that represents our smallest and biggest communities. We need to stop using language of hatred and discord. We are all volunteers.

Leo, I know and have worked with most of the people involved and have not exchanged a word in anger or disparagement. I have served in almost all major Hellenic organizations in Ontario.

Can we get the warring parties to lay their swords down and start working together?

On a lighter note, may I remind you that some Lacedemonians did not join my forebear Alexander in his conquest of much of the world? But we got over it. Maybe we can remind our friends that if a Spartan and a Macedonian can work together, cooperation and mutual understanding is not as hard as it sometimes looks.

Best personal regards.

The judge gave extensive reasons her finding and listed numerous contraventions of its own constitution and procedural rules. In the end she granted the HCQ’s application and gave details of the relief ordered.

The ball is in HCC’s court and it is up to them to take immediate corrective action. The first step is surely to disabuse themselves of victory and vindication. There was no such thing and paragraphs 156 and 157 are polite statements of their misconduct.