The role of the Ombuds and Appeals Committee (OAC) is to receive complaints from members of the Green Party of Canada regarding decisions made by organized Units or Functionaries of the Party that affect their rights as members, or concerns regarding Party governance (Green Party of Canada Bylaw 7.5.1.).
In accordance with Bylaw 7.2, the Ombuds and Appeals Committee may fill its vacancies between General Meetings of members.
OAC members should have an understanding of the principles of natural justice, and a strong interest in fairness. Experience in mediation or dispute resolution may be helpful. Membership on the OAC can be difficult. The work we do is important to the good functioning of the Party, but takes place well behind the scenes. There may be long periods of inactivity, then several complaints at once. Cases may be controversial, and the OAC has no ability to enforce its recommendations.
Members of the OAC may not occupy other official positions in, or be employed by, either Central Party Units or by the central units of a provincial or territorial Green Party. They also must not have close personal or business relationships with GPC functionaries or employees. Furthermore, OAC members are expected to abide by restrictions as to their public statements and involvements.
The OAC is supposed to have gender parity and regional balance. As part of the Party’s commitment to anti-discrimination and DEI, we are asking people from racialized and queer communities, young greens, francophones (we would currently be unable to handle any complaints submitted in French), and people living with disabilities to consider applying to join. We are also seeking people with prior experience in making organizations safe for diversity.
Desirable qualities include:
- Conflict resolution/mediation experience
- Legal training/understanding of natural justice
- Technical expertise (ability to use online communications and organizational tools)
- Commitment to support anti-discrimination work within the Party
- A sense of humor is required!
Restrictions and requirements:
- Must be able and willing to maintain strict confidentiality;
- Must understand the principles of natural justice;
- Must be able to look impartially at all sides of an issue, to be neutral regarding personalities, and exercise sound and fair judgment in their interpretation of the Constitution, Bylaws, and other Party governance regulations;
- Must be able to accept a variable workload: the OAC may go months with no cases, and then have multiple cases at once, and some cases are much harder than others; and
- Must be able to work as part of a team, by consensus.
How the Ombuds Committee works
A complaint starts when the complainant completes a Complaint Form and sends it to the Ombuds and Appeals Committee. Once the OAC receives the complaint, they need to determine if the complaint is one under their remit. If not, they let the complainant know they cannot take their complaint on, and why they cannot do so.
If the OAC can accept the complaint, they inform the complainant, and let them know that it can take some time to investigate as the OAC must make an effort to hear from everyone involved in the complaint. The OAC may also ask to see documents and other information relevant to the complaint, and may ask questions of anyone who is likely to have information the OAC needs in order to address the complaint appropriately.
Once all the information the OAC believes is important has been collected, the Ombuds Committee must sort through it, discuss it, and make decisions as to the responsibilities of the parties involved. A formal decision is then issued, listing the findings, the decision(s), and the consequent recommendations. It is important to note, however, that the OAC has no ability to enforce the implementation of its decisions; it is an advisory body.
It is also important to know that the OAC sometimes handles more than one case at a time and then may have long periods of inactivity. OAC members must be patient and willing to ask questions, look at matters from a variety of angles, and discuss respectfully with other OAC members in order to render solid decisions, as decisions are made by consensus. OAC members must be impartial in the matters before them and be willing to recuse themselves if they have or might be perceived to have a bias, or to have a real or perceived conflict of interest.
How the application process works
The Ombuds and Appeals Committee will be selected by members at the upcoming General Meeting. All applicants will fill out this application form, and will be reviewed to make sure they meet the requirements listed below.
- Be members of the Party in good standing.
- Not be members of or employed by any other unit of the Central Party. This includes:
- Federal Council or any committee of Federal Council
- Young Greens Council
- The Fund
- Shadow Cabinet
- Not be members of or employed by any central unit of any Provincial or Territorial Party.
- Not be closely related (immediate family) to any member of any other unit of the Central Party or central units of any provincial or territorial Party.
- Self-declare if they have any personal relationships (such as business relationships, close friendships or family connections) with members of any other official bodies of the GPC.
Applicants may be found ineligible for membership on the OAC (depending on the circumstances) if they:
- Are indebted to the Party.
- Have engaged in or are considering legal action against the Party.
- Have been convicted of criminal offenses or subjected to disciplinary actions by professional bodies, or are currently facing same.
- Have past conduct that would cause harm to the reputation of the Green Party of Canada if revealed.
- Have outside positions which would cause a conflict of interest.
- Have a history of initiating vexatious complaints with the OAC.