The President of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald resigned last week as President over her personal financial investments in the stocks of tobacco and health care companies. The duplicity of being President of the CDC, a position which carries with it the expectation that the individual will encourage Americans to stop smoking while simultaneously investing in the stock of tobacco companies (hence investing in their future growth and profitability) is obviously unacceptable. Furthermore, investing in health care companies which resulted in recusals is equally unacceptable from the President of the CDC when their involvement is critical in steering the country, especially now in times of epidemics such as the opioid crisis.
Dr Fitzgerald’s attempt to excuse her conflict of interest by stating that she was not fully aware of the actions of her financial advisor who acted without her knowledge and invested in both the tobacco and health care companies was unacceptable. Despite eliminating the financial holdings which caused the conflict of interest, Dr Fitzgerald still had to resign from the position of President of the CDC.
Relevance to the “State of Swimming in Canada, and Ontario”…
If the President of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) had to resign from her post because of personal investments she made which placed her in a Conflict of Interest then how does that position a Board of Directors – who are funded by the Government of Ontario to increase access, remove barriers, increase capacity, and provide opportunities to citizens of Ontario to the sport of swimming – who VOTED REPEATEDLY & UNANIMOUSLY TO IMPOSE A MORATORIUM on new clubs for not one but multiple seasons, who as a result of their vote personally profited at the expense of the citizens of Ontario?
The Sports Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada definition of a RED LIST Conflict of Interest is simple: an individual or a group of individuals which stands to benefit from a decision cannot be the decision makers and must withdraw from the decision making process.
The Board of Swim Ontario is made up of head coaches and club Presidents, individuals who all would directly benefit in numerous ways by imposing a moratorium on new clubs. By voting to implement this policy, the entire Board placed itself into a RED LIST Conflict of Interest.
The Board of Swim Ontario could not identify that it was in a Conflict of Interest scenario: but this is the leadership which is to fairly, equitably, and respectfully implement policies and procedures that will yield a thriving sport?
This is the quality of the leaders in the sport of swimming in Ontario. These are the coaches called to represent all other coaches in the sport of swimming in Ontario. Think about it, then think about the fact that this quality of leadership is influencing your children. Is this who you want mentoring your children?
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) Position Statement on Corporate Governance
What happens when individuals who lack basic education and experience in corporate governance are nominated for a position on a Board of Directors? Individuals who lack even the most basic awareness and appreciation of the fiduciary duties of being on a Board ignorantly accept the position as a Director and then end up passing policies and procedures without any consideration whether or not those by-laws, regulations, and standards breach their fiduciary obligations. Unfortunately for them and the body they represent, ignorance is never a satisfactory answer when those to whom they are accountable request an explanation.
When the Coaches Association of Ontario was informed of the actions of the Swim Ontario Board, when the Board of the CAO was informed of this Conflict of Interest (COI)… nothing happened. There was no condemnation of the abuse of power, there was no request for further information, for clarification, for justification from the Swim Ontario Board, there was no response from the Coaches Association of Ontario.
When the Coaches Association of Canada was contacted, specifically when President Mr Parro was informed of this COI… not only did he defend the actions of the Swim Ontario Board, Mr Parro sourced a PhD from an Ontario University to stand behind him enforcing the position of Coaches of Canada that there is no Conflict of Interest.
None of the coaching associations could remember their own Code of Conduct, their own Code of Ethics. Amazing what happens to people when it comes to protecting their positions, to protecting their interests. Correct me if I am wrong… but by defending a RED LIST COI, doesn’t that place both of these Associations into a COI?
What is it called when an organization requires that all of its members adhere to specific standards (and in the case of Swim Ontario prosecutes violently and viciously anyone who is caught violating those standards to the point of using sports media connections to perform public character assassinations of those deemed not in the circle of “friends of Swim Ontario”) yet that organization holds itself exempt from any standards, even when it fails to uphold basic Provincial Sport Organization obligations?
That is the state of coaching.
This is the state of sport.
This is the state of swimming.
A request of all athletes who endorse, support, partner with SNC & SO:
To all past and present Canadian National and Olympic Team members I ask you to consider what it says about you when you partner with organizations whose leadership is only invested in their own well being, their own interests, and claim with a forked tongue to be fully invested in the sport of swimming, the improvement of the sport, the development of athletes?
Swimming Natation Canada (SNC) and Swim Ontario (SO) are using your integrity, your honesty, your reputation as a dedicated, committed, hard working athlete as a front to cover their abuses of the privilege given to them by both Provincial and Federal levels of government. Why sell your reputation of excellence to those who are willing to use it not for the good of all, but only for the good of themselves?
Swimming Natation Canada and Swim Ontario need you more than you need them. Think about it.
Excerpt from article in Runners World regarding a Conflict of Interest situation in the US Track & Field Association:
“USATF has no reason to believe TrackTown and/or Mr. Lananna have done anything wrong and understand that they have been told that they are not a target of the investigation,” said Steve Miller, USATF board chairman, in a written statement. “But to avoid any conflict or appearance of conflict of interest in relation to the investigation, the board voted to place Mr. Lananna on temporary administrative leave until the Department of Justice investigation pertaining to TrackTown and the 2021 world championships is resolved.”
Point… even when there is no reason to believe anyone has done anything wrong… “but to avoid any conflict or appearance of a COI”…there is a proper way to handle things, there is a proper process to address COIs, there is a proper way for a Board to act.