Saturday, April 26, 2008

Today was the 131st Annual General Meeting of the Nova Scotia SPCA

So what can I say, the NS SPCA AGM is over. The much anticipated vote of "non-confidence" was held - and lost. Judith Gass wants it to be known that it was actually a vote of "confidence" - and the vote was won, by a vote of 81 to 47. To say that it was an interesting day is an understatement. To say that anything that I might say is anti-climatic would be telling the truth.
This cartoon was what we all woke up to this morning - it was in the Chronicle Herald today. It was the editorial cartoon for today. Pretty funny, eh? We learned a couple years ago when we were picketing Pet's Unlimited that in order to have an editorial cartoon done on a subject that your cause had to be important enough to be known within the general public and also known province wide - so this cartoon is pretty important as a gauge of how much in the public eye this topic currently is - which is BIG. Whether the current Executive wants it that way or not.
This is how I saw the meeting today - through a peep hole, which is pretty good, considering I was banned from the meeting - I could have been relegated to outside the building. They had 2 security guards there - but they were pretty friendly guys there - only making $9 per hour, so they sat down as much as possible - which was good for me. I didn't have too much time to stand right outside the room though, because we people who were banned from the meeting spent most of the morning talking to press.
Here's a couple shots I very quickly shot when the door opened.
Definitely on the outside looking, in - eh?
Here is one of my friends Netta refusing to look into the eyes of the enemy! haha!
Here are some of us malcontents talking to the press.
Here is Janet holding up something - I can't remember what - but we made up nametags for our cause - and hung muzzles from then - of course symbolic because of the fact that we've been muzzled. Heavy, yes - but it gets the point across. We certainly didn't mind sticking out.
Here's a shot showing the scary Security guards - in case some of the malcontents decided to get physical I guess. It turns out the only one who got physical was Judith Gass - with a reporter from the Chronicle Herald after the meeting - see below for the article. We talked with her during the meeting, and she was a very nice gentle lady - and no bigger than a minute. She's actually the person standing in front of the Security Guard in this shot.
Here's a photo of 2 ladies who had their memberships revoked who tried to get in the meeting and were quickly booted out - as they were escorted out - they did get a couple words in - they are former Board members and were once very highlly esteemed in the SPCA community and the NS SPCA has been the recipient of many positive changes because of these 2 individuals.
Even French CBC was there to do interviews with people after the meeting. Luckily there were bilingual members present.

So how did the meeting go? I'm not quite sure yet - but I had a friend take in a recording device for me, and I'm going to listen to the tape and transcribe all the juicy bits, and will be posting the good stuff soon. There will be accurate transcriptions of the meeting available online in a short time. So that's good news.

One thing I did hear through the door was Terry Degen saying "you have to have a voting year for a coup". I have to tell Mr. Degen - the people hoping to effect positive change within the NS SPCA are not hoping for a coup. They are hoping for transparency, effective administration, qualified employees, filled positions, accountability to the membership, engagement with the membership, and above all - effective investigations and convictions for animal protection and cruelty in the province of Nova Scotia. The people and members of the NS SPCA who are unhappy don't have petty whims - they have serious concern that aren't going to die with today's AGM.

Mr. Degen did say that we have to wait until the election in 2009 - and I guess maybe we will. But the day will come. Rodney MacDonald said about the Celtic Pets situation, and about animal cruelty -

"this is a situation which is unacceptable. Be it in a shelter, be it on a farm, bet it in a household - they deserve to be respected, they deserve to ensured that their safety, their health is looked after and maintained - and as province - we'll make sure that happens."

I would like to submit that the NS SPCA is supposed to take part in some of that committment, and there are currently some people in Nova Scotia who think that they are falling short of that committment. They're trying very hard to seek answers to their questions, that's it Mr. Degen.

One thing we did today was pass out a flyer to members going into the meeting - you can find it - here - I downloaded it to my server if you want to read it. I'm sure there'll be more posts about the NS SPCA coming up in the future - and stay tuned for the transcripts from today's proceedings.

Here's the Chronicle Herald article that came out this afternoon from this morning's meeting:

N.S. SPCA meeting descends into chaos
Top official bangs reporter with door after initially refusing to answer questions
By JUDY MYRDEN Staff Reporter
Sat. Apr 26 - 3:57 PM

The annual meeting of the Nova Scotia SPCA descended into bizarre behaviour Saturday morning at a Halifax hotel.

After a contentious three-hour secret meeting attended by about 120 members, there were name calling and yelling at the meeting chairman in the hotel lobby. And the past president of the society, Judith Gass, smashed a Chronicle Herald reporter with a door after another member of the society shoved the reporter from the meeting.

Reporters were told Ms. Gass would talk to reporters after the closed-door meeting and when approached she refused to answer any questions.

When she left the meeting room she swung open the wooden door and hit the reporter.

Ms. Gass quickly returned to the room where she agreed to talk to reporters and apologized for her actions at least three times admitting what she had done was wrong.

“You said the media is welcome, you need the media, why did you swing that door right into the media lady who was talking to you so kindly five minutes ago? What’s wrong?” asked a Radio Canada reporter.

“I just felt blocked at that time and for that I do apologize. That was wrong. You know, … that was wrong and I’m not usually like that but I’m under a lot of pressure probably today,” Ms. Gass explained to reporters.

Ms. Gass and the SPCA board of directors successfully defeated a motion of non-confidence put forth by a group of members upset with the direction that the executive of the society has taken in recent months regarding a cruelty situation at Celtic Pets Rescue in Port Hawkesbury.

Members voted 81 to 47 in favour of supporting the current leadership of the society.

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