Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bun Fight at the GMREB Corral Yields its First Crumb

Stop the presses! Michel Beauséjour has tendered his resignation as chief executive officer of the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board.
It looks like Beausejour is falling on his sword after making some rather ill-considered remarks to La Presse last month about the impact Quebec's new brokerage act will have on the industry. Among other, things, he said the new laws governing the business will help "professionalize" the industry and put and end to the "époque des peddlers".
You can imagine how well this sat with many of  the 10,500 members of the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board. The GMREB is a business group whose only purpose in life is to promote the practice of real estate in the metropolitan area and to operate the MLS system for local agents.
The Beauséjour interview went on to make good and valid points about changes to the brokerage act that were five years in the making and why the public should care, but the use of the word "peddler" was an insult too far for some. Was it too much to hope that Beauséjour, whose salary is paid by agents, would advocate for agents without besmirching them?
A petition demanding Beausejour's resignation circulated on the Internet and was followed by a letter delivered by bailiff demanding the same.
The board of the GMREB didn't much like that and sicced lawyers, again paid for by the members,  on the petition writers. The board then sent out a communiqué to the membership:

"Your Board of Directors reviewed this issue and while also disappointed with the tone of the article, realized that one cannot control content in a newspaper article. Also, given that the CEO has given over 1,000 excellent interviews over the course of 11 years, the Board of Directors has unanimously decided to stand in support of the CEO who has always had the industry’s best interests at heart.  This viewpoint and support are also openly shared by the Board of Directors of the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards.  Each and everyone of these people, on both Boards and who are my colleagues volunteering on your behalf, are 100 per cent in support of the CEO. We publicly stand behind him and will not allow him to resign, nor does he have any intention of doing so.
As a matter of fact, we are all, to say the least, dismayed and frankly appalled at the tactics being used by some people to undermine an individual who is held in the highest regard by our industry.
According to our lawyers, there are potential severe legal consequences to these latest tactics.  Therefore, our solicitors have sent a warning letter to the petition website, to request that the petition be retired because it is potentially  defamatory . . . " 

That was on June 4th. Beausejour's departure was announced today in a terse three-sentence communiqué signed by Patrick Juanéda, president of the GMREB's board of directors.
In his leter (available in French only, ahem!) Beauséjour  noted the radical changes afoot in the real estate sector, the entry of new players and the insecurity that is causing some agents. Having taken the GMREB as far as he can in the last 10 years, it has become apparent that it is time for a new leader to lead the organization forward, he said.
Maybe that's all there is to it, but I suspect Mr. Beauséjour was feeling the heat from the rank and file. As the old saying goes, we wish him well in all his future endeavors.

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