Resignations cap awkward Sask. Pulse Growers vote

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A pulse crop producers’ vote to fill two spots on the board of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers has wound up with three new directors, in a short-lived controversy over the issue of endorsing candidates.

SPG directors Shawn Buhr, Jim Moen and Bert Vandenberg — whose seats were not involved in this year’s election — submitted their resignations Thursday.

The resignations followed Tuesday’s announcement that eligible growers had re-elected Vicki Dutton of Paynton for a second consecutive term and also returned John Bennett of Biggar to the board.

SPG’s board on Friday appointed Tim Wiens of Herschel and Corey Loessin of Radisson to fill two of the sudden vacancies, for interim terms of a year each.

Wiens, who had run unsuccessfully for one of the two vacant seats, "brings great experience in strategic planning" to SPG from his stint on the board of SaskCanola, SPG chairman Morgan Nunweiler of Kindersley said Friday.

Loessin, meanwhile, "has excellent knowledge of the industry and its partners, having served as the SPG representative to (the national pulse crop industry body) Pulse Canada," Nunweiler added.

Dutton, Bennett and Wiens were among five candidates in SPG’s mail-in vote, which began in mid-November with a ballot deadline of Dec. 6.

As SPG mailed out its ballots to eligible growers, Moen, Vandenberg and Buhr pushed out their own press release on Nov. 19, throwing their endorsements to the two other candidates, Rob Hundeby of Elbow and Trevor Simpson of Moose Jaw.

"A key duty of elected SPG directors is to identify and encourage people to let their name stand for election as director," Moen, Vandenberg and Buhr wrote in their release. "The directors assisted them in the nomination process and ask pulse growers to vote for these young farm businessmen in the election which is underway."

"It is encouraging to see this new generation of young pulse growers run for our board," Buhr said in the release. "We need their input and new ideas to move our pulse industry forward. It is so beneficial to our industry to have an election which provides choices and stimulates discussion."

"Support and trust"

The next week, however, an official SPG release announced that the board "would like to communicate some recent changes to its governance policies." Among those:

  • no director will actively campaign in an SPG election, apart from campaigning for themselves;
  • neither the SPG board nor its directors will endorse candidates in an election; and
  • the SPG board will "review, and change where warranted, its nomination and election policies."

"The board felt that it was necessary to address issues that have been raised during this 2012 election and to publicly clarify our governance policies to ensure that we maintain the support and trust of our growers," Nunweiler said in the Nov. 27 release.

"We have always had clear policies regarding director duties and conflict of interest at the board table, but felt it was essential to further develop our policies regarding director elections."

The Nov. 27 release added that Moen, Vandenberg and Buhr "apologize(d) to the board and candidates."

Following their resignations Thursday, Moen, Vandenberg and Buhr were thanked in SPG’s release Friday, with Nunweiler noting "their dedication and passion for the pulse industry was essential in building our strategic plan."

The three new board members assume their roles alongside Dutton, Nunweiler and the sixth director, Lee Moats of Riceton, following SPG’s annual general meeting.

SPG’s AGM runs Jan. 7 at Saskatoon’s Prairieland Park, as part of Pulse Days during Crop Production Week.