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Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce board chairman resigns

Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce board chairman resigns

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The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce board chairman is the second top person to resign from the organization in as many days. Lawyer John Clark resigned early Saturday, less than 12 hours after president and CEO Matt Marchand.

The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce board chairman is the second top person to resign from the organization in as many days.

Lawyer John Clark resigned early Saturday, less than 12 hours after president and CEO Matt Marchand.

Marchand resigned late Friday after the board denied his request for an unpaid leave of absence while he runs for Windsor mayor in the Oct. 22 municipal election.

John Clark is seen here at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce gala at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts in Windsor on June 24, 2016. TYLER BROWNBRIDGE / WINDSOR STAR

Clark refused to comment Tuesday, but a source close to the board said, “The departure was related to differences with the executive and the board.”

The way Marchand’s request for a leave was handled was one example, said the source, who cited contractual reasons for not wanting to be identified.

 

Clark’s one-year term, which was to expire last month, had been extended for another year. He was to continue until June 2019. He potentially would have remained on the board as the past chair after that. But he resigned from both the chairmanship and the board, effective immediately.

He will be replaced by chair-elect Jason Ilijanic, director of commercial services for the Windsor Family Credit Union.

Marchand, policy assistant to Mayor Mike Hurst from 1992 to 2003, has been replaced by acting president and CEO Janice Forsyth, founder of Foresight Management Consulting and a past board chair.

Ilijanic and Forsyth were contacted by the Star. Neither responded.

Lindsey Rivait, executive assistant to the chamber president and CEO and the organization’s communications co-ordinator, is acting as Marchand’s assistant in his campaign. She has also asked for an unpaid leave of absence during the campaign and has not received an answer.

Asked Tuesday if he received a settlement from the chamber, Marchand said, “I can’t answer that. The chamber has a policy of not responding to human resources issues. I respect that.”

Marchand has said he was asked to run in the election. He wrote in his three-page letter to the board requesting a leave that it’s common for employers to grant leaves to employees to run for public office.

“If they didn’t,” he wrote, “then few could ever run for office (except those with monetary means) and our public debate would be stifled and new ideas would be limited.”

The city granted former Windsor West MPP Teresa Piruzza a leave to run in the provincial election in 2011, and McTague Law Firm granted Mayor Drew Dilkens a leave to run for his current position in 2014, Marchand noted in his request.

He suggested meeting with an interim CEO to discuss key chamber issues and ensure a seamless transition. He offered to assist the chamber while he was on leave. He also offered to respond to questions. There were none.

“I wanted to give it my full-on, 100-per-cent effort, and the best way to do that, of course, would be to take a leave from the job,” Marchand said earlier.

The board advised Marchand before he requested a leave that if it was not granted and he still ran, it may consider his request to be his notice of resignation.

The board’s June 12 response to the request, signed by Clark, was two sentences.

“It would not be in the best interests of the chamber to grant your request,” it concluded.

There was no explanation for the decision.

 

 

Credit: windsorstar

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