QCGN board members resign, take aim at president's leadership style

Six board members at the Quebec Community Groups Network have resigned, in the latest blow to the organization representing English-language community groups in the province.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the departing board members said they "have lost confidence in the QCGN president's ability to reform a leadership style that has so alienated numerous members that their entire boards have voted to resign."

Geoffrey Chambers has headed the organization since June 2018.

Five of the six resigning board members are from organizations that have already withdrawn from the QCGN. 

They are: Mary Ellen Beaulieu of the North Shore Community Association; Cheryl Henry-Leggo of Vision Gaspé-Percé Now; Sharleen Sullivan, of Neighbours Regional Association of Rouyn-Noranda; Edward Sweeney, of Voice of English Quebec (Quebec City); and Guy Rodgers, of the provincewide English-Language Arts Network. 

The sixth person to resign is Christopher Neal, who does not represent a specific organization.

More than 10 organizations have broken off from the QCGN in recent weeks, with many taking issue with what they view as an overly aggressive approach to relations with the CAQ government. 

The resignations announced Tuesday reduce the QCGN's board membership from 14 to eight.

"We saw the defections that happened last week, and we felt as board members that we faced the choice of either defending the president or going along with the groups that have left the organization," said Neal in an interview with CBC.

"We felt we had to do the latter. We couldn't defend the president any further."

For his part, Rodgers said the QCGN "was more effective in the past when it collaborated and when it listened, when it made allies rather than just fragmenting into a clique of people who share the current leadership's opinions and a bunch of other people who don't." 

In an earlier interview, Chambers acknowledged there have been some "contentious board meetings" within the network about how to approach issues of controversy.

He said his own view, which is one shared by many others within the QCGN, is that the group should speak out forcefully.

The QCGN, founded in 1995, describes itself as a centre of "collective action on the strategic issues affecting the development and vitality of English-speaking Quebec."