Friday, March 14, 2008

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for...

I was contacted today by CTV news because someone must have told them about my blog post about having my membership to the NS SPCA reviewed. And I'd like to point that out - I did NOT contact CTV - they contacted ME. In the news report Judith Gass makes it sound like I contacted the media - it was the other way around - and there were a ton of questions that the reporter asked me that I said - "I'd like to not answer that question if that's okay" - I only wanted to talk about the topic at hand - my blog post - not about all the other stuff that's been going on in the message boards and other vitriole flying around about the Executive of the NS SPCA.

Which is another thing I'd like to talk about for a second if you will humour me. I guess one of the problems with having a blog - a website where I post to almost every day with the goings on of my dogs and me and the things that happen to us - is that people start to think that they actually KNOW me, and can make judgments on my character. That they can somehow DEFINE me, put me into a slot, and feel comfortable leaving me there so that THEY can feel comfortable when DEALING WITH ME. But I'd like to say to that - defining a human being is a little bit harder than that. You can't define a person based on one aspect of their character. And there may be a lot of people who share the same qualities of character - but there are a million different SHADES of that character type - so it's impossible to pigeon-hole anybody. So if you are a person who thinks you KNOW me, and that you've been forced to DEAL with me in some way - I am here to tell you - that you have given yourself any unncessary job. My dogs take quite good care of me, as you can tell from this blog. At least that part of the blog is truthful.

So on to the video portion of this post - CTV contacted me today to talk about my post that I made my membership being in jeopardy, which is weird, seeing as how the NS SPCA is currently having a membership drive - below is the news portion that was on CTV tonight - I hope you enjoy it!


  1. Anonymous10:35 PM

    Great job in the press joan.

    Heather Morrison

  2. Anonymous12:29 AM

    I missed the news and couldnt' get your video to work. :(

  3. Anonymous12:50 AM

    Joan, I agree with your opinions about each person having various shades of their personality being represented by different aspects of themselves and how each individual may view them.

    I also wanted to mention, that although I don't always agree with everything you write, I believe, whole-heartedly what you post on your blog is something you are passionate about and you have good intentions. They may be right. They may be wrong. Or perhaps not so black & white. But I think the most important aspect of all of this, and keep this mind folks, is that with your blog you are providing another stream of information- more accessibility to many (like myself) who wouldn't be in the know of various activities in the dog community. With the information you provide, I make my own judgement whether something is right or wrong in my own opinion.

    I would like to thank you for providing information to the public. Your opinion is an interesting read also, but rarely weighs much on my final opinion on various topics you post.

    Best, joe

  4. Anonymous12:51 AM

    Man, is Judith Gass always so squirrelly? What a strange interview she gave. If she thinks she did the cause any good with that performance, well ...

    Well done Joan and Janet.

  5. Anonymous11:13 AM


    I find it abhorent that Judith Gass takes your blog comments so seriously that she thinks your membership should be revoked.

    I would think a Board Member would be interested in the concerns you have and would want to address them appropriately instead of just dismissing you and revieing/revoking your membership.

    It makes me assume she must be hiding something! If she wasn't why wouldn't she just answer any questions she recieves or address any criticism if there is no subterfuge to cover up.

    She had an opportunity in the PRESS tonight to address public concerns and chose not to!

    I am concerned about the people who donate to the SPCA whether it be in time or financially. These people should be able to ask questions about how that money is spent and the worthwhileness of their assistance. They should get answers. It shouldn't be looked at as destructive or abject.

    If I am going to donate my time and energy to the society I want to make sure my time and money is being used in a way I think supports the mandate of the society. It is the mandate and objectives of the society that have drawn my support. I want my efforts to be aiding the mandate. The only way I can make sure of that is by following the actions of the Board of Directors. If I can't ask the board of Directors what is going on without the fear of reprisal or the revoking of membership what is the point of being involved? It also makes me seriously concerned about what they are hiding!!!!!!!!!

    Instead of poo pooing you and revoking or reviewing your membership they should be accountable to you as an active member who does what they can to support this society and it's objectives.

    Judith Gass made some comment in that news broadcast that people should be asking the Board what is going on instead of talking in public forums and on blogs. Is that woman STUPID? Why after this , would ANYONE, who wants to support the animals associated with the SPCA, SPEAK UP! Really! Seriously this would be a detriment to being able to help the animals in the SPCA care because your membership would be put under review for revoking!


    Judith Gass and Pam Keddy, in my opinion, are HARMING the ability to help the animals associated with the SPCA.

    A motion has been put forward to the BOD by registered mail and signed by two members - one of which whose membership has been revoked and the other who has had their abilities to support the SPCA highly curtailed and is awaiting revoking of his/her membership at a March 31st meeting of the board. I will be highly suspect of the actions of Judith Gass and Pam Keddy if this motion is not allowed to move forward and if memberships of people who have vocally supported the intention of this motion are removed as members before the AGM.

    The public should be able to intrust their funds to a charitable society which the SPCA is. If we can't question or get answers from that society then a review into the charitable status of that society should be called. Where are our public dollars going? If THIS happens Judith Gass and Pam Keddy will be responsible if the society loses charitable status because of their actions..or inaction.

    This is all so bloody disheartening for the SPCA which in itself and lots of hard working people in it..are going to end up taking the fall...especially the animals..because of two people with egos!

    Joan, well done! Keep talking, blogging etc. Keep asking the questions!

    Here is the kicker. I am posting this anonymously for fear of having my membership revoked!!!!!

    How ironic is that!

  6. Heh Joan -

    because You Tube will not have the actual footage up for long - I thought that you could have the transcript per se here... Janet

    Steve Murphy opened up and said:

    SM " well some very public criticism is tonight being leveled at the SPCA for the way it handled the high profile seizure of pets from a Cape Breton animal shelter. Those animals were removed last month from squalid conditions at the Celtic Pets Rescues. But some SPCA members who have spoken out about this case say their membership are now under review and the Society admits it will not condone what it calls destructive dissent. CTV's Elizabeth Chiu as the story tonight>>>"

    Shows Joan outside with her dogs...

    EC: Joan Sinden owns 4 dogs including Daisy who she adopted from Zonda MacIssac's Celtic Pet Rescue 4 years ago. That shelter was raided by the SPCA last month and 100 cats and dogs in poor conditions were seized.

    Joan sitting at her table - byline says BLOGGER

    JS: "I cannot condone any of what she did to any of the animals"

    EC: Sinden recently welcomed Jack into her home. Last month he was one of the 25 animals taken from Alice MacIssac’s home, Zonda MacIssac's mother.

    Two high profile seizures yet after a month and a half still no charges. Sinden asked why on her online diary.

    JS:" When things are not done properly I guess you could call that critical"

    EC: The pointed public questioning was followed by a letter in the mail. Sinden found out her membership was being reviewed. The letter says members must abide by the objectives of the Society.

    Then JG at the Shelter patting cats.

    EC: The SPCA’s Judith Gass says the Executive has the right to review the membership of those whose criticism crosses the line. So far 3 members have had their membership revoked.

    JG:" Would be a fair question for her to contact the SPCA and ask that but if she is going to blog about it and ask the media and that probably not a fair thing to do and not in our best interest".

    EC: Janet Chernin has called for the resignation of several members of the Executive over the handling of several issues including the Celtic Pets Investigation. She said she kept the matter private until she was recently booted off of the Societies Fundraising Committee. She accuses the Society of trying to silence dissent.

    JC: “To me the SPCA now stands for the Society for the Prevention of Criticism of the Administration"

    EC: Gass says the nonprofit group made up of volunteers needs to have team players.

    JG:" so I think it is important that we do keep our eye on the ball and remember the reason we are here is to help out animals and we can't be distracted by those that might have a different agenda"

    EC: As for the criticism about the length of the investigation...

    JG" I would expect charges to be laid in the next couple of weeks"

    EC: Now Judith Gass says a handful of memberships will be reviewed at the Societies next monthly meeting. This has nothing to do with voting

    issues for the Executive because this is not a voting year.

    Clearly this disputer has created deep divisions among the people who all share a deep love of animals ... Steve...

    SM: Certainly a controversy that hasn't faded either

  7. Anonymous3:45 PM

    Don't specialist who watch interviews with people to see if they are lying say that people who can't look straight at the person or that general direction often have something there hiding. Did you notice how Judith's eyes were all over the place? Hello!!!! I apologize in advance if she has a medical condition that causes this though I doubt it.

  8. Kudos to you Joan. Do you remember the tainted blood scandal a few years ago with the (then) Red Cross? Instead of admitting mistakes, the leadership devoted so much energy to whitewashing and covering up that public respect and support for the organization was completely wiped out. Even with the name change to Canadian Blood services, that confidence has never been completely restored.
    The opportunity to effect change while this issue is in the public eye is being squandered by the well as undermining the heroic efforts at the ground level by all volunteer.
    IMHO, fear aggression is not just seen in dogs right now.

  9. Anonymous4:55 PM

    More lies and bullshit by Judith Gass. What's next?

  10. Anonymous10:30 AM

    I think you raise an important point Joan but at the same time, we need to evaluate everything based on the facts, not speculation. Although I don't agree with everything that JG has stated publicly, I do agree that the key here is for all of us to not lose sight of our common interest- helping the animals. This should always come first.

    It is obvious that both you and JC have made enormous contributions to the SPCA and that any actions on their part to deny either of you membership would be unjustified and likely contrary to the spirit of the bylaws. That said, as I understand it JC was not removed as a society member but as a fundraising committee member. And in your letter from the SPCA, it merely stated that your membership would be presented to the Board for approval. This is actually a very standard procedure. As former president of a provincial organization subject to the provincial Societies Act, I can tell you that we have similar provisions in our bylaws.

    If on the other hand, the SPCA decides to remove members simply because the latter disagree (however vocally) with the actions or policies of the society, then they run a very significant risk of stirring up more distractions from their key objective of helping animals. Such distractions may include human rights tribunal challenge and Societies Act complaints.

    The relevant sections of the bylaws are as follows. S. 12 (a) of the bylaws (2003 version)states:

    " 12.
    (a) Any Member or Branch representative may be removed for cause as a Director and Member of the Society upon resolution passed by a two-thirds majority vote of the Directors present and voting at any ordinary or special meeting of the Board.
    (b) Cause as referred to in paragraph 12(a) is intended to mean a person who in the opinion of the Board is no longer supportive of the objects of the Society, or in the opinion of the Board is so critical of the Society itself, and/or the work being performed by the Society, as to have become an adversary to the Society."

    It is the last part " adversary to the Society" which is probably the most relevant here. In my view, none of the key criticisms directed at the SPCA has been so outrageous as to constitute being an `adversary'. Indeed, the strong emotions by those involved merely reflect an intense and common love for animals. I don't agree necessarily with how this message was communicated but the essence of the criticism is fair game. (As for JC calling for resignations, I think this was a bit premature. I would wait until the facts are presented in court. Only then would we know whether sound decisions were made in a timely manner.)

    There is nothing in the Bylaws which says that you have to agree with everything they do and how they do it. All members need to do is agree (a) with the society's objectives- if anyone disagreed, the reality is that they would likely not be interested in animals at all. and (b) keep cricisms objective and directed through appropiate channels, based on facts and focused not on individuals but on policies or decisions.

    My two cents worth, Joan. I will contact you later and we can discuss this in more detail. For what it's worth, if your membership were denied, I myself would make an issue of this and if necessary, would flush my membership. In any event, for the sake of the animals, we ALL need to let cooler heads prevail.


  11. Anonymous2:40 PM

    For the record, Joan, I was part of the group that ultimately went to court and forced the romoval of several of the Toronto Humane Society Board members after they arbitrarily decided to remove the voting rights of the membership.

    I think it's fine, even necessary, to require members to adhere to a certain code of conduct. By the same token, there must be a clear system of redress for members who feel they've been wrongly sanctioned in some way.

    I agree that the spectre of spending all one's free time addressing PR concerns, manufactured or legitimate, might lead some to operate in a rather heavy-handed fashion. Those organizations that do, do so at their own peril. That kind of dictatorial or "fear of retribution" environment will only lead to fewer volunteers, fewer active supporters, and probably even greater dissent against the org., in the long run.

  12. Anonymous1:24 PM

    great interview Joan.

    I keep asking myself:

    How come Judith Gass got rid of the Metro Board when she became president ?
    How come Board Members come & go yet these 2 never go and are always the President or past President ?
    And how come when Board Members leave there isn't a vote ?
    How come Pam Keddy gets to stay president (again) even though the appointed President stepped down last year, why wasn't there another nominnation and official vote ? Why isn't there one this year ?
    If you look at who is still there since 1999 and who gets the final say on everything I guess that answers most of the questions.
    And we thought we lived in a Democratic society where public funds and pulic organizations were accountable to the public.
    Thank God for people like you Joan who aren't afraid to speak up and have this Blog.

    Suffrage for 2008