Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Toronto Humane Society Elections and AGM

Blast from the past, Tim Trow and his slate REJECTED by Toronto Humane Society, Vote of Confidence In Current Board to Continue Direction

Toronto Humane Society has finally turned a corner and can be trusted to be stable again. Tremendous vote of confidence in current strategic direction and a re-energized membership bodes well for the future. Hey Toronto! Animals in need are now 'Guests in Our Home' and Not Prison Inmates!

Kate Hammer of the Globe and Mail, whose brilliant investigatory pieces over a year ago wrote:

"The state of animal welfare in this city is at a crossroads as the membership of the Toronto Humane Society decides whether to continue the changes brought about by its new leaders or to support another comeback for former president Tim Trow" Link to full article

At a meeting where the amazing in person showing up of a large proportion of the THS membership has not been the norm, the Annual General Meeting started about an hour late while meeting staff and coordinators struggled to find adequate seating for the people, many of them elderly, There were overflow rooms to the overflow rooms. (I estimate 300+ people there)

AT the start of the meeting portion for the election of the 5 available seats on the 15 member board, the independent elections official (Grant) told everyone that as of the Monday May30 5pm deadline for submission of proxies:

* 741 proxies received
*  30 were deemed spoiled (incorrectly filled out, mostly not signed)
* 521 proxies were directed to the current board chair to vote for the recommended slate
* 183 proxies were directed to Tim Trow and his slate
*   7 other individual proxies held by others
* 271 in attendance would would be voting in person

Actual attendance was higher, I estimate about 300+, because many of those who had sent in proxies wanted to be there to see how the vote went. Engagement! As well, assuming the 1800 members list was correct, 50-80% of the THS society Voted!!! (* 80% is My guesstimate, as many people on the membership list have home addresses in the Yukon, BC, Halifax, etc). Bare minimum voter turnout would be 57% if everyone on the membership list is valid (To be a voting member, youmust live or work within 60km of 11 River Street) 

(Side note: I happened to be around when Tim Trow was signing in and said he had some additional 70+ proxies in his hand, but no proxies were being accepted past the pre-published deadline.This was consistently applied to all people who might be bringing in proxies at that time)

The meeting was slightly raucous as pro-Trow people were routinely booed and anyone expressing the slightest anti-Trow sentiments were accorded a heroic applause. Yes, there was some rudeness and attempted shouting down of pro-Trow speakers, but the President and Chair consistently reminded that everyone was to be accorded civility and respect.

However, one gentleman was so over the top shouting that he was ejected by Police.

Good points and questions were raised by all in the rooms and accorded reasonable respect.
All questions were answered, no one was barred from asking or saying anything.

(One lady made a point of telling everyone they should be ashamed at their behaviour; in my humble opinion, I thought 99% of people were well behaved, given the emotional nature of the meeting for many: staff, volunteers, and members and the intense media buildup around Tim Trow's attempted return)
....    So, who got elected?  The entire board recommended slate. A clean sweep.

* David Bronskill (skilled lawyer in municipal law matters)
* Lisa Gibbens (informations systems, marketing)
* Carol Hroncek (longtime volunteer, cat rescuer)
* Crystal Tomusiak (criminal law background, animal welfare enthusiast)
* Ken Wood  (hey! that's me! community social justice activist, has been on Daily Bread Food Bank and Mainstay Housing boards)

News Story Links:

* Update June 1,2011:
Here is  one impression of the meeting by someone who was there:

I attended the General Meeting at THS last night I am not involved much with their issues and don't know the full story however I was curious to see what was going on. I will tell you that I have never seem such a farce in my life. The patients definitely are running the asylum It doesn't matter if you are pro or con Tim Trow because that is incidental to my point. However if Mother Theresa were running for the THS Board of Directors she would never have gotten in. Votes were padded by employees who screamed and yelled and carried on worse than the animals they are supposed to be looking after. People were shoved and insulted. One man was escorted out by police because he stood up and screamed the election was unfair. No one could make a fair choice because the THS supporters who wanted their own people in would not let others talk. You could not hear anyone for all the heckling and insults being thrown at anyone who was not the favored choice of the present Board. I will never ever be associated with this organization again. Many of us who are civilized, walked out of there in total shock after witnessing this whole debacle. Not only was it shocking, it was extremely upsetting to see anyone acting out in the manner they did. God help our animals because there are unbalanced people looking after them. (Posted on this link: )

.... And here is my personal impression and response:

I sincerely believe this post is probably from a pro-Tim Trow supporter seeking to find anything redeeming about him in light of the abuses documented on the public record ( Link HERE ).

Yes, the meeting was slightly raucous as pro-Trow people were routinely booed and anyone expressing the slightest anti-Trow sentiments were accorded a heroic applause. Yes, there was some rudeness and attempted shouting down of pro-Trow speakers, but the President and Chair consistently reminded that everyone was to be accorded civility and respect. Differences in opinion were valid but respect for all was defended and encouraged at all times.

It must be understood that much of the rudeness came from employee and volunteers who suffered terrible personal abuse and trauma under the reign of Tim Trow. Think what it would be like if a rapist was permitted to make speeches to his victims... Important: I am NOT not not not not intimating Tim was guilty of that, I simply am trying to draw a parallel for the sake of understanding the emotional duress those people were under. As well many of them were young, unfamiliar with the formalities of public meetings and for many, it was the very first time they could be heard by the membership and able to call Mr Trow on his version of the truth.

The one gentleman who was ejected by Police was protesting that people outside the overflow room on the patio could not hear the speakers (microphone acoustics were not great). A fair comment. The problem was that even after he was acknowledged, thanked and the problem rectified, he continued to shout down (not-pro-Tim-Trow) speakers and be loudly abusive and threatening. The disruption to the meeting continued until he was ejected for disruption of the proceedings by Police.

Given the experience of past AGM's, no one could have predicted such an in-person turnout of such magnitude. 271 in attendance, where in past it was very rare to get more than 80 or so people there. The majority of the membership exercised their legal right to vote via proxies. In the past, Tim Trow would appear with 700-800 proxies in hand and subsequently ignore those 80 or so present, waving them when challenged or asked a question - which as he ran the meetings as Chair and President in the past, meant he was able to totally ignore valid questions about finances, etc. from members in the room.

Now - THAT was rude, uncivil, disrespectful and it was in the past that "The patients definitely are running the asylum", the chief patient being Mr Tim Trow himself.

- Ken Wood - newly elected Director to the board of the Toronto Humane Society