The Millenium Issue

A Proposal by Scouts Canada

To all those interested in the continuing saga of the Millennium Project.
A Scouter has posted this commentary on the Internet.
Also, if you wish, the complete text of the Proposal is available here, copied from an Anonymous Website, for your reading pleasure.

I have just returned from the "meeting" in Toronto regarding this "project".

There was a lot of confusion and plain bad communications apparent in the process to date, since all regions participating in the meeting did not know the reason for them being there.

If what we were told today is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, all the information thus far provided has not been accurate. The reason that it has not been accurate is because Scouts Canada chose not to publicize the facts, leaving everyone in a vacuum acting and re-acting to half truths.

I will try to give an unbiased, factual account of what I remember. If I have anything wrong or misinterpreted, I will plead insanity following all the confusion.

  1. The "Draft" copy of the Millennium Project" in circulation today is not a "draft" as I would interpret it. A draft to me indicates an almost "finished" document just awaiting "final approval". We were told today the Millennium Project is what I would call a working document, that is, the Task Force's ideas for change, written for the National Council Management Board, for the purpose of getting general agreement to pursue their ideas. It is not and was not, a "final" document.
  2. The "Meeting" today in Toronto was set up as part of a Provincial Executive Board Meeting. It was intended only for persons associated with District/Region management. It was not a general SC meeting. The Millennium Project portion of the PEB Meeting comprised two halves. Four of Ontario's Regions were invited to the morning session and the others to a second meeting in the afternoon. At the morning session were Greater Toronto Region, Central Escarpment Region (west of Toronto) Shining Waters Region (north of Toronto) and Battlefields Region (Hamilton-Niagara area)
  3. The Meetings were announced by memo dated in December 1998. (14th if memory serves correct).
  4. The purpose of the meeting was "misunderstood" by all of the "morning" regions. All four regions came to the meeting unprepared for the "real" purpose.
  5. The real purpose of the meeting was not to be told about the proposal, or to ask questions of the authors, but to give input to the Task Force. That is there were more questions than answers. The Millennium Project was a "starting" point, intended for the purpose of initiating discussion and feedback. Each region had been asked in the letter announcing the meeting to come to it prepared to make a presentation to the Task Force concerning "change" and to come with comments both favourable and unfavourable to those ideas listed in the project.
  6. The time for "submission" of comments to the Task Force expired on January 21, 1999. Next weekend, the Task Force will seclude itself and draft a proposal, endeavouring to utilize those comments and input received. The proposal, once drafted, is to be given to the National Council by the end of February for their approval at the May 1999 meeting.
  7. Therefore at the time of this report there is "no" proposal on which to comment, just "ideas".

Once the meeting got underway and the misunderstandings noted, it was stopped to allow the four attending regions time to prepare a "presentation" for the Task Force. Larry Fox (National) was asked to give a short address outlining the background behind the project and the reasoning for the meeting. Everyone in the room was surprised at what they were told. It was therefore apparent that the meeting was not to give rationale for the proposal, or to answer questions about it, simply to get input on the ideas contained therein and to provide other ideas.


There were no negative comments about the creation of a "group commissioner". Many expressed opinions that this move should assist group "servicing", producing more effective groups and better communications.

There was only one somewhat negative comment about the dissolution of the Provincial Councils and the creation of "Divisional" Councils. (The Project suggested six be created to cover Canada, each with approximately 40,000 registrants). The comment made on the basis of the need to recognize the geographic and cultural differences if the country. Many felt the "divisional" approach would achieve this.

There was much discussion and many negative comments concerning the dissolution of "District" Councils including the loss of "community feeling", loss of history, loss of local autonomy. The re-distribution of council assets was also mentioned as being cause for concern. There were some comments that perhaps some District names could be retained to represent local areas, while having no official organization standing.

There was many comments that Scouts Canada should be more uniform across the country and that this project should achieve more uniformity.

There was general acceptance for the need to make both paid staff and volunteer staff more "accountable" and the general thought was the "project" would assist this. There was caution expressed that "pressing" accountability to far with volunteers could result in them "leaving".

There was a lot of concern expressed about the "costs" of implementing changes from volunteer administrative work to paid staff doing this function. Arguments were forthcoming from those in favour of the ideas in the project (mainly paid staff), that the cost savings of centralising administration, would offset cost for increased staffing levels. Many doubted this concept, expressing severe concern that it would lead to increased operating costs and therefore increased registration fees. Some indicated that if the idea were proceeded with, that any increased costs MUST be recovered from corporate donations or fundraising.

There was almost considerable vocal agreement from the floor that increasing registration fees was NOT an option.

There was one proposal that instead of creating "divisions" and "areas" based on scouting membership numbers, that these units be based on general population numbers, reducing the need for boundary adjustments when one unit "outgrew" its numbers etc... There was also the comment that by doing it this way a unit not achieving its targeted registrations would immediately show up by lower numbers. The reverse being true that a unit exceeding their registration target would also show up quite readily.

There was a fair bit of criticism of the "language" used in the project, that it was not written to be easily understood. (Remember the stated destination of the project was National Management Board, not for general release.)

There were comments that when the "project" had been distributed to the regions, it had been with the comment that the document was NOT for general distribution. This was given as the reason that so many of us did not see it. There was no explanation given as to why it was NOT for general distribution.

There was much discussion that there would be the need for an "acceptable" method to be devised for the appointment/selection of "commissioners".

There was the comment that Ontario was "weary" of change following the upheavals of the recent re-organization and that we (Ontario) would appreciate a "quiet" period to continue adjusting to the previous changes before embarking on more changes. It was suggested that if changes were to occur that the changes should be implemented, level by level, starting at National and working toward the group, thereby giving Ontario its requested break because it would take time before the changes would hit the regional level. One scouter presented the reverse argument that the changes should occur from the group to national.

There was an admission from the Task Force that many changes going on and being worked on, come about through the needs of risk management and the need for insurance, on the basis that no insurance - no movement.

There were strong comments made to the Task Force that the "attitude" implied in the project toward volunteers, i.e. "if they don't comply they can go elsewhere" is NOT an appropriate way to talk to volunteers.

There was comment made that instead of "re-organizing" the country, that we should try it out in some test areas first and change only if the experiments were judged to be a success. This was answered to the effect that there have been three test areas running for the past four months. They were announced as Halifax, Voyageur Region (Eastern Ontario - Ottawa) and Fraser Valley (BC I think). No results/comments from the test areas were announced.

There were comments that the job descriptions for the "group" and "area" commissioners need to be developed.

There were some comments made of a need to try to standardize registration fees across the country.

The Task Force ended the session saying that they had made nine pages of notes..........

Under the circumstances, I am not sure that the "project" should ever have been placed on the internet as written, but I am convinced that a "summary" of the ideas in the project should have been, with e-mail addresses to send comments to. The final draft, however, I believe should be posted as soon as possible and definitely well prior to the May National Council meeting. I hope that Scouts Canada has learned, that in the internet age, there is a need to provide information, voluntarily, speedily, and available to everyone. If they don't do this, someone else will provide their "version" of the information and the result is uncontrollable misinformation and damage to the movement's credibility.

Yours in Scouting

"In all of this, it is the spirit that really matters. Our Scout Law and Promise, when we really put them into practice, take away all occasion for wars and strife between nations"

Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell