DECEMBER 1, 2002
Clearing the Air: OBAC's Position Regarding the Missing Accountant
After two successful launch events -- Toronto's Truck World 2002 and Abbotsford, B.C.'s Truxpo a week later -- and several years of pre-launch preparation, the Owner-Operator's Business Association of Canada (OBAC) now finds itself under a cloud of rumour and innuendo. Despite the ongoing efforts of the executive committee and the board of directors to move the organization forward, some difficulties have unfortunately arisen at a critical early point in our development.
The Board of Directors would like to take this opportunity to review the facts as they currently stand, to address the allegations of impropriety and assure our many supporters that OBAC is alive and well, and remains committed to its original mandate: to improve the prospects for financial success for Canadian owner-operators.
According to our most recent information, the situation is as follows: Anthony Leckie, OBAC's former treasurer and financial service provider was reported missing by his family on Oct. 4, 2002. Mr. Leckie was expected to meet with OBAC officials on the final day of Truck World 2002 (Saturday Sept. 21st), but failed to appear. Repeated telephone calls and e-mails went unanswered. To this day, the police, Mr. Leckie's family, and OBAC remain unsure of his whereabouts. While OBAC is extremely concerned for his welfare and for the emotional well being of his family, the Association is also anxious to recover its missing financial records.
Mr. Leckie's disappearance has created some concern over the financial and operational stability of OBAC. Without access to the bank records that Mr. Leckie was maintaining, we are unable to provide a detailed accounting of our current financial status. We are well aware that certain financial obligations remain unmet, obligations which would already have been discharged if these unforeseen circumstances had not arisen.
The OBAC Board recently passed several resolutions concerning our banking situation, including the removal of Mr. Leckie as a signatory to OBAC's bank account, and the appointment of one of our directors from British Columbia, Don Robertson, as Treasurer, Mr. Robertson has taken steps, via forensic audit in concert with the bank and our stakeholders, to determine the full extent of the situation. His report is imminent.
We must point out that Mr. Leckie, a chartered accountant, was not a director of OBAC, but a volunteer treasurer. He was also working under contract to OBAC, providing financial statements, general accounting services, and the cash flow projections needed to manage both the start-up and our daily operation. His performance during the initial phases of OBAC's establishment was exemplary, and all concerned considered his judgment satisfactory.
Another situation has arisen which has added uncertainty to the association's current state: one of our inaugural directors, who has since resigned from the board, has been publicly questioning the legitimacy of OBAC's organizational structure. This has undermined our efforts to deal with bank officials in clarifying our financial status, and has caused considerable confusion among the government officials responsible for OBAC's start-up funding.
It is worth noting here that OBAC's initial funding was never designed to be an ongoing source of revenue. OBAC has always intended to derive its operating capital from the dissemination of programs and services to its members, and through sponsorship and co-operative ventures with various industry-related partners. The initial funding was required to cover such costs as management fees for the start-up and launch of OBAC, telephone costs, printing, trade show expenses, etc. OBAC retained several sub-contracted service providers to implement the course the Board had laid out, and these services are still being provided by various professionals, all of whom have all been compensated from resources made available during OBAC's start-up phase.
For the record, the amount advanced to OBAC for eligible start-up costs was carefully estimated, and submitted to government for approval prior to disbursement. The projected amount was advanced to OBAC at the end of the summer, and with all the projected tasks completed, or nearing completion, the bank account should in fact be nearly empty at this juncture. As would be expected, OBAC fully anticipated being in a position to collect and utilize membership fees and corporate sponsorship, in addition to the balance of the previously pledged government funding, for its continued operation. Given the continued uncertainty of its financial status, OBAC has yet to cash a single membership cheque nor will it do so under the current circumstances.
And another clarification is in order here; that of the widely and erroneously reported thousand-dollar per diem taken by OBAC board members for their participation in the initial board meetings held in Toronto on Aug. 22-25. The phrase 'per diem' implies a daily allowance; in this case $250.00 was considered appropriate. The Board of Directors met for four days, thus the total of one thousand dollars.
We make no apologies here, because each of the board members is a dedicated professional who has taken time away from their own business ventures to participate in these meetings. The per diem was intended to offset income losses suffered over the same period. OBAC believes that in order to maintain an active board of committed individuals, those individuals shouldn't suffer any loss in personal income or business revenue. In fact, many of the volunteer efforts in the past have suffered greatly, and ultimately succumbed, due to the 'cost' of active participation on the part of the board members. OBAC intends to maintain this policy in order to insure the continued viability of its board, and to insure more of the many talented men and women who work in trucking might eventually step forward to help OBAC advance the cause of the owner-operator.
It bears mention that the directors themselves have covered all operating expenses incurred since the disappearance of Mr. Leckie. The fact that the board members are now operating on their own resources is a definitive demonstration of their personal commitment. No amount of compensation could possibly be adequate to cover the many hours that each and every participant in OBAC's development has devoted to the planning and execution of our mandate.
Despite these unfortunate circumstances, the OBAC Board of Directors remains optimistic. The group has received a very positive response from several industry sources, and has generated a great deal of interest from prospective members as well as from potential corporate sponsors. The Board of Directors wants to reassure its many long-suffering supporters that, if not for the completely unforeseen circumstance of Mr. Leckie's disappearance, and the continuing nuisance created by a former director, the association would be on solid ground today and moving ahead as planned. OBAC's formation is the result of a great deal of work by many dedicated individuals, and there is no intention giving up.