“Debate over diversity and democratic processes dominated the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) annual general meeting held virtually on August 22.

A small group of doctors defeated two motions aimed at boosting the inclusion of underrepresented groups in CMA leadership, and disputes cast a shadow over the ratification of the organization’s first Indigenous president-elect, Dr. Alika Lafontaine.

The first motion proposed to allow all members to vote to select the CMA president-elect nominee. Historically, doctors in each Canadian jurisdiction have taken turns selecting a nominee in a local vote.

The second motion proposed to replace elections for CMA board and committee positions with a search committee that would recommend candidates based on an ‘evolving set of skills and diversity attributes.’ CMA had planned to appoint an inaugural search committee comprised of three board members, three physician ‘members-at-large,’ and one non-physician with experience in governance for an initial one-year term.

While most physicians at the meeting supported the leadership overhaul, the motions failed to win the two-thirds majority required to pass.

CMA Vice-Chair Dr. Carl Nohr presented the motions as part of an ‘intentional plan to diversify our leadership.’ To date, most CMA presidents have been white men, notably including the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

‘While diversity and equity may happen by chance, they usually do not,’ Nohr explained. ‘Democracy always allows the majority to rule but… if we wish to reflect diversity in leadership, we must design a governance model that intentionally lifts up minorities.'”

Read more via Minority of doctors block CMA diversity overhaul via CMAJ.

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