While the current board of the Outaouais chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters is standing behind its embattled executive director, Yvonne Dubé, more than half of its members had to be replaced in recent months due to a flurry of resignations, a Radio-Canada investigation has revealed.
Some of the departed board members cited tensions with Dubé as their reason for leaving the charity, according to Radio-Canada.
Last week Radio-Canada revealed that Dubé falsely portrayed herself as a lawyer and practised law without a licence, all without the board's prior knowledge.
On Saturday, the board voted unanimously to support Dubé despite the revelations.
But five of nine members of the board of directors and executive committee had already left their posts before Radio-Canada published its story, including the president, the vice-president, the secretary and two directors.
They have since been replaced.
Failed attempt to strengthen oversight
The charity's former vice-president, Pierre Samson, said he resigned after a failed attempt to install governance, finance and ethics committees. He also wanted the charity to prepare audited financial statements.
"Dubé told me the controls were already in place and I had no reason to look at that," Samson told Radio-Canada.
François Desrochers, another former member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter's board of directors, backed up Samson's claims.
He said he supported Samson's attempts to improve ethical oversight of the charity.
"Personally, I was very much in agreement that there should be controls," Desrochers said.
Radio-Canada attempted to reach several current board members, without success. Big Brothers Big Sisters declined an interview request, but has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday.
Charity stands by executive director
In an emailed statement, the current president of the board of the Outaouais chapter said the charity's financial statements are audited annually.
While he did not address the original accusations against Dubé directly, Richard Gravel said she will keep her job, and has the full trust of the board.
"The Board's decision was unanimous that the directors maintain the director general's employment contract as well as its confidence," Gravel said in French.
This news comes only a few days after Dubé made a criminal harassment complaint against Radio-Canada journalist Antoine Trépanier, who reported that she falsely portrayed herself as a lawyer and practised law.
She consented to an order in April 2015 by Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles T. Hackland to "permanently cease practising the law without authorization."
Dubé acknowledged that she acted as a lawyer between September 2011 and March 2012, but in a phone conversation with Radio-Canada, denied ever representing clients in court without a licence.
The national charity also refused to comment on the allegations against Dubé. Acting president and CEO Matthew Chater explained to Radio-Canada that each local chapter is responsible for hiring its executive director and must comply with a code of ethics.