Reporter excluded from Quest AGM

This year, the Yukon Quest board barred the public from its annual general meeting, holding a private, members-only affair. Citing Article 3, Section A of its constitution, the organization, which receives more than $300,000 a year...

This year, the Yukon Quest board barred the public from its annual general meeting, holding a private, members-only affair.

Citing Article 3, Section A of its constitution, the organization, which receives more than $300,000 a year from several government sources, barred the Yukon News entry to its May 19 meeting.

Admission would cost $42, the price of a membership, said officials. The paper refused.

“The annual general meeting means that period of time when the (Yukon Quest International Association) membership meets once a year for the purpose of holding elections of directors and other business,” said Georgina Leslie, who resigned last week just prior to the meeting, to spend time with her family. She’s agreed to serve until a replacement is hired.

The problem is that the demanded fee apparently violated the Quest’s constitution.

“All meetings of the membership shall be open to the public and no person shall be excluded, except for improper conduct,” it states.

However, the admission fee did not violate the constitution, said Leslie in an interview on Wednesday.

Quest officials are allowed to impose such restrictions because any “member of the public” can buy a membership, she said.

“It’s when the ‘YQIA membership meets,’ so you have to be a part of the membership,” said Leslie.

“When you are talking about meeting of the membership, that’s all under Article 3 – Section A, B, C, D – it’s all referring to meetings of the membership, and members are those who have paid the member fee and are in good standing.

“Nonmembers, if they want to come to the meeting they generally pay for a membership – not generally, they always have.”

The organization recently announced it was searching for new directors, and encouraged people to come. There was no mention it was members-only affair.

At issue here is the fact the Yukon Quest is a non-profit organization that each year receives oodles of government grants to stage its international 1,600-kilometre race, which is run primarily by Alaskans.

The Quest received $150,000 from the Yukon government from a “contribution agreement,” in 2009 and 2010, receiving an additional $117,966 for the purse and other expenses in 2009.

Last year, it also received $133,320 from the government of Canada, $15,000 from Lotteries Yukon and $6,000 from Whitehorse.

The $133,320 from Ottawa is roughly half a lump sum of $262,320 given by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency shortly before the 2010 race, intended to cover expenses in the 2010 and 2011 races.

After barring media from this annual general meeting, it is not clear what financial or race decisions directors made.

But it issued a release announcing four new board members.

Bev Regier, Pamela Brown, Reinhard Semmel and Tamra Reynolds will serve on the board. Back for another term are Donna Clayson and Clarke Laprairie.

According to the Societies Act, if a non-profit organization breaches its constitution, and a written complaint is lodged, an investigation can be conducted by the Yukon’s corporate affairs branch.

The Yukon News intends to file a complaint.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com