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Thursday, December 08, 2011

What's Happening at Centre for Inquiry Canada?

The short answer is, "I don't know." The long answer is, "I don't think anyone else does."

Here's what I know.

Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism (CASS)
CASS continues to meet and there are many projects under way. One of the co-directors, Michael Kruse, resigned because he wasn't happy with the direction that CFI was headed. The other co-director, Iain Martel is carrying on.

Centre for Inquiry Ontario
Right now this branch doesn't exist as far as I can tell. There's no leader and no volunteers are working.

National Executive Director
The acting National Executive Director is Michael Payton. He is struggling to get a grip on the organization after the abrupt departure of Derek Pert a few weeks ago. (Derek was forced to resign when the Board of Directors failed to support him.) The former National Executive Director, Justin Trottier, was fired last September.)

Michael could use a lot of help but there's no room for anyone else in the new office. Don't expect the website to be updated in the near future. Don't expect any memberships to be renewed—and certainly don't expect to be notified if your expires. Don't even expect any email messages from the head office.

Michael is leaving for Singapore in a few months and there's nobody who looks like they could step into his job.

Board of Directors/Associate Members

Three members of the Board of Directors resigned two weeks ago (Carol Parlow, Ian McCuaig, and Michael Gardnier). The remaining Canadian members are: Kevin Smith, Lorne Trottier, Pat O'Brian, and Richard Thain. The representatives from CFI Transnational are Ron Lindsay and Tom Flynn.

The Associate Members elect the Board of Directors. In addition to the current directors and the three who resigned there are six Associate Members: Chris DiCarlo, Jeffrey Rosenthal, Zak Fiddes, Ethan Clow, Bisi Bashorun, and Barry Karr. (Barry Karr is from CFI Transnational.)

As far as I know, only three of these are active: Chris DiCarlo, Jeffrey Rosenthal, and Zak Fiddes.

Sunday Meeting
There's going to be a meeting this Sunday. It was called by a group of Associate Members. The first part of the meeting is between the Board of Directors and the three active Associate Members. The second part of the meeting is a Board meeting.

The main item on the agenda is whether the firing of Justin Trottier was fair. I believe Justin will be at the meeting. There's talk of a plan to re-hire him in some capacity. It's clear that some members of the Board are sympathetic and it's clear that some are adamantly opposed. It doesn't look like the dissention within the Board has gone away after three resignations.

Some of us tried to make the Sunday meeting an open meeting for all members of CFI but that plan met with firm resistance from the Directors.

New Associate Members
There's general agreement that we need new Associate Members. Several people have sent in applications. New members have to be approved by the Board of Directors. They will discuss this at the Sunday meeting.

The rebranding exercise is on hold, and so is everything else.


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  2. I'm not a member, but I'll have a go at speculating anyway. The first problem would be that, as has been said many times before, organising atheists and skeptics is rather like trying to herd cats, it's never been easy. This would be even more difficult in Canada, where we have traditionally been more liberal and open-minded, so those of us who fit in the CFI demographic don't tend to feel too persecuted or ignored, two things that are significant motivators. I read an article recently which correlated atheistic militancy with the religiosity of a society; it was lowest in those societies in which atheists are more able to participate and freely express their philosophy. The recent swing to the right in Canada and Toronto would perhaps motivate people to act, but that would also be a source of confusion as people who never before felt a reason to act suddenly tried to figure out what they should start doing, when, and how. Transition frequently begets upheaval, it's only to be expected. The main problem is not the situation, but how it is handled, and it doesn't appear as if things are going smoothly. In what is mostly a volunteer organisation you'll have all sorts of people who aren't used to organising and planning, leadership must not only be strong but occasionally authoritarian, which runs against the grain for a lot of those who gravitate toward such a philosophy.

    Dave Bailey

  3. There's the new office location at 2 College right? I'm guessing that there's not any kind of space there for meeting. But if I were to walk in there, there would be someone (presumably Michael Payton) working there right?