Some of my friends have known me long enough to know that once in a while I can take a very strong stand against something I consider to be wrong. Sometimes I even appear to go a little over-board with regards to the vigor and passion I put into what I have often called a “Johnny Crusade”. Currently I am engaged in two “Johnny Crusades” but I am only able to discuss one of them here – at least for now – the issues with Dynamic Property Management and the Marina Estates Strata Council. In order for this post to make much sense, I feel it is important to list some previous “Johnny Crusades” and their outcomes. I list these here for no other reason than to add clarity and background to my current efforts to raise awareness of some of the irresponsible, unprofessional and negligent actions of Dynamic Property Management and the current Marina Estates Strata Council.
“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.” (John Lewis)
Since I tend to go on sometimes, I thought I would consider the possibility that someone else might read this post (other than me) and so I would put the summary right at the start. The list of “Johnny Crusades” is certainly useful, IMHO, in order to get an idea as to why I have chosen to pursue Dynamic Property Management and our Strata Council. Some of the strata owner groups I have contacted have also indicted that I am wasting my time, nothing will change, there is no “teeth” in either the SPA or PIPA to force either than property management company, or the strata council, to comply unless you take them to court. If this is the case – that I am on this “Ethical/Moral Crusade” and there is little chance that I will succeed, and nothing will change – it certainly begs the question “what’s the point?” This question assumes that the only motivation for acting or speaking out against something you know to be wrong, is the likelihood of succeeding and effecting positive change. But I disagree completely. We should ALWAYS speak out, or ACT against something we KNOW TO BE WRONG regardless of the personal cost to ourselves, the likelihood of success or actually changing things for the better. After all, what’s the point of having a conscience if we don’t listen to it? Now I certainly can’t speak for anyone other than myself when I say that we should ALWAYS speak out against something we know to be wrong– listen to our conscience. But here are the exact reasons I gave to a strata owner advocacy group when I was asked why I would bother, if there is little or no chance of changing anything.
I am a deeply principled man (some say self-righteous) and have often stepped up to the plate in order to take a stand against something, or right some sort of wrong, either against myself or, in many cases a wrong perpetrated against others, especially those that may not, or cannot, help themselves or are being taken advantage of. In this case (Dynamic/Marina), myself, all owners, our insurance policies, privacy, safety, well-being, reputation in the community and of course costs for repairs are all being effected by the negligence of both the strata council and Dynamic Property Management. It took me nearly 5 years of extraordinary time, effort, money and frustration just to get to where we are now regarding having our building envelope replaced after no less than 3 engineering reports costing tens of thousands of dollars each. So my tolerance, my ability to accept these ongoing self-defeating, inexcusable and negligent actions of the strata and Dynamic Property Management, has ended and I am compelled to act. Yes, COMPELLED.
In other words since I am aware of these negligent actions which are causing harm to myself and others, and I know there are numerous laws, acts, regulations, conduct-codes which are being violated (repeatedly), and I am aware of various agencies which can be informed, and processes which can be followed to (potentially) improve matters, it is not possible for me to NOT act. It is my own conscience that compels me to act. Although it would be nice if my efforts produce tangible results in the form of public scrutiny, reprimands from related agencies or licensing bodies, or maybe a court order forcing everyone to comply with all Acts and regulations. However, these tangible outcomes are not necessary, or required for me to act or to speak out against something I know to be wrong. Nor are they necessary for me to feel that I have accomplished something in the end. All that is required is for me to ACT against something I consider to be wrong, regardless of whether or not I actually change things for the better. It would be naive of me to think that every time I try to improve things, I succeed. In my opinion, what is important (to me) is to make the effort to TRY and change things, not necessarily to succeed in changing or improving things. A single quote sums up my motivation for pursuing these issues with Dynamic Property Management and the Marina Estates Strata Council.
Moral Crusade 1
“To know what is right and not do it, is the worst cowardice“
While working as a Senior Analyst for a large Vancouver Marketing Firm in the early 90’s, I carried out all my my research and analysis duties with the same statistically valid, reliable and ethical guidelines as I had done for all of my academic/scientific research and statistical projects. The end results were of no importance to me, as they are not for any competent and ethical researcher. What is of paramount importance is that the research design, the representativeness of the sample and the statistical rigor applied ensures that MAXIMUM reliability and validity (accuracy) of the results are obtained. In other words ensuring that the results, one way or the other, are valid, reliable and able to withstand independent statistical scrutiny. After completing a particular project, for a very well known and recognized client valued at nearly 1 million dollars, I was called in to a meeting with the company president of the western Canada branch. Let’s just say that the end results of the study were not quite what the client had hoped for. I was basically asked to see if there was “anything I could do” regarding these results. It was repeated more than once and in slightly different ways in spite of indicating this was not something I could do and was an affront and insult to my own personal integrity and the integrity of my research and statistical field. I had only been there around 6 months and it was one of the highest paying salaries, and highest profile jobs I ever had. This job was also my only source of income. But what was being requested of me was offensive, insulting and so far outside of what I was capable of doing I simply said “sorry, what you are asking me to do is wrong and unethical and I cant work for a company that would ask this of me”. I walked out, cleared my desk and went home. Although the main office company president flew to BC to meet with me and offer me the position of the guy who asked me to “do something” about the results, I was already too offended and declined. I focused on, and returned to, youth care for the next 10 years or so along with my computer company and graduate work at UNBC.
End Result: The president of the western branch was fired.
Moral Crusade 2
Even the most rational approach to ethics is defenseless if there isn’t the will to do what is right”
Around 1992 I was running my computer company, doing some statistical consulting work and had my son and 3 high-risk young offenders in my care. One of the young boys had started acting strange following visits with his doctor. Since I was in the “business” of working with sexually abused and sexually offending youth, I was pretty familiar with the cluster of symptoms that often accompany both categories of abuse and a few “red-flags” had gone off. So I met with the doctor to get his opinion. His reaction to my concerns, his body-language and his overall demeanor only added to my suspicion, although the boy had been unable to disclose anything concrete – yet. Shortly after I had met with the doctor there was media coverage of this same doctor being investigated for suspicion of sexual misconduct with patients. I immediately filed a full report with the College of Physicians and Surgeons and around 1 year later, and a few interviews with the child by the RCMP, and my own statement, the doctor was relieved of his medical license and I believe he was formally charged with offenses against a different boy. Although there were accusations of “inappropriate conduct” against the boy in my care, I don’t believe, or recall, if any of the Dr’s formal charges of abuse were based on the statements taken from the boy in my care. I was not privy to all the information and the boy was moved to a different facility before the trial.
End Result: Family doctor charged with sexual misconduct and lost his license to practice medicine.
Moral Crusade 3
“The human voice can never reach the distance that is covered by the still small voice of conscience.” (Ghandi)
While caring for sexually abused, and sexually abusive adolescents in the early 90’s, I was made aware of a potential risk to other children regarding one child in my care. I reported these “indicators” and evidence of the likelihood of increased risk, to the child’s school and counselors before allowing the child to go to class. All the people informed of this potential increase in risk were already part of the child’s “team” and were fully aware of the child’s history, risk and numerous special precautions in place. However, part of my contract with the ministry involved strict rules regarding confidentiality and ALWAYS engaging the Ministry FIRST, no exception. Some of the boys in my care were very high-profile kids with “politically sensitive” histories. However, in this case I had no access to the Ministry, and put the safety of the children FIRST by informing the school and counselors, and my obligation to the Ministry contract SECOND. I acted out of a concern for the children in my care, and the children at the school. However, the Ministry did not see it that way and shut me down. I had my son and 3 boys in my care at the time. This was a personally and emotionally devastating event, for me and the boys in my care who were all very close to me. By shutting me down there was also the implication that I had done something wrong. This did not sit well with me since I knew I acted from my conscience and with a genuine concern for the safety of the boys in my care and the other children in the school. So, after around a year of frustration, reports, legal filings, the help of an influential ethicist, and the Civil Liberties Association, the Ministry reversed its decision to shut me down.
End Result: Ministry for Children and Families reversed its decision to shut down my youth-care services.
Moral Crusade 4
“To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice. ” (Confucius)
Following the year-long battle with the Ministry for Children and Families, I was psychologically and emotionally exhausted. Although I was successful in getting them to reverse their earlier decision, I was discouraged with the lower mainland and needed a change of scenery. So I found a place to rent on a lake in Prince George and with one months rent paid and only $1000.00 left in the bank, and no job prospects, I packed up my stuff and moved to Prince George. Shortly after getting settled in I started the job-search process. I never had trouble finding work back then and had complete confidence that I would be working before the month was out. One of the places I approached was a youth-care facility dealing with high-risk young offenders so I immediately applied for a position. I was quickly offered the position and was then given a stack of employee documents, conduct codes, payment schedules, expected hours of work etc. A typical employee information bundle. As I was going through the material, especially the wages, hours, days off, over-night shifts etc it became clear that a few areas of the Employment Standards Act were not being followed. Especially with regards to the payment of wages for overnight shifts, the minimum amount of time-off between shifts and overtime payments. I pulled out relevant sections of the Employment Standards Act, and drafted a letter showing the side-by-side comparison of the written/documented items in the employee package, next to the sections in the Act which were clearly not being followed. I sent this to the registered psychologist (PhD) who ran the facility and then followed up with a phone call. I was polite, calm and very matter-of-factly stated that I was grateful for the opportunity to work at his facility but would only be able to accept the position if all of the relevant sections in the Employment Standards Act were followed, the employee package updated to comply with those sections of the Act and of course any back-payment or shift-changes required to be complaint with the Act, were implemented right away. I also indicated that if these ESA issues were addressed fully, and everything was brought up to the minimum requirements of the Act, that I would not file a formal complaint with Employment Standards. This was a short, calm and non-confrontational conversation but when I was finished speaking, and outlining my expectations, the psychologist started getting irate, raised his voice and tone slightly and then stated clearly that “I can see you don’t have the necessary motivation for this particular position and so I don’t think you would be suitable here”. I then stated, very calmly and matter-of-factly, something along the lines of “you do realize that even if you don’t offer me the position I still need to file a formal complaint and provide copies of your employee package to the Employment Standards Branch”. His tone started to get more annoyed and confrontational and it felt like he wanted to say “who the hell do you think you are questioning how I run my facility“. But I recall with absolute certainty that I remained calm and did not even raise my voice and said “thanks anyway, I will just file my complaint for the sake of your employees”. Within the next few days I filed a formal complaint with the Employment Standards Office. One benefit of having kept a journal for more than 25 years, is that I have very accurate and detailed records of many events in my life.
Shortly after this event, I was hired by the UNBC Psychology Department to implement a cardiovascular research projector funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. This work was funded by a grant provided to the Chair of the psychology department who just happened to be a personal friend of the psychologist running this facility. I did not know until around a year later that my boss, the Chair of the psych department had heard from this guy that “I called him in an angry, irate and abusive state to try and tell him, demand from him, a bunch of bizarre and unrealistic changes to the way he ran the facility” (or something close to that). He suggested that I was possibly unstable and abusive. Suffice it to say I vehemently denied everything this guy claimed and none if it was even remotely accurate. I even showed my boss the journal entry for that day along with the written complaint to the Employment Standards Office. Unfortunately I started to learn about the “old boys club” in some areas of academics and so my boss not only sided with this guy, but was of the opinion that he probably under-stated my anger and tone. This was strange since I was his “darling research assistant” and the pride of the department at the time.
End Result: Not too long after my employer, the Chair of psychology at UNBC, took this unscrupulous psychologists side, he was brought up on charges of fraud, embezzlement and his facility was shut down. My employer never mentioned him again.
Note: I cant help but notice the similarities in the reactions, conduct and even statements of both this psychologist and Shawn Huard of Sea To Sky Fire Prevention. Sure I don’t have a PhD in psychology, but both of these situations certainly resemble the manner in which some people respond when they are caught red-handed and someone attempts to hold them accountable for their actions.
Moral Crusade 5
“Conscience… is the impulse to do right because it is right, regardless of personal ends“. (Margaret Graham)
Between 1996-2000 I was working for the UNBC Psych Department as a Research Assistant, caring for my son and 2-3 boys, doing some database and statistical consulting work and trying to complete the requirements for my Masters of Science degree in Psychology. Since I was a “mature” student, was not in school to “get a good paying job”, had lots of non-academic life experiences and had a house on a lake, I was pretty popular with the other grad students. I often had parties and other gatherings out at the lake and new all the other graduate students very well. Many were young and had gone straight from high school to undergraduate and then graduate school. So they had little “real world” experience and were easily taken advantage of, or intimidated by those in authority, especially their graduate advisers with “PhD’s”.
After some time in the graduate program I started to hear from more than one fellow student, that they felt they were taken advantage of and gave up first-authorship on research papers submitted for publication. In every case (three if I recall correctly) first-authorship was “assumed” by the students graduate advisor although they had NOT put in any significant amount of time, research, effort or writing. The UNBC Psych department was very young with most faculty fresh out of graduate school and under pressure to publish. However, some were very lazy, if not minimally capable and so it would appear that some faculty thought they could advance their careers, justify tenure, by “scooping” first authorship from some of their students. At this time I was not very familiar with Intellectual Property Laws and so took it upon myself to research this area, especially as it applies to academics and the relationship between graduate students and their advisors. Suffice it to say that there was NO legal justification for what some of the faculty were doing and it was even clearly in contravention of the various conduct-codes of the Canadian Psychological Association. So my first approach was to raise the issue quietly and confidentially with Chair of the Psychology Department, my boss at the time. I will never forget his response and EXACT words. “It happens all the time in Graduate School”. He was unconvinced that there was a problem and something should be done. He had clearly not had a young graduate student telling him the stories of feeling taken advantage of and in tears. So, once again I was COMPELLED to act and filed a lengthy complaint with the Canadian Psychological Association.
End Result: At least one faculty member was suddenly, and quietly “let go” but the official story was that “they found a position elsewhere”. In the end, as a result of this incident and a few others where the psych department felt I was not “towing the line”, I resigned from my position literally minutes before my termination letter arrived.
Moral Crusade 6
“Again and again I am brought up against it, and again and again I resist it: I don’t want to believe it, even though it is almost palpable: the vast majority lack an intellectual conscience; indeed, it often seems to me that to demand such a thing is to be in the most populous cities as solitary as in the desert.“. (Nietzsche)
In October of 2004 I purchased a 3rd floor unit in the Marina Estates Strata complex in Squamish. Before the end of that year we had a big rain storm and noticed leaks coming from our south-facing windows. This was the start of a 5 year battle with multiple property management companies (including Dynamic Property Management) numerous strata councils, over a hundred thousand dollars in multiple engineering reports which basically all said the same thing, thousands of hours of research, meetings with lawyers, CHOA, real estate agents, engineering firms and many other related agencies. Thousands of pages of reports, research summaries, industry recommendations and other material prepared for owners and various strata councils. The amount of time, money, research, writing and effort I put into trying to encourage or force the strata council and property management companies to simply do what the engineering reports demanded, is ENORMOUS and constitutes the single greatest and longest “Johnny Crusade” to date. I have hundreds of pages and communications documenting pervasive, and repeated examples of inexcusable negligence, incompetence and Strata Property Act violations which collectively have doubled the cost of repairs, the amount of damage and the amount of our levies. Once the current legal action against the original builder has completed, this mass of evidence will be used to recover the remaining amount of our levy from individual strata council members who where negligent in carrying out of their duties to the strata corporation and owners.
End Result: After 5 years of enormous effort, emotional and financial expense, we are now replacing the entire building envelop.
Moral Crusade 7
“The only guide to man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honor“. (Churchill)
Alef Trust security and privacy negligence and whistle blower incident (details coming soon)
Various Quotes on Conscience
“Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life”. (Norman Cousins)
“Every human has four endowments- self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change”. (Stephan Covey)
“Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe — the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” (Kant)
“The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.” (Margaret Smith)
“A good conscience is to the soul what health is to the body; it preserves constant ease and serenity within us; and more than countervails all the calamities and afflictions which can befall us from without.” (Joseph Addison)
“The safest course is to do nothing against one’s conscience. With this secret, we can enjoy life and have no fear from death.” (Voltaire)
“The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle: the roar of the crowd on the one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other.” (Douglas MacArthur)