The Canadian Centre for Inquiry was founded in 2007 and the inaugural meeting was held in their rented facilities just south of the University of Toronto and a short walk from my office [Centre for Inquiry: March 10, 2007]. Justin Trottier was the new director.
CFI - Canada has now grown from the original Toronto (Ontario) branch to include branches in Vancouver, Okanagan, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Ottawa, Montreal, and Nova Scotia. There's paid staff in Toronto and there are now paid employees (usually part time) in several other centres.
Justin Trottier has played a huge role in developing CFI into a national organization. In addition to the formal centres, CFI is affiliated with dozens of other organizations across Canada. I admire Justin for the tremendous efforts he has put into building CFI Canada and, especially, for recruiting students. Unfortunately, the qualities I admire in Justin are exactly the same qualities that turn some people off. The squabbles at CFI are part of a larger disagreement between accommodationists and confrontationists. I agree with The Good Atheist, Jacob Fortin, when he says [CFI Canada Members have a lot to be worried about] ...
As the former National Director of the Center for Inquiry Canada, Justin Trottier clearly fell into the Confrontationalist camp. From his early days as a student activist at the University of Toronto, Justin was instrumental in breathing life into CFI. In it’s early days, his personality and vision allowed the organization to grow. His management style, unfortunately, tended to make him few friends. Still, one of the main reason why the organization has been so successful as of late is because of his relentless activism and his ability to “get the job done”. The whole reason CFI even exists in Canada is largely his doing. Say what you will about him: Justin has drive, and the growth of the organization would have been impossible without his passion.
On Monday, Nov. 21, 2011, Derek sought support from the Board of Directors. He was concerned that recent events had undermined his authority. The Board of Directors apparently failed to show support for Derek so he resigned on Wednesday. The following day, Thursday, November 24, 2011, the Chair of the Board of Directors, Carol Parlow, resigned along with Michael Gardiner and Ian McCuaig. You can read the "official" version of the story on Canadian Atheist [Dear Colleagues ...]. Good luck trying to figure out what's going on.
Ian Bushfield has another version of events from the position of someone who was not a great fan of Ian Trottier [CFI Canada: Half-truths and scandal].
Zak, a friend of Justin's, has a different take [CFI:Canada’s identity crisis]. (I really don't like linking to Zak's post on Canadian Atheist since he doesn't reveal his name. I'll make an exception this time but if this crisis continues I'll ignore all anonymous or pseudoanonymous bloggers.)
I don't know much about the Board of Directors even though I'm a CFI Canada Advisory Fellow. This could be because I haven't been paying attention but I don't think I'm entirely to blame for the lack of information; for example, if you check out the CFI website you'll see that it's hopelessly out-of-date. There's nothing on the website to indicate that the organization is in (possibly fatal) turmoil.
Here's a list of present and former directors:
Carol Parlow (clinical psychiatrist, Oakville, Ontario)
- Richard Thain (Humanist Association, Ottawa, Ontario)
- Kevin Smith (happy atheist, Toronto, Ontario), Secretary
- Lorne Trottier (wealthy member of the Order of Canada, and Justin Trottier's uncle, Montreal, Quebec)
- Pat O’Brien (member, CFI Vancouver)
Derek Rodgers (student, University of Dalhousis, Halifax, Nova Scotia)
- Ronald Lindsay (President and CEO of Center for Inquiry, United States)
Barry Karr (Executive Director of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), Amherst, New York)
- Tom Flynn (Executive Director of The Council for Secular Humanism, Amherst, New York)
Michael Gardiner (Canadian Federation of Students?) Ian McCuaig (?)
If, as I suspect, this is an open meeting, then it's a good time to challenge the current directors and try to get some new directors who can fix the problems at CFI Canada. Otherwise, I fear it is doomed to death by suicide.