Condo director thrown overboard
“Politics have no relation to morals.”
—Niccolo Machiavelli

The setting
The condo is in Scarborough and has 284 residential units and 22 commercial units on the bottom floor. There are amenities that are shared with the next-door townhouse condominium corporation.

The condo is fourteen years old and is a nice building, well maintained. The property management company, a subsidiary of the builder, manages the two condos and the shared facilities. 

About 85% of the residents are Chinese-Canadians and Chinese citizens, of which 70% do not speak English. Most are seniors.

Our protagonist
Bill is a Chinese-Canadian who has spent many years and a lot of his own money working with well-respected international charities. This has taught him the importance of spending other peoples' money wisely and ethically.

In the spring of 2012, Bill decided that he would like to run for a position on his condo's board of directors and so he submitted his application to the board informing him of his interest.

Board's reaction
The president of the board, knocked on Bill's door to inform him that the board has long-serving members and his offer to help was not required.

Ignoring this suggestion that he was not welcome, when the notice arrived announcing the upcoming AGM, Bill submitted his name as a candidate and included a bilingual resume to be enclosed with the AGM package.

AGM package
When Bill received his AGM package, he saw that his resume was included but that it had been altered. The Chinese half of his letter, and another Chinese candidate's letter, had been cut off.

Bill complained to the property manager but was blown off. Only after he complained to the management company's district manager was a second package sent out to all the owners containing the two challengers' original resumes.

Prior to the meeting, the superintendent collects the proxies from the Chinese residents and tells them that if they do not know how to fill in the form, that is okay, just sign your names and we will fill in the rest of the rest for you.

So thoughtful; so helpful.

There are two new candidates running for the board; Bill and a man we will call Paul. The ballots have been collected and the scrutineers start counting. Bill is ahead of the incumbent by two votes.

It is now time to refer to the condo's bylaws, Method of Voting (vi) (e):
"When all the ballots have been deposited into the ballot box the scrutineers shall then tabulate the votes for and against the matter being voted upon. In the event the vote is not decided by the ballots cast, the Board shall collect any outstanding ballots until the vote is conclusive either in favour of or against."

Isn't that something? Unbelievable. I never saw that in any legitimate meeting rules that I have ever come across.

So, Bill won by two votes. When she hears the results, the property manager says: I made a mistake. I have a few votes in my pocket. She adds two ballots to the count.

Now it is a tie. The district manager counts the votes. Then counts them a second time. Then he says: "One more time." The ballots are counted twelve times. The count does not change.

Bill asks the district manager to ask the corporation lawyer for a ruling on these two added ballots. The lawyer confirmed that the two ballots, that came out of the property manager's pocket, are invalid.

Bill won a seat on the board.

Unwelcome suggestion
As I wrote above, Bill has experience working with non-profit corporations so when he joined the board he asked to see the condo's list of assets. There wasn't one. The two new members demanded that the manager and the supervisor start complying one. They refused.

Unseating the president
The two new board members, along with a third member who secretly talked with them, voted to replace the president with Paul and the other member became the treasurer. Bill was sure that this would be an improvement.

A couple old feuds
A woman, who lived in a unit above Paul, played the piano and Paul complained to the manager that the piano music was interfering with his quiet enjoyment of his unit. The manager ignored him. Then the manager suggested that the board hire an engineer to take noise readings. If the noise was within the building code guidelines, Paul will pay the cost of the test. If the noise level exceeded the building code guidelines, then the woman would pay. Paul did not like this.

Apparently, the superintendent, who worked for the condo for the last ten years, had a dispute with Paul when they both were together in another building.

Once he became president, Paul had the management company transfer the manager to a different building and had the superintendent terminated.

The new property manager
The district manager assigned an interim manager to the building. She was new to the industry and was taking courses to obtain her RCM certification. Her employer was paying 50% of her tuition fees.

Paul told her of his problem with the noise from the woman's piano. The new manager sends the owner a threatening letter. Then, the manager had the ceramic tile on the woman's condo floor replaced.

Paul was pleased. He decided that the new interim manager would become the condo's replacement manager. Additionally, he proposed that the condo pay the manager the other 50% of her tuition.

Bill objected. He took the position that she was the management company's employee and that the condo should not be picking up this expense. His arguments were ignored.

The new superintendent
In September 2012, a new superintendent was hired and he moved into the superintendent suite. He does not speak Chinese but he works well and the residents like him.

He has two children but has no car so he finds that shopping and running family errands is very inconvenient at this building.

He worked for the same property management company in another building so he asks another district manager if he knows of any openings as he is planning to quit due to his transportation problems.

That district manager tells our condo's district manager that the superintendent is looking for another position. Our district manager tells the board to fire the superintendent.

Bill is opposed. It is the end of November and Christmas will be here soon. Bill and two other directors vote against the motion to fire the new superintendent.

The next morning, the district manager talked the old president into changing his vote. Then the president calls an emergency board meeting. A second motion to fire the superintendent is tabled.

Bill asks the old president why he changed his position. The district manager accused Bill of interrogating the old president and stopped the discussion. The district manager was belligerent. In early December, a motion to fire their superintendent is passed.

The superintendent gets a pink slip as his Christmas gift.

Complaint to the management company
The only woman director complained to the property company's president about the district manager's behaviour. Bill also sends a letter of complaint to the property management company.

Bill informs the company's vice-president about their district manager's unacceptable behaviour at the 03 December meeting and states that it reflects poorly on the company.

The hallways and the exterior doors were starting to look scruffy due to building getting older and the number of renters moving in and out.

The board decides to paint the unit's hallway doors. The past-president decided that they need a sample so his door will be done first.

Before he was elected to the board, Bill wondered why one of the ground floor guest suite doors wasn't done as a sample as then all the owners will be better able to see it. Once he read the old board minutes, he understood what had happened.

The past-president's door was painted and the project was then forgotten.

Paul changes
Once he got on the board and he saw the power that the position offers, Paul's attitude changed. The property manager flatters him and they work well together.

Gym equipment
The president suggests that the board replace a machine in the fitness room with a new one and that the old one be given away. Bill suggests that the old machine, a corporation's asset, be sold at an auction. Bill's suggestion was approved by the board. There was no auction, the machine was given away.

The president wanted to buy heavy weights for the fitness room. Bill objected, as it will get little use in a building full of seniors.

The property manager says that the board does not have to vote on this as she is authorized to spend up to $1000 without the board's approval so she said she bought the weights.

Fire alarm announcements
For years, the fire alarm testing announcements were made in English and then in Chinese. Then this was stopped and the announcements were made only in English.

Bill objected, as a majority of the residents do not understand English. Paul called the condo lawyer to get a legal opinion.

The lawyer responds that English and French are the two official languages and that if an error was made in the Chinese language, the corporation could be held responsible in case of death, injury or property damage.

The corporation could say, in Chinese, as part of the message, that the people should follow the instructions the English message, as that is the official message and the Chinese version includes a disclaimer stating that corporation is not liable for any errors in the Chinese translation.

The condo stopped the Chinese language messages.

The coup monté

The board was no longer working in harmony, with the management company and the president making all the decisions and the other four directors smiling like sunflowers bending towards their leaders' wishes.

Bill had to go.

In April 2013, Bill and his wife left on a month-long vacation. His absence gave his opponents the opportunity to strike. When Bill returned, there were two registered letters waiting for him, one dated 22 April 2013 and the other 01 May 2013.

The identical three-page letters claimed that Bill was a hostile and accusatory director who instilled fear into the other directors and prevented them from the quiet enjoyment of the common areas.

The letter stated that the board received legal advice on how to deal with
Bill and that he was responsible to pay the corporation's legal costs. If he
failed to pay these costs, they would put a lien on his unit and proceed to a Power of Sale.

However, there was an offer. If Bill resigned prior to 15 May 2013, and agreed not to run for the board until 2018, the corporation would absorb the legal fees.

Bill responded
On 14 May 2013, Bill sent a letter to the board denying their accusations and asking that they hold an owners meeting as per the Act, so the owners can vote on whether Bill should stay on the board or not.

Bill stated that residents who witnessed many of the listed incidents were willing to testify that those accusations were false.

He also started petitioning the owners to request the board to hold an owners meeting so they could vote on whether or not he should be removed from
the board.

He did not receive an answer.

Bill resigned
On 15 May 2013, Bill received an invoice from the property manager for the payment of $2,476.96; the cost of the board's legal advice. Bill sent the board his resignation.

Bill felt that he had to resign. He did not know condominium law and was not sure how much time and money would be needed to defend himself. He could have fought the lien in court but it would have involved a commitment of time and money that he was not sure he wanted to spend on an uncertain outcome.

Unknown to Bill, once a resignation to a non-profit organization has been submitted, it cannot be taken back. (That is why minority directors must be very careful in board meetings. One rash e-mail stating: "I quit" may make the decision un-reversible.

The board strikes back
On 06 June 2013, the board posted a detailed notice on each floor justifying their actions and denouncing Bill (but not by name). The notice ended by stating: :
"That Board member has demonstrated chronic dishonesty while previously serving on the board. Any resident who feels misled by the former Board member's rumors is welcomed to report the matter to the Management Office."

Some owners were extremely upset by the inflammatory notice. Within a day, the notices were removed.

Bill is bitter at being libelled within his condominium community by this notice. He was just a volunteer trying to help his community. He was not out for anything for himself and he had no idea just how nasty condo politics could become.

The residents' doors are getting painted.

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