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Wednesday August 05, 2015

 

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Written by Alan Hustak for VMO
Thursday July 9th, 2015

The resigning president of Collective Community Services admits the agency would never have dropped “Catholic” from its name had it known how heated the ensuing controversy would be.

But Tom Boushel, who stepped down this week as head of the CCS board following a chaotic annual general meeting in June, says his critics must understand the realities of program funding. The umbrella funding organization Centraide simply left CCS no choice but to make the change, he said. 

“We were caught between a rock and a hard place,” Boushel told VMO following his resignation. “We knew that by changing the name, there would be some controversy. Did we think it would turn out like this? No.”

Outrage erupted earlier this year after VMO revealed the CCS board had voted to scrap its decades-old name, Catholic Community Services, and become Collective Community Services. The group’s annual general meeting collapsed in acrimony and was stopped halfway through when local English-speaking Catholics showed up to challenge the board. 

Boushel said if the only issue had been the name change, it would “certainly not” have occurred. He also rejected accusations CCS has adopted an anti-Catholic stance in recent years. 

“We made changes to satisfy Centraide, not because we are anti-Catholic as some people say. In fact, we are more Catholic than before,” the former president said.

When VMO first reported the change, a spokesman for Centraide insisted the funding organization had not, and never would, request dropping of the word Catholic. 

Boushel told VMO that was playing with words since Centraide’s arduous application process makes it almost impossible for an overtly Catholic charity to obtain program funding. 

“Centraide is not going to get into a pissing match with the Catholic Church,” he said. “But our programs were very limited under Centraide’s rules because we called ourselves Catholic. They run (each application) through the prerequisites for each program and if you don’t meet their criteria, you don’t get the money. 

The proof is in the growth of CCS programs, courtesy of Centraide funding, with the word Catholic dropped, he said. 

“When we had Catholic in our name, we served one school board with three programs. Now, we serve three school boards with 11 programs. ” 

Boushel said his detractors cannot have it both ways. If CCS can’t receive money from Centraide, it must find it somewhere else. And funding from the Catholic Church and the Catholic charitable community has been non-existent, he said. 

Boushel, who has served as CCS president for three years and been a board member for nine years, will remain active within the organization. He said he was stepping down because he has become a “lightening rod” for English-speaking Catholic community anger.

“If CCS is going to resolve its problems, it was thought best that I step aside. But because most of the board members are new and have very little background knowledge, I will continue to be a resource person and an advisor as we attempt to arrive at some sort of amicable solution.”

Boushel will be replaced as president by board member Pierre Cinq-Mars. 

A new annual general meeting will be held “within the legal time frame” but will be open to members only.

 

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