Emotions Overrule Rationality at CFI: Canada

This post was written by Katie and originally published on Teen Skepchick. For more on the recent issues facing CFI: Canada, see Skepchick Natalie’s report on the short-lived CFI initiative Resonable Women.

There has been a lot of talk on the blog-o-sphere about the Center for Inquiry Canada and the unfortunate fall apart of its fractured board and fractured supporters.

CFI: Canada was founded in 2007 by Justin Trottier. With the help of his friends, family and a couple very large donors Justin created an organization that was having events daily, doing community development, opened branches across Canada and was having regular major media attention (including having a representative of CFI:Canada on a pretty popular television show weekly). My own background with it… I started as a media girl, ended up being the Executive Director for Ontario, ran the Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign with CFI and FAC and have also been a pretty loud voice against Justin and some of the bat-shit crazy stuff he thinks are good, so I have my biases here (I also met my fiance at CFI:Canada). I’m emotional about the issue and have a lot of information about the group.

What are they fractured over? To me it has to do a lot with grassroots vs. professionalism. Here’s the story as I know it…and it’s a long one, folks!

The Canadian Crew at CFI Transnational

Despite being successful at making CFI:Canada the leading venue in Canada for issues of atheism, humanism, skepticism…etc. Justin started catching some flak from long standing volunteers. He was called the “pope” of atheism by Ian Bushfield because CFI:Canada had become run pretty much…entirely by him lacking democratic process. (Justin was a bit of an authoritarian ruler.) So Justin, not knowing it would be his imminent demise in doing so, appointed a board of directors to run CFI:Canada.

The board consisted of some pretty professional people (Carol Parlow, Ian McCuaig, Ron Lindsay and Michael Gardiner) and some grassroots people (Kevin Smith, Lorne Trottier, Derek Rogers and Pat O’Brien). The board was good to go, at first. They agreed to start getting CFI:Canada on track with ‘nitty gritty’ details like starting to do the finance correctly, cleaning up the space, doing some branding work and amping up the fundraising efforts.

Earlier this year Justin decided to run for the Green Party of Canada. Since this is a direct conflict with charity law (you can’t mix politics and charity here in Canada, not sure about the US of A) Justin was put on a temporary leave of absence until the campaign was over and Derek Pert took his place. Derek is a very different person than Justin. Justin can be described as firey, active and passionate. Derek can be described as professional, tidy and detail oriented – definitely not an activist. But this is what CFI:Canada needed, someone to get all the paperwork, donors and volunteers in line and to make a system that was sustainable for future growth.

This is where it gets tricky, fuzzy and confusing.

While Justin was out doing his thing with the GOP the board began uncovering things about Justin’s time at CFI and one of them (who is a law student) began to see that… “Holy crap batman! We are all liable for all this really bad stuff that he did!” … What kind of bad stuff? Well, I can only guess, but from my experience working there as Ontario Director I would say… improper bookkeeping, personal banking interfering with business banking (not maliciously or intentionally, just out of pure lack of understanding), charity paperwork not being done correctly… Not to mention Justin’s frequent diversion into Men’s Rights Activism (using CFI contacts to promote this issue that many CFI-ers do NOT support… and think it is a determent to women in the/who want to join the movement to have to deal with someone who is so vocal about this) and consistently blurring the lines between charity and politics.

Well – Justin was fired permanently. At a vote of 5-2-2 (Justin’s uncle and Kevin Smith voted against it, while the CFI:Transnational representation abstained).

That when I started getting phone calls.

I used to be an active member of this group, and remain friends with a lot of people involved… so they wanted to talk to me about it. This is when I started to see the two sides emerge.

The Grassroots:

A close friend of mine called me up to let me know what is going on, he also happens to be on the board and is actually an avid Justin supporter. He thought that there was a crusade against Justin happening and that it needed to stop because Justin is too good for the organization to be kicked out of it.

Apparently the new director told Justin that CFI:Canada would no longer have any communication with him what-so-ever because he had been consistently bothering the board and Derek (the new director) about rejoining CFI in some capacity. From what I understand they first told Justin to just wait a little while… but Justin couldn’t wait and kept pressing so they cut him off.

At this point in the story I was pretty pissed off! Justin is an overall good thing for CFI:Canada, how could they do this?!

So I called Justin and he asked me to write a letter of support. However, I’m not one to jump on the wagon without knowing the other side. Luckily another board member contacted me, this time someone from the “other side”.

The Professional:

As it turned out the board was indeed worried about being liable for some of the stuff going on and there was a legitimate vote for dismissing Justin. The board saw it best to distance itself from someone who has a pretty bad track record and to start rebuilding CFI as a more professional organization, just like CFI:Transnational did. They had to move away from the grassroots to continue their success.

Justin throwing darts at one of early CFI parties

So now I was less pissed off. Still upset that the founder of this organization had been booted, but now I understood why. Content with that information I went back to my school work, until a few days ago when I got a FB message from 5 different people involved.

Key volunteers were starting to question the board about Justin’s dismissal, the lack of events going on in the centre and the new decision to do less community work. The board is caught in a bit of a bind here – because they can’t really come out and say exactly what is going on because there are privacy issues and in Canada it is illegal to openly tell everyone why you fired an employee, so they can’t come out and tell everyone about Justin’s shortcomings and unprofessional business ethic. They issued a few public statements, trying to calm the crowd, about creating a new vision and regular programming commencing soon, but that didn’t satisfy the grassroots, emotional activists.

Apparently… Justin took a bunch of crazy pills and flew into a tizzy. He started rallying support from friends and colleagues to start a phone tree to ask scripted questions about Justin’s dismissal occupying hours of Derek’s time. He also had people writing letters to support him. His uncle, who is on the board, began bribing the charity saying that he would give a $100K donation to CFI:Canada *IF* Justin was reinstated (gross and corrupt, right?).

Well Derek couldn’t handle this and on the 23th of November the best thing to happen to CFI:Canada in a long time… resigned. The following day 3 members of the board (who are on the “professional” side of this) also resigned due to constant conflict between board members. (By the sounds of things they were exchanging MANY e-mails a day between one another that were hostile in language – at least some of the ones I’ve read were…) So the professional side lost because the grassroots were too emotional, pushy and time consuming for people who have real jobs.

The board issued a letter explaining the changes and saying that Michael Payton is the new interim director (also a men’s rights activist and who I think is sort of questionable in character).

Also, recently there have been more resignations by key volunteers and Vancouver community leaders (including their director) who have decided to step down. CFI:Canada is losing its key volunteer base, this will be a hard one to bounce back from.

Me talking at a CFI:Canada event

It’s all very sad. CFI:Canada was the leading voice for scepticism and science education here in Canada and now it is hardcore shooting it’s self in the foot. Who wants to be involved with an organization that won’t heed the advice of the professionals on its board? If CFI:Canada is ever audited by the government I think there will be really big problems revealed. If Justin is reinstated onto the board than the last few months of pain have been totally wasted… and I say this as someone who sees the value in Justin’s work and consider myself his friend. CFI needs a leader like Derek who can keep shit together, but a voice like Justin who can be heard and fight the good fight.

Grassroots vs. professionalism – they have managed to work together in many places, but it seems like the freethought movement of Canada isn’t willing to do that… which, to me, means large failures for the movement. Without a board that can work together, volunteers that aren’t rallying against their own organization and board members who aren’t corrupt than CFI:Canada has a very sad future ahead of it.

*EDIT*: All of the information here was obtained from various blogs across the interwebz, talking to board members and personal experience. Specifically the allegation about Lorne Trottier bribing the board was made public by former board member Ian McCuaig.

*EDIT*: From Natalie, 7:45 pm PDT, 11/30/2011- Just a quick correction. The article states that Kevin Smith and Lorne Trottier voted against Justin Trottier’s dismissal. I’ve been informed that there were no votes against. The actual votes were 6 in favour, 1 abstention and 2 absent.

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  1. Oy, what a cluster fuck! If i had a vote it would be for the professionalism and against anyone and anything tainted with MRA crap. But since I don’t have a vote I’ll just hope that something good and positive can arise from the ashes of this self destruction whether it be under the banner of CFI or a new organization upholding the best of skepticism.

    1. See, this is why I simply teach my children and their friends that a fun material life is much more fun than a restrictive “spiritual” one.

      The grassroots message that it’s more fun to party and chase your dreams than to live by 4000 year old rules really catches on with the youth these days.

  2. FYI: CFI Canada is a separate organization than CFI. I know they have the same name and logo, but CFI has no control over what CFI Canada does or vice versa.

    1. In fact – from what it sounds like… the reps from Transnational that are on the Canada board seem to sort of sit back and let the Canadians do their thing, as well.

  3. So they replaced one MRA guy with another? Sounds like something that would totally get more women involved in the organization.

  4. At least it’s interesting to follow? I’m glad I’m not as involved with CFI Canada as I was for a while.

    I’m not sure I’d qualify the grassroots vs. professional conflict quite that way. I know a lot of the more peripheral people, who are involved with CFI but not necessarily a part of its structure, were keeping their distance from a combination of concern over the MRA stuff as well as being put off a bit by the fairly corporate atmosphere in CFI (at least in TO).

    But then, I’m not sure if my experience is representative, and Katie’s got a perspective that isn’t really available by campus or community people less centrally involved. I wish I knew more about how things were with CFI Vancouver – it seems as though they had stronger ties with TO and more people involved on a day-to-day basis.

    It is hard to imagine CFI without Justin, given how central he’s been to building and sustaining it. People can and should dismiss his MRA views, but finding someone as able to network, media manage, and promote as him won’t be easy.

  5. Maybe I still don’t understand the extent of how obnoxious MRA folks are (capital letters!), but it is distinctly chilly in here for a man. What men’s rights are we allowed to talk about on these boards? Or is it just assumed that men have it good so we shouldn’t raise issues? I kind of feel like I’m going to get dog-piled and labeled a radical woman-hater if I complain about any inequity men face.

    1. I was actually involved with Justin and Michael’s MRA project when it initially started. I was under the impression it would be a blog/podcast that would emphasizes issues for men and women.. Because I really do think there are serious men’s issues (custody, body image issues… etc) but then it turned into a feminist hating thing, which I am totally not into.

    2. How is it in any way “distinctly chilly” for men here? We have male contributors, and quite a few regular male commenters. They somehow don’t find it chilly here!

      Additionally, feminism also includes the rights of men. Haven’t you ever heard, “Sexism hurts men, too!” ?

      But, yeah, I’m really tired of the fact that, whenever anyone ever speaks about the problems that women face, and especially in regards to sexism, we always get, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?”

      Happens every time. And hey, it even happened here, already! Surprise!

    3. Well eh, I don’t like the term “Men’s rights” because there’s not much discrimination that holds us back in society (unlike women which are DEFINITELY openly & subtly discriminated against). The term really should be “men’s issues”, because although men don’t face much discrimination, we do have a lot of issues (higher suicide rates, single fatherhood, etc.)

      Also, Marilove is right, greater equality for women helps men too. Like the ability to earn dual household incomes, getting a greater talent pool in the workforce, more female customers etc. Personally the women in my company make me lots of money because we make online content and they understand our female demographic (which accounts for 70% of our revenue).

      Or for instance, as one of my female skeptic friends put it “In open societies where women are given parity & sexual freedom, everyone seems to be getting laid and having a grand ol’ time. In societies where women are openly oppressed, everyone seems to be having a lot less fun”.

    4. You know, if you reverse the genders in that comment, it neatly describes how it feels to be an outspoken woman VIRTUALLY EVERYWHERE.

      1. Reversed for Reference:

        Well eh, I don’t like the term “Women’s rights” because there’s not much discrimination that holds them back in society (unlike men which are DEFINITELY openly & subtly discriminated against). The term really should be “women’s issues”, because although women don’t face much discrimination, they do have a lot of issues (higher depression rates, single motherhood, etc.)

        Also, Richard Dawkins is right, greater equality for men helps women. Like the ability to earn dual household incomes, getting a greater talent pool in the workforce, more male customers etc. Personally the men in my company make me lots of money because we make online content and they understand our male demographic (which accounts for 70% of our revenue).

        Or for instance, as one of my male skeptic friends put it “In open societies where men are given the ability to direct societal affairs, relationships and sex goes much better. In societies where women are too open, men are embattled and emasculated by complaining women and no one is happy”.

      2. Oh, I completely agree Zen. I made the comment with that in mind. I didn’t bring it up Marilove, the article and the comments before me did. Also, just because men post doesn’t mean that I can’t feel it’s chilly (I generally don’t). I was just wondering where the line was exactly because, well, I don’t fully understand the history of the MRA folks or their history on this site. I don’t really care to get into comment wars for stating opinions that people conflate with stances other people have taken (as happened with the vegetarian hoopla).

    5. The MRA groups split in two over the issue of feminism. Justin’s Men’s Rights activism leans towards the anti-feminist side.

    1. The Crazy Cogs youtube channel has done some humorous readings of The Nice Guys forum (a deeply misogynist forum). Here’s one of them:

  6. Also, FYI, feminism covers men’s rights too, by pointing out issues of gender privilege, stereotype, etc.

    For example, custody. There’s a bias towards giving women custody of children, even in the absence of abuse, after a divorce. Feminism is no fan of this, because it assumes women are inherently better parents than fathers.

    However, MRAs tend to assume this is just another example of how feminism has ruined modern society by allowing women to get kids from dudes and then force those dudes to pay for them too.

    1. Custody-bias also assumes women are by nature better suited for domesticity than men, which is a *classic* form of misogyny that has long been critiqued by feminism. Any act of gender-essentializing, whether it superficially harms men or women the most, will inevitably be harmful towards both.

      It’s shocking to me the degree to which MRAs will actually blame feminists for such forms of binary sexism when feminism has clearly been fighting against it for decades and has done so much good for breaking down those assumptions. As though feminism created the issue of gender inequality and assumptions about men and women are like. As though those inequities and assumptions haven’t existed for centuries. As though they haven’t actually begun to be overcome in the decades since feminism became a strong and viable movement.

      1. Yes, this.

        If nothing else, I’m glad feminism has helped open up space for guys like me who don’t feel comfortable in traditional masculine roles. And I don’t understand how they don’t see this, that feminism gives more space for people to be who they want.

        Greta Christina had a couple good posts on how feminism helps men, IIRC.

      2. If the ideological goal here is to promote gender equality, then from a marketing perspective, wouldn’t it be more accurate to name the movement/idealism something that is gender/sex neutral?

        Fuck men’s rights. Fuck feminism. I know I am smart enough to distinguish what people mean when they say they support either, but I am not so sure the common denominator of society is able to tell the difference. And this common denominator of society will often go off and do stupid sexist shit in the name of either men/feminism and act like they are entitled to be assholes.

        Why hasn’t either tried to rebrand themselves?

  7. How unethical is it that the blog you linked to, “The Good Atheist,” written by Zak, did not disclose he was the policy advisor for Justin’s campaign in his blog or podcast when he was talking up Justin and slamming CFI Canada?

  8. Er – Zak writes for Canadian Atheist, not The Good Atheist. Did you mean Jacob Fortin? Zak also didn’t really author most of the CFI posts lately on Canadian Atheist, though he’s obviously commented on them.

    And on the “Half Truths and Scandals” post there, Ian wrote “It is worth noting that Zak was Justin’s policy advisor for the campaign (again, none of us are impartial).”

  9. You are absolutely right. My husband kind of screwed me over by misinforming me. Be skeptical… even with your spouse! Although the article was completely biased, written by a Justin fanboy.

  10. Oh yeah, I agree.

    I’d call myself one of those people who admire the work Justin’s done, and has enjoyed a beer with him, while being put off by his socio-politics and thinking CFI would be better moving forward without him being its face.

  11. I don’t understand why CFIC doesn’t just split the responsibilities between the two. Make Justin the Director of Communications and Outreach and Derek the CFO, or whatever the appropriate titles would be.

    I checked out Justin’s site ages ago and I agree with somethings but disagree with more, but the biggest problem is that it links to batsh*t crazy conspiracy nonsense, and I think Justin should be taken to task for [i]that[/i] as it’s really bad skepticism, and as the head of CFIC, that makes him, and CFIC, look hypocritical.

    I’m female, and a feminist, but I went to college in the late 90’s and even I was put off by a lot of what I heard in feminist circles and from profs. Maybe gender studies have changed a lot in the past decade, I don’t know, I’m not in college anymore, but I can completely understand some men having a strong aversion to the title “feminist,” I had an aversion to it myself for a long time.

    I think many (possibly most) MRAs are misogynists, but feminsim has had it’s very outspoken misandrysts (Dworkin, etc.) as well. I think that seeming to try to quash every voice for men’s rights makes us look as bad as the the type we are trying to fight, and I think that’s just bad skepticism as they may well have issues we are unaware of. And I don’t think that just telling men “Yeah, your causes are our causes, and fall under [i]our[/i] purview, so don’t worry about it, we’ve got it covered” is enough. We wouldn’t accept someone telling us that. Acting like fascists who won’t engage in dialogue and wanting to sensor dissent from the party line make us look really bad, and will only serve to legitimize their cause. We need to watch that.

    All in all I think this topic should be handled through dialogue and robust and public skepticism. I think that most men would quickly see what was a legit issue that [i]everyone[/i] should be concerned with, and what what is just anti-woman hate-mongering.

    1. Well this is why I prefer Men’s Issues. Other than the whole Custody/Divorce thing (which is NOT nearly always true) and a very small handful of other dubious issues like male teachers, etc. there no areas where men are discriminated against.

      However, that is not to say men don’t have issues, they certainly do, and those should be (and in many cases ARE being) addressed. I don’t believe feminism in general nor this group is advocating against that.

      What they are speaking out against is the people who reflexively counter & cloud any discussion of female issues with “Men’s Rights” as well as those who paint ongoing sexism as rights men should have.

      Overall, it simply sucks that when women bring women’s rights issues up in social organizations, that they are so often embattled just for bringing up the topic. This is what the group I think means when they criticize “MRA”, “mansplaining”, or “gaslighting” they are just sick of not being able to even have a dialog on the issue without such crap.

      This is what everyone is talking about when they speak about MRA – not marginalizing men’s issues.

  12. Zak is a Justin fanboy too. (And much to my dislike, in this post I am linking to, he calls FAC his “baby”… when he was always very reluctant to continue being involved with it) He posted about some of this on the 24th:

    I don’t like linking to his stuff, though… as he tends to oversimplify and never states his own bias. (AND because FAC gave him money to do a secular scholarship on canadian atheist that he never did… maybe still will but we haven’t heard anything about it)

  13. It’s a crappy situation, and there were many mistakes made on all sides. But honestly, I have faith in the people who have stayed behind. This is a huge issue and it’s going to take a lot of work for us (speaking as someone who spends way too much time volunteering for CFI-Can) to get trust back. But I do think that it’s important to note that all of this is going on at the national level. Locally, certainly in Ottawa, all this drama has had very little impact.

    And I don’t think that it’s fair to make this into a grassroots vs professional issue. It’s perfectly possible to be both, and no one involved fits all that neatly into one or the other.

    Anyways, my point is that this isn’t a reason to give up on CFI-Can, much less the local branches.

  14. Yeah, men are really repressed here in Toronto. Their wives and girlfriends force them to wear full on burqa’s everytime they’re out in public… /rolls eyes.

    …they should really rename themselves Men’s Redundancy Association. Not because males are redundant, but their advocacy of their rights has been redundant long before Confederation. So along with the arguement of straight pride parades, one can’t be seen to advocate for something one already has, unless one is looking for something more. Just saying.

    Anywhoose…this is not the topic of converstion, but more side /facepalm observation. But I am sorry to hear about this organization’s implosion. It sucks where when the proper way of doing things and the support of rationalism is overtaken by the occult of a personality. And if they’re are still bickering away about it, this will be one I’ll stay away from even being so close to home. :(

  15. I really hope they can sort this out soon. As a recent CFI Canada member, I hope they sort this out soon. They just started a branch in little old Halifax and it seems to be the only game in town. The Randi tour seemed to be very successful. I’d hate to lose that momentum.

  16. @Utakata – I really don’t have a side in this whole CFI debate, but Justin’s main focus was on “equalism activism” as a better term for “feminism” (since feminism implies that it’s only for women, while equalism makes it clear that the goals of feminism actually help everyone).

    As far as my personal conversations with Justin have gone, his goals and ideas about “equalism activism” have always seemed totally legitimate, and he’s been supportive of my overt never-shave-my-legs feminism. I’ve heard through other people that he’s written/said some things that cross the line into MRA territory, but I haven’t seen that myself so I really can’t speak to it. But generally, he’s talked about things like mothers being automatically given primary custody of kids rather than any kind of oppression in the burka sense.

    I really wouldn’t avoid CFI just because of this. Whatever is going on at the leadership level, the branches are continuing and the programming is excellent (again, speaking mostly for Ottawa, but I’m sure that programming will resume in Toronto shortly). There’s a lot of amazing people who come out to events, and the events themselves tend to be quite interesting.

    1. The following is from the Equalism Activism blog that, according to Wikipedia, Justin Trottier uses as his personal blog.

      The highlights are mine.

      We believe in equalism, not equity(huh?). Provide people equal opportunities, be they atheists and theists, secularists and religious, or men and women; groups should not be subject to social engineering meant to enforce equality of results or systematically bias our neutral public spaces.

      This blog is dedicated to the defense of those seemingly all powerful in our society(wha?):

      1) Scientists: pioneering inquirers, denigrated as arrogant elitists,

      2) Rationalists: searching for truth with openness and fallibility, lambasted by the postmodern left and the religious right

      3) Secularists: striving to maintain church-state separation, squeezed between religious accommodationists and multicultural ideologues,

      4) Men: who die younger and are at greater risk of the top ten causes of death, suffer legal biases against fathers, are denounced in the media, are greater victims of violent crime, yet portrayed as universally privileged

      We speak for those groups supposedly invulnerable to slander(again wha?)…not because we believe in censorship and wish to silence our critics. Just the opposite. Because we believe in the most uncompromising freedom of expression. So we’re going to say some things that need to be said.

      While he might not come across that way in person, the highlighted passages are problematic. I seriously have to question what the hell this entire manifesto means actually. I think he is trying to say that these groups should be invulnerable from slander (whatever the hell that means) but aren’t. In a perfect world we wouldn’t need “social engineering meant to enforce equality of results”; unfortunately we live in this world, one that is far from perfect and social engineering is one of the few tools we have to address wrongs.

      So, yeah according to his own blog he sounds like he leans rather MRMish. Sorry.

      1. You read Justin’s wiki page? I feel a bit guilty because I’m been putting off going through that thing. There’s quite a bit of work that needs to be done. So sorry that it’s only like half done.

        1. No no, I only got the info that he uses his Equalism Activism blog as his personal blog.
          The mission statement (what I incorrectly called a manifesto) comes from there.
          Sorry for any misunderstanding.

    2. But the point is that “mothers being automatically given primary custody of kids rather” is not oppression for example, but rather sign I suspect of an anitiquated justice system likely spurred on by mothers carrying most of responsibility in regards to pregnancy, that needs to be debated out on all sides. Unequal perhaps. Oppression most certainly not. But I also suspect Trottier is likely using that as a wedge issue to further his cause of “equalism activism”.

      And this is where I have an issue with it, because “equalism activism” sounds like a euphemism to cover more unpopular notion he’s advocating men’s rights (read: doublespeak). And mrmisconception’s posting of Trottier’s manifesto from Wikipedia above me strongly suggest that’s what it’s about. If that’s so, then my only response to “equalism activism” is “balderdash”.

      Now putting that aside, is there an atheist/skeptic/humanist organization in my area of Toronto that doesn’t come with mansplaining baggage, cult personalities, or any other socially dysfunctional issues that want to make me hurl? I just want to be with people that can progressively reason and yet be reasonable, without having me to move to California to get it.

      1. //Now putting that aside, is there an atheist/skeptic/humanist organization in my area of Toronto that doesn’t come with mansplaining baggage, cult personalities, or any other socially dysfunctional issues that want to make me hurl?//

        Yeah honestly this is why I don’t participate in skeptic societies. Each one I’ve been in succumbs to something very dumb after a while.

        I’ve started instead to participate in groups which are built around open-minded ideas like (as one example). Most people I meet there are atheist/agnostic.

    3. “since feminism implies that it’s only for women, while equalism makes it clear that the goals of feminism actually help everyone):

      Men have been the primary focus of EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE, since the beginning of fucking time.

      Heaven forbid we focus on women, who have been discriminated against SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME.

  17. I’ve been on three non profit boards and I was the president of the last one I was on for six years. I’m happily done with non profit boards for now but I have learned a few things during my years of involvement.

    1. Organizational goals always trump your personal shit.
    2. Everything is always open and above board every single time.
    3. No $henanigans!

  18. “While Justin was out doing his thing with the GOP”

    You mean GPO right? GOP is the nick-name for the American Republican party.

  19. Do you have any more information about the resignations in Vancouver? As I understand it, the Executive Director has NOT resigned. Sonia Milbrandt has stepped down, and some senior volunteers like Natalie Nikolaeva have resigned (largely in response to the Reasonable Women kerfuffle), but it doesn’t seem like we’re in *too* much trouble over here. I’m also not sure the CFI Van issues are necessarily related to the national issues. It’s just sort of a bad, icky coincidence that these problems have been occurring at the same time.

    1. Katie’s based in Toronto so she doesn’t know too much of what’s happening here in Vancouver – except from what she hears from me.

      Jamie Williams has resigned as ED of CFI Vancouver. His last official day will be Friday (by which point he hopes to have most of his duties cleared up for whoever takes over). While you’d have to talk to Jamie to get his full story (find him on Facebook or contact me for his email address), I believe he felt that with Derek and the “pro-reform” board members gone that the rebranding process was in jeopardy and that CFI would not be moving to a more credible, professional, and effective organization. Again, contact Sonia for her full story, but she had been frustrated with the drama in CFI and was mainly staying on board to support Jamie who she saw as bringing some of that professionalism to Vancouver.

      I don’t know what will become of CFI Vancouver. The blood drive is ending and the book club will likely be on hiatus. On the other hand, I will be taking this opportunity to build the BC Humanist Association and will likely be launching a new book club and blood drive (among other activities designed to build the freethought community).

      Full Disclosure: Sonia Milbradt is my wife and we co-ran the CFI Book Club. Jamie’s also a good friend of mine.

      1. I’m based in Vancouver, and I also know Jamie, so that’s why I’m a little surprised I didn’t hear anything until just now. I guess I’m sort of out of the loop.

    2. The Reasonable Women kerfuffle was a matter of bad timing, although the questions raised by it likely prompted some volunteers to take a closer look at how CFI Canada is run and they realized it was a pretty opaque organization.

      Put it all together and its just a bad season for CFI Vancouver. The community will survive though – there’s a lot of volunteer strength here, I’m not worried.

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