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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Centre for Inquiry Canada: Update

The Board of Directors of CFI Canada met with a few Associate members last Sunday (Dec. 11, 2011). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the termination of Justin Trottier as national Executive Director. Ian Bushfield has put together a brief description of the meeting at: The Continuing Story at CFI Canada.

The Board of Directors has emailed a statement to interested parties (see below). You can find out who's on the Board of Directors and who's an Associate Member at: What's Happening at Centre for Inquiry Canada?.

It's difficult to know what the Board has in mind with respect to Justin. They have not given him a paying job but they seem to be holding out hope that he might take over when the acting National Executive Director leaves in March 2012.

According to their statement, the Board is committed to adding new associate members. They say they have made decisions on some of the applications that they have already received. I have not heard from them on the status of my application.

Meanwhile, the Chair of CFI Edmonton, Brent Kelley, has resigned [Resignation as Chair of CFI Edmonton].
On Sunday, December 11, the Associate Members of CFI Canada met in Toronto. This meeting was followed shortly thereafter by a meeting of the board of directors. We, the board, believe it is important to provide you with information about these meetings and the actions and decisions that took place at these meetings.

The meeting of Associate Members was scheduled pursuant to the by-laws of our organization, that is, it was scheduled after the requisite number of Associate Members requested the meeting. The request for the meeting indicated its purpose was to consider the separation of Justin Trottier from the position of National Executive Director (NED), so that topic was discussed. Justin Trottier, who was present at the meeting, was provided a summary of the concerns of some of the directors and he was provided an opportunity to address those concerns. Some Associate Members also expressed their views, as did some of the Regional Executive Directors who audited the meeting.

We believe there was a frank and candid discussion of Justin Trottier’s tenure and the circumstances that led to his separation. We also believe this frank, candid exchange of views was of benefit to the organization.

Shortly after the Associate Members meeting, the board met. One of the issues considered was increasing the number of Associate Members. Among the decisions of the board on this issue were the following:
  • The board unanimously agreed to invite additional applications to the position of Associate Member, to ensure broader representation of the supporters of CFI Canada in this important class of membership;
  • Application forms can be obtained from the Interim NED, Michael Payton (, or from Kevin Smith, Secretary for the board;
  • Because the primary duty of the Associate Members is to elect directors at the organization’s annual meeting, applications will be reviewed carefully, and emphasis will be placed on the applicant’s prior work for and familiarity with the organization, as well as commitment to its mission;
  • The board concluded, consistent with the by-laws, that Associate Members should be a subset of the general membership and that the number of Associate Members should be kept at a manageable level;
  • The board resolved to act on applications in a timely manner so that applicants would be informed of their status prior to the March 11 annual meeting;
  • The board considered and acted on some of the applications it received prior to the December 11 meeting, and accepted applicants will be notified via email.
The board heard a report on the organization’s finances and the status of the organization from Interim NED Michael Payton. Although the organization has no cash crisis, and has sufficient assets to maintain operations in 2012, it was apparent that the organization needs to make efforts to increase donor support, and the board directed Mr. Payton to undertake fundraising. The Interim NED indicated he needed assistance in his new position to deal with the many tasks which require immediate attention.The board expressed appreciation for Mr. Payton’s willingness to step in quickly and assume the Interim NED position given the sudden departure of the prior NED. The board authorized Mr. Payton to seek volunteer assistance and stated it would consider a request to authorize
hiring of additional staff.

The board decided the branding initiative would continue, but that it would be put on hold given the current status of the organization. The organization’s first priorities are to ensure stability and reliable management, raise money, and begin to offer regular programming and services again as soon as possible.

After appropriate motions, the board resolved the following:
  • No final decision would be made on Justin Trottier’s possible reemployment in any position until the March 11 board meeting. In reaching this decision, the board carefully considered the views that had been offered concerning Mr. Trottier, both pro and con, as well as his record as NED. We also took into account the fact that we agreed to retain our current NED untill March at which time he will
    voluntarily step down.
  • The board would look favorably upon Mr. Trottier’s volunteering of his services to CFI Canada during the period prior to the March 11 board meeting.
    Lorne Trottier took no part in the voting on these motions. The motions carried 3-0, with Tom Flynn absent and Kevin Smith abstaining.
After the board meeting, the board was informed that Justin Trottier would volunteer to assist the organization. CFI Canada welcomes his willingness to volunteer, as it welcomes the willingness of all its volunteers to donate their valuable time and energy to furthering our mission.

One other item the board discussed at length was the perception that there is a lack of transparency and openness in board deliberations. To that end the board will be doing some renovations to the web site which will include, among other things, the posting of our by laws. We will also make available, the application to become an Associate Member along with the guidelines for applying. We will also have a dedicated email so CFI supporters can directly contact the board, the email
will be up by starting Thursday Dec 15th.

The board is committed to using its best efforts to ensuring not only the survival, but the success of CFI Canada and its important mission. We are well aware that many of the decisions we make are bound to be controversial. We cannot please everybody. At the end of the day we have to rely on our judgment. Our service as directors is not perpetual. Associate Members will be able to reelect or remove us at the March 11 meeting. In the meantime, we pledge to you that we will act in good faith, motivated by what we think is best for the organization and its missio

Thank you for your support.


  1. Yes, it does look like they're trying to bring Justin back. I'm not sure if he should come back, and I'm not sure if he's been punished enough. Also, we might end up being too reliant on a single person.

    One of the biggest issues is meeting space. I checked fb, and the new offices do have small meeting rooms. Which is okay. But they need something larger for events. Where are they going to find that? Can they have that arranged through the University of Toronto campus club?

  2. @Angeleyes,

    CFI Canada (National) may only need a small office.

    Part of the confusion is that nobody seems to be thinking of CFI Ontario (Toronto). That organization has ceased to exist.