The MIA bi-annual elections where held on December 06, 2009 at the Grand mosque gym on Waverly. This election was unusual in many ways. The registered membership was at a record high of 750. The attendance at the meeting was around 500 (66%). The meeting begun after Zuhr prayer. Unlike previous AGM agendas, the 1st item on the agenda, besides approval of the agenda and nomination of the steering committee, was the election. Few contencious issues delayed the actual the process and actual voting didn’t start until around 6:00 pm and the results were finalized around 9:30 pm. This delay in voting resulted in the departure of about 100 members (20%) of membership in attendance. The number of members who casted their vote was around 400 (53%) of the total membership. There were 3 presidential candidates, two with distinct teams. Unlike previous elections the 3 candidates and their teams have been active in distributing flyers, arranging dinners and one particular team had a website. This was a starking contrast to 1995 AGM, when no one was willing to accept nomination for the position of MIA president; a situation that prompted Br. Imamuddin Khan to stand and rebuke the AGM for failing to come forward and volunteer to be President! The three presidents had a chance to address the AGM, however, with no chance of asking them questions.
Prior to elections, there was evident tension and rumors. During the meeting two police officers were present to avert any potential conflict. The formation of the Steering Committee was also the subject of much contention. Historically, the MIA executives nominated three members to the Steering Committee and sought the approval of AGM. In this case the SC was formed ahead of time with the hope it will be approved by AGM. After much wrangling and back and forth arguments an SC made up of 3 representatives of each team, plus one neutral chairman was formed.
The race between the three teams was close. Below is a table showing the list of candidates and the numbers of votes they received.
|Nasser Warriach||160||38%||Akram Rana||150||36%|
|Mohamed Shahin||137||33%||Mohamed Tareq||138||33%|
|Abdulaziz Mian||124||29%||Idris Elbakri||125||30%|
|Kadim Al-Roubaie||143||35%||Sarfraz Chishti||189||57%|
|Shahin Matabar||140||34%||Jameel Khan||142||43%|
|Shariq Kidwai||143||35%||Taib Soufi||138||36%|
|Misbah Houhou||142||35%||Ali Khan||132||34%|
|Reda El-Jazzar||120||30%||Sabiha Haseeb||113||30%|
|Trustee 1||Trustee 2|
|Br. Firoz Khondkar||174||51%||Anis Khan||170||56%|
|Faris Khalil||168||49%||Salman Qureshi||134||44%|
The election process is clearly outdated and not suitable for an organization as large as MIA. The whole process is cumbersome, inefficient, prone to conflict and mismanagement. It lacks checks and balances and is very manual intensive. Further, candidates are not well known to the many members of the AGM. Many members vote on the basis of friendship, acquaintences, recommendations and affiliations; not on basis of merit and knowledge of past track record. The consequences of such a reality was evident in this election, particularly in the case of the candidates for the position of treasurer. There were two candidates for the position. One of the candidates, Br. Jameel Khan, was a highly qualified Accountant. He holds a professional Accountant designation –CMA- and has a long experience working with the provincial government for many years. He has extensive knowledge in taxation, auditing and financial reporting. Further, he was very instrumental in helping the community acquire the 12 acre land on Waverly, on which the new centre was erected. He was a perfect fit for the position. However, many of the members probably didn’t have any of this information available to them when they made their choice. Further, the only two sisters running for the position of executive member, both lost and no sister was elected to the executive. More over, the only two Canadian born and bred candidates as well as the only two West Indies on the slate of candidates lost the election. The presence of these individuals on the executive could have given stronger voice for women, youth and the broader community.
The requirements of membership need to be enhanced. Block membership and voting has been leading to very skewed outcomes. The requirement for membership needs to be enhanced further. Given the magnitude of the tasks assigned to MIA executives, there needs to be more requirements for qualification. Further, an independent umbudsman is essential. There were many accusations, concerns, issues raised with no avenue to address them. Such a body becomes critical to ensure elections are conducted fairly, ethically, equitably and all concerns are duly addressed.
The outcome of the election was a mix of the candidates of two of the three teams. No member of the third team was elected. This election has left scars that will take time to heal. It is of paramount importance to review the existing process to ensure that all the loopholes are covered and an inclusive, fair, less divisive and highly efficient process established.
Resignation of five members of MIA Executive:
The newly elected executives survived only for two month. On February 7, 2010 five of the seven announced their resignation and dissolution of the executive council, handing the affairs to Trustees and calling for new election before end of February. The resignation came after weeks of back and forth wrangling within the executive, where the President and the 1st Vice President were on one side and the remaining executives on another side. Among many of the issues the Imam issue appeared to be most the most contenscious. Following weeks of meetings the 5 members of the executive issued a statement terminating the Imam, which was dismissed as illegal by the President. This led to tensions leading to having a Jumma prayer at Waverly in the presence of police for the first time in the history of the community. The dismissal of the Imam generated wide spread reaction within the community as well as hietned tension leading to the resignation of the 5 executive members. As a consequence the attempt to remove the Imam failed and the Imam still remains in charge.