Condo Election Speeches – The art of b******t

February 2024

The nature of condo politics is no different than for politics in general.  There is no independent verification of what candidates say, their credentials or actual achievements.  Candidates seeking re-election have a voting history that is never disclosed.  New candidates are mainly unknown to those voting.

The most condo owners can hope for when electing directors to their board is a short resume or a few written paragraphs on each candidate distributed prior to the annual general meeting.  Candidates may be given a few minutes to speak to owners prior to ballots being collected.

Many candidates claim to have experience that, when facts are considered, is less impressive.  Customer service experience as a sales manager may be nothing more than working the counter at Tim Hortons, answering phones in a call center or manning the cash register at a supermarket.  That successful business owner may be walking dogs and taking payment in cash that is never reported on their tax return.  While there is nothing wrong with these jobs, excluding the failure to declare income and pay tax on it, these experiences are unlikely to be helpful in the management or direction of a condominium corporation.

This is no way for owners to make an informed decision on who should be elected as directors for their corporation.  There are no consequences for candidates who embellish their successes or accomplishments.  In fact, there is every reason for them to do so.

Truth is a casualty in today’s society.  Everything is potentially true so long as it is not disagreeable.  Facts are neither correct or incorrect.  And anything disagreeable is labelled as fake.

Director-candidates will state they want to reduce condo fees or improve things.  Current directors seeking re-election will state how much they have saved owners or how their lives are better.  Yet it is rare that any statements are backed up with specifics or that condominium owners actually see the claimed savings.  It is all rather nebulous or hazy.

Once a lie has been stated, it takes much more work to refute it.  Few are capable or prepared to contest a lie, particularly when it pertains to being elected for a volunteer position.  The lie gets repeated and believed by others.

Does it matter if a director is or has been a chartered accountant?  A condo treasurer can be highly effective without this level of skill so long as they understand basic math and budgeting.  What they require is a willingness to review and understand monthly financial statements, invoices and bank records.  One condominium community chose to elect a retired chartered accountant as director.  The individual was highly qualified and virtually blind.  As treasurer, he was unable to do the required work and the community suffered for many years.

Directors can look good in the eyes of owners by pushing out expenditures for a few years.  Expenses get reduced, possibly along with condo fees.  It takes a few years for owners to realize the extent to which their building infrastructure is degrading because of this.  By the time problems become apparent, those who caused the problems are no longer directors.  Individuals currently serving as directors get blamed for problems created by their predecessors.

While it is good that some want to serve as directors for their condominium community, owners should be aware of the extent to which some will misrepresent the value they offer to the community or their reasons for wanting this volunteer role.  It takes a concerted effort to get beyond what is superficially communicated.