Open letter to Canadian Tamil Congress – Saying CTC a lobbying organization is unconstitutional
Posted on December 31st, 2010

Vel Velauthapillai

Dear CTC board of directors, CTC officials,

It is very sad to see that CTC board unconstitutionally prevents members from raising transparency related concerns to our member of parliament. The reason I wrote this open letter to highlight the issues to other members and community. There is a need for any Tamil organization that try to represent Tamil Canadians to correct their mistakes and provide answers to their members responsibly. Fortunately, there are couple of good Tamil Canadian organizations emerging, so the expectation will become high for good organization practices.

In this open letter,I try to point out some specific issues in the CTC letter that I received from CTC (scanned copy is attached in this email), and hoping that the organization should avoid those mistakes in future. There is no point in talking about image building while providing excuses for not addressing issues or shy away from answering questions. Secrecy will do more damage to the community, and if it is too secret lobbying organization, there is a potential danger that some day Indian or Sri Lankan intelligence may hire CTC for their own interest if this arrogant approach continues.

First of all, by claiming CTC as lobbying organization, I think the CTC board not only loosing their credibility, but also act unconstitutionally. Please provide copy of the current constitution to all the members. Even better, if you post that in the web site because it is not a secret document for public organizations. Otherwise, simply add a clause saying that if members ask questions or transparency, their membership will be suspended. I think that will make the process for suspending membership more easy.

I have also placed this letter in my public blog http://canadiantamilvoice.blogspot.com/, also cc. to Canadian member of parliament, and bcc. to media and friends. I also understand that one of my article (http://www.sangam.org/2010/03/Transparency_Organizations.php?uid=3892) about importance of transparency for Tamil Diaspora organizations angers some CTC officials who only believe secrecy because of their incompetence and control freak nature. These long serving officials take advantage of board and people who hesitate to raise issues to run their own agendas.

It is bit of shame that the CTC board of directors even didn’t read its constitution when they says “CTC is lobbying organization”. I searched around the constitution, but nowhere it says lobbying or maintaining secrecy. Members, please get a latest copy of the CTC constitution and read it. The constitution says CTC as congress of our people, for our people and by our people. I think if required, CTC can hire or work with an advocacy group, but CTC is NOT a lobbying organization according to constitution.

If it is simply a lobbying organization, and doesn’t have any membership base, how can it claim that it represent Tamil Canadians? Then, claiming CTC speaks for Tamil Canadian become lie. Right? Also, the organization doesn’t need to build its image by holding fund raising for Canadian charities or blood donations. All it need is some links to politicians and someone who can pay the expenses. No? The obvious thing that is happening is that few control freaks want to run something behind the scenes and want to mute questions.

Here are list of problems with this letter alone.

Problem 1: Does CTC a secrete lobbying organization and if it is the case, did CTC get mandate from its members?

CTC in this letter says it is a lobbying organization while the constitution doesn’t have any word mentioning lobbying politicians. Not sure where CTC get mandate from its members for lobbying and lobbying for what?

Problem 2: Why avoid sending membership suspension letter to correct address, why not inform via email?

CTC sent me the membership suspension letter to my neighbor’s address. My home number is 127, but CTC sent that letter to 125. CTC didn’t even send any email to my email account. In the past, I received all the letters including Pongal invitation and CTC membership renewal requests to my correct home address. So, I think sending the membership suspension letter to wrong address is intentional, but I don’t understand why CTC take this type of crook approach or may be it is part of the lobbying practice.

Problem 3: How writing to politician violate article 3.4.1. Is there any reason not stating the article 3.4.1 in the letter?

CTC board claims that it suspends membership because I wrote to emails regarding CTC lack of transparency to politicians. In fact, I wrote several times to CTC board, but the board didn’t response for long period of time, so decided to request a member of parliament to encourage this organization to follow good organization practices. In addition, so far, I have ONLY wrote one such email to a member of parliament and cc. that email to CTC as well. Even in that email, I requested to encourage transparency and democracy because some of the officials in CTC has very bad view about transparency.

Board is quoting an article 3.4.1 which says “The Board of Directors shall have the right to terminate the membership of any member who does not adhere to the laws of Canada or acts in a manner contrary to the aims and objectives of the CTC”..

I don’t know how writing to a Canadian politicians violate Canadian law. Also, don’t know how requesting a politicians to encourage transparency can be violation of CTC objective”. There is no basis to suspend the membership for writing to politicians. So, CTC should better find another reason to suspend the membership assuming that it want to get rid of a member because he is asking questions.. I would suggest, you can charge some fee for answer a question. In this way, you can reduce the number of questions. Please consider in future.

In worse, in the letter CTC says it is lobbying organization. Honestly, I don’t understand what lobbying means in this case. So try to find out the meaning in dictionary and it says lobbyist means “someone who is employed to persuade legislators to vote for legislation that favors the lobbyist’s employer”.. Sounds like some behind the scene stuff.. OK. Who paid CTC to lobby? CTC lobbying for what and whom? Actually, more questions than answers. Not sure someone from CTC can clarify these things.

Problem 4: When did CTC stop paying for its staff?

I learned that CTC has some paid employees according to the last year financial reports. In the letter, CTC mentioned that all in CTC work as volunteers. There is a clear discrepancy. Is it the accounts telling the truth or the letter telling the truth? In addition, please send me 2009 financial report if you have a copy.

Problem 5: How long it takes for CTC board to take actions against its unprofessional CTC head office?

It says there was a unprofessional ( not sure why less professional is used here) response from CTC head office, and CTC board is still dealing with this.. Well, should I understand how long it deal with this issue? It takes only couple of weeks for suspending membership for writing politicians. Board is still dealing with CTC head office unprofessional response more than 8 months.. Looks like an unprofessional staff at CTC head office is OK, but a whistle-blower member is a serious problem eh!

There is some good parts in the letter too. It sounds like CTC board also agree my suggestions that CTC should be fully transparent and accountable organization, but it has some implementation problem. Thanks for that.

2009 was a disaster year for Tamil Diaspora and the Tamil organizations. Even in 2009, CTC Ottawa chapter held two public meetings for community and one public meeting with law enforcement. In Toronto, there was one public meeting to answer people questions. What about 2010? No public meetings at all. Is that moving forward or backward?

Is it very difficult to at least acknowledge the questions you receive?ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  In your own estimates, how long it takes to fix? years or never possible.

Finally, all I request you is that give me a 10 minutes time in the next AGM (if you plan to hold one), and I can explain it directly to members. So that, the members can make a decision to keep CTC as people organization Or change it to lobby firm.

I hope this letter will shed some lights on organization good practices and hope the members of CTC who receive this email will ask questions in future. I also hope, our Canadian politicians have some responsibility and should hold public town hall meetings with the community with the organizations that they work with. Politicians should not entertain only close door meetings because it sends a wrong signal to a community.

Regards,

Vel Velauthapillai

CTC member since 2008, sustaining member in 2009. Membership suspended in November 2010 for asking following questions and request a member of parliament to promote transparency in CTC.
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