Heather Laird Complaint

The following is the text of Heather Laird’s attempted G24 complaint against me, with my responses. It is lengthy and covers a scattered array of issues involving me and others. My preface was eventually accepted by the Board, agreeing with me that nothing in the complaint applies to any of the criteria in Policy G24.

My suggestion of a mediated G23 process was not accepted.

For clarity and simplicity, my responses to this Complaint will be written “in line”, with Ms Laird’s original in blue letters, my replies in black, with some relevant quotes in pink.  Since much of this complaint centres around online remarks critical of the E&I (now I&D) Committee, any Board member who is or was a member of that Committee should be recused and excluded from all deliberations, discussions, and e-mail exchanges related to this matter.
Re: Letter of Formal Complaint against RASC Member & Calgary Centre National Council Representative, Mr Glenn Hawley
Please accept my filing of this letter of complaint (and appendices) against Calgary Centre National Council Representative and fellow member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (the “RASC” or “Society”), Mr Glenn Hawley, for targeted harassment under RASC Policy G24 (Anti-harassment policy).
As a preface, I find that the central elements to any G24 process, namely the “Protected Characteristics” that feature prominently in that Policy, are absent here. A G23 process for resolving disagreements would be more appropriate, since at the heart of the matter Ms Laird and I simply are not in agreement about certain ideas and concepts.
Be that as it may, I can see that Ms Laird has invested considerable time and effort into this outpouring of anger and resentment, so I will take equal care to provide a comparable effort to respond to her various contentions. Some of my responses will appear to be repetitive, since some of the assertions by Ms Laird are also repetitive.
I am writing this letter to highlight my own experience with Mr Hawley’s pattern of bullying and harassment because I think it’s important to show the Board of Directors (the “Board”) that Mr Hawley’s recent behaviour toward Ms. Nicole Mortillaro and Mr. Paul Heath is not a one-time incident. Originally, I intended not to submit a letter of support for their complaints but once I began going through all of my records and re-living all of these experiences I had with Mr. Hawley, I realized the evidence would be better suited to support a complaint of my own. I know other issues with his behaviour have been ongoing for many members for approximately 15 years or more, but I can’t speak to that. I can only speak to my own experience and I will do my best to outline as much as I can leading up to recent events.
As a current Director on the Board, I have recused myself from all discussions related to this matter and will not be participating on any decision-making processes as it would obviously pose a conflict of interest and substantial bias against Mr. Hawley considering my past experience with him, which will be evident in this letter, and I want to make sure he has a fair opportunity of defense. I understand that members of the Board may consider my support for Mr Hawley’s ban from National Council and national committees
to be extreme, but in my view it is not extreme at all and I hope to help you understand why I think it is appropriate.
List of Appendices
In the next few sections, I will be referring to e-mails, correspondence or discussion threads according to the appendices listed below:
Appendix 1 H. Laird E-mail to BOD re G. Hawley Activity on RASC Lists (November 7, 2018)
o Appendix 1A Gmail – [RASCals] Equity and Inclusivity Committee (1)
o Appendix 1B Gmail – [RASCals] Equity and Inclusivity Committee (2)
o Appendix 1C Gmail – [RASCals] Equity and Inclusivity Committee (3)
o Appendix 1D Gmail – [RASCals] Equity and Inclusivity Committee (4)
o Appendix 1E Gmail – [RASCals] Equity and Inclusivity Committee (5)
o Appendix 1F Gmail – [RASCals] Nikki
Appendix 2 – RASC List Thread re Expulsion of Member (July 11, 2016)
Appendix 3 – H. Laird Public Response to RASCals List re July Bulletin Discussion (July 11, 2016) Appendix 4 – RASC Council Discussion Hijacking (December 3, 2016)
Appendix 5 – Lol Response from S. Yeo (April 24, 2017)
Appendix 6 Unsolicited Direct E-mail to H. Laird from G. Hawley re “personal vitriol” (April 24,    2017)
Appendix 7 – Public L. Vanzella Response to G. Hawley re Expelled Member Clarifications (November 1, 2017)
Appendix 8 – H. Laird Response to Unsolicited Direct G. Hawley Email re Sexism Thread (November 1, 2017)
Appendix 9 – P. Heath Response to Sexism in the RASC Discussion (November 1, 2017) Appendix 10 – K. Horan Response to Moderation Discussion (November 5, 2017)
Appendix 11 Unsolicited Direct Response to H. Laird from G. Hawley re RASCals Thread on Sexism in the RASC (December 1, 2017)
Appendix 12 – Email to M. Watson, C. Haig and H. Laird re Progressive discipline (attachment to email supplied) (March 9, 2018)
Appendix 13 – Email to M. Watson, C. Haig and H. Laird from G. Hawley & S. Yeo re An analysis of what we find wrong (April 3, 2018) ([include this attachment])
Appendix 14 – Targeted Response to Paul Heath (November 7, 2018)
Appendix 15 – Email to M. Watson, C. Haig and H. Laird re Most recent version of G24 (March 31, 2018)
Appendix 16 – H. Laird’s Notice to Calgary Centre of Immediate Resignation as Calgary Councillor & National Council Representative (July 22, 2016)
Appendix 17 – Responses to [RASCals] Equity and Inclusivity Committee Thread (November 5, 2018)
Details of November 2018 RASC List Harassment
As the Board is already aware, I had called for Mr Hawley’s expulsion because I feel he is a detriment to our Society as a whole. I still support that, however I understand it’s likely unrealistic and I feel a  permanent ban from National Council and other national committees to be more appropriate. I sent that original statement and suggestion to the Board on November 7, 2018 (please see attached Appendix 1) shortly after witnessing the communications on the RASC e-mail discussion lists (“RASC Lists”)  from other members demanding action from the Board  (please see Appendix 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E and 1F; descriptions of each Appendix listed here are also described below).
The above appendix 1D, shows how user Nebulous Nikky chose to take issue with a specific item I had written, trying to defend or excuse a misstatement of fact she had made, and the following extract is the contribution of Paul Heath, the which e-mail contained nothing relevant to either the Committee discussion nor to anything I posted concerning it. It’s just a diatribe against me personally:
“Mr. Hawley, May I commend you on once again proving beyond any doubt why the Equity and Inclusivity Committee is an absolute necessity for our Society. Your attack of every justifiable reason for having this committee is further reinforcement for the need of this committee. Your taking comments that you disapprove of out of context is another example of why we need this committee.
As you have not put down or insulted what I have said on this thread,
I must assume that you have still blocked me as you repeatedly say
you will do every time I have spoken on this list. On a personal note all
the things you told me I was not qualified to do or should not be allowed to do ARE the reasons I won the Qilak Award last year. ”
Both chose to engage me directly without changing the subject line. They were no longer discussing the actual E&I Committee, despite the fact that our social media policy G13 even states, as seen quoted by Ms Laird:
“Keep the subject line current — if the topic of discussion changes mid-thread, change the subject line.”
So when I then changed the subject line to their usernames for my responses, it wasn’t any sort of “targeted attack” (neither targeted nor an attack) but rather was a standard courtesy to others who might still be interested in the E&I Committee discussion, but not in any spin-off topics. It is suggested by the Complainant that my intention in changing the subject line was in order to harass or bully, but who would know my intention better than I myself would?
My responses to Nebulous Nikky involved pointing out that she was not, as she had claimed (and Mr Ennis repeated), “the only” non-white person at the GA. This is not an issue of opinion, but of the simple fact that there were other non-white people in attendance. Her remark might even be perceived as disrespectful to those others, as if they were not important enough to deserve her consideration.
My responses to Paul Heath pointed out that his various accusations were so inapplicable to me that he must have been thinking of someone else. I do not even know how I would go about blocking him on any of our e-mail lists, for example. That’s not something I’m even in the habit of doing on other social media sites. Nor have I ever told him he wasn’t qualified to do anything in particular (Qilak-related or otherwise).
There were no personal attacks toward anyone from me.
In contrast, appendices 1B, 1E, and 1F consist of direct attacks against me independent of the actual E&I Committee discussion. Some seemed to object to the use of the word “colour” to denote race, though I was merely reflecting the term Nebulous Nikky used. It appears that some people react to what they think I ought to have written (according to their preconceived notions), rather than to what I actually write.
Also of relevance is the advice in G13 not to become  “too easily annoyed.”
Was I being “kind” or “emotionally sensitive” or “soft and cuddly”? No, but I see no particular reason why I should have been. It’s a discussion forum for ideas and assertions, not some sort of support group.
On November 5, 2018, Mr. Alan Whitman sent a message to the RASC Lists regarding his thoughts on an article by Mr. Charles Ennis that he read in the RASC Bulletin; the subject matter was on the creation of the new Equity & Inclusivity Committee (now named the Inclusivity & Diversity Committee, hereinafter referred to as the I&D Committee”). Mr. Charles Ennis, Ms. Mortillaro and myself are all members of this new I&D Committee. Mr Hawley had responded supporting Mr Whitman’s opinions on the matter. Mr Charles Ennis, Ms Nicole Mortillaro and I noticed some misconceptions and possible misunderstandings of the goals of the I&D Committee that Mr. Whitman may have held and decided to respond (see Appendix 17 for both of those responses). The responses shortly afterwards caused a discussion that was necessary, however it was quickly hijacked by Mr. Hawley (which has been happening often recently) and turned into something very ugly (the November 2018 RASC List Harassment) which unsurprisingly lead to the formal complaints and requests for discipline before the Board today.
In Appendix 17 we can see that poster Alan Whitman had legitimate concerns involving the methodology being presented, which is an aspect different from the stated goals. It would appear that Ms Laird’s opinion about what constitutes a “discussion that was necessary” does not include dissent from those methodologies. Diversity of opinion, diversity of expression, diversity of ideas, all seem to be absent from her limited concept of “diversity”. This very Complaint seeks to quash free discussion and eliminate any dissenting thoughts.
We also see in Ms Laird’s final e-mail of Appendix 17 the line: “…  providing non-judgemental space for everyone to express themselves freely and comfortably…”, which contrasts markedly with her current campaign to extinguish my own ability to express myself at all within the Society, much less “freely”.
It is also not actually possible to “hijack” a discussion thread without the full and enthusiastic cooperation of other posters. One way to avoid topic drift within a thread is, of course, to politely change the title line whenever a side issue discussion arises, thus allowing the original thread to be continued unaffected.
Policy and By-Law Violation
 Mr Hawley’s behaviour listed above and subsequent sections below can be seen, I believe, as direct violations of RASC policies and by-laws. I have highlighted all that I believe apply to my complaint:
RASC National By-Law #1, Sections 15.1, 15.2 and 15.3 (Discipline of Members):
15. Discipline of Members
The Board shall have authority to suspend or expel any member from the Society for any one or more of the following grounds:
15.1 violating any provision of the articles, By-Law, or written policies of the Society;
15.2 carrying our any conduct which may be detrimental to the Society as determined by the Board in its sole discretion;
15.3 for any other reason that the Board in its sole and absolute discretion considers to be reasonable, having regard to the purpose of the Society.
Policy G5 Membership Policies, Disciplinary Policy
Members are expected at all times to conduct themselves appropriately and with due regard to the best interests of the Society and their fellow members. Failure to comply may result in discipline, or eventual expulsion in accordance with By-Law #1, Section 15.
Policy G13 Society Discussion Lists and Social Media
See: https://www.rasc.ca/on-line-communities
1. Start new “threads” with a descriptive subject.
2. Keep the subject line current — if the topic of discussion changes mid-thread, change the subject line.
3. When “quoting” material from a previous message, only include the relevant parts, NOT THE WHOLE MESSAGE.
4. When replying to daily-digest messages, insert an appropriate subject.
5. . Avoid sending purely personal replies like “See ya tomorrow, Fred…” to the list.
6. Non-RASC politics, Religion, my brand of scope is better than your brand and Windows-Mac topics all spell a recipe for certain flame wars. Please avoid these topics like the plague.
7. Remember this is a hobby. Do not annoy or be easily annoyed. Enjoy yourself.
I think it’s also important to note that the Society needs an actual Social Media Policy as this is pretty weak, these RASC Lists would fall under it. There’s nothing about abusing the lists to harass members privately on there, which Mr. Hawley does frequently.
Policy G24 Anti-Harassment Policy, Section B (Definition of Harassment and Discrimination)
Harassment and discrimination is denigrating or hostile conduct that is directed to or is based on Protected Characteristics of an individual or group, and that can reasonably be expected to cause humiliation or embarrassment. It includes, but is not limited to, the following: epithets; slurs; negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating, bullying or hostile acts; denigrating jokes; display or circulation of written or graphic material containing any of the foregoing content.
Please understand and appreciate the severity of Mr Hawley’s recent actions and, as you will see, his past behaviour. This is a repeating pattern that cannot go on any longer.
Details of Personal Past Experience
My experience with Mr Hawley goes back a little while and most of the negative experiences I have draw back to the expulsion of a member in 2016 that sexually assaulted/harassed another RASC member and myself (the 2016 Incident). Because a fellow Director (at the time, this person has since stepped down), Ms Susan Yeo, and Mr Hawley’s support of the expelled member (the “Expelled Member”) along with Mr Hawley’s tendency to constantly vocalize that support and his belief that the Board did not follow due process (even though they absolutely did and Mr Hawley did not have all of the information because it was confidential to the Board), I’ve had to relive the 2016 Incident events all too often when public messages would go out on the RASC Lists (see Appendix 2 and 4). You can see this, as well, simply by looking at the list of appendices I’ve provided above. During this flurry of discussion prompted by an article by Ms Katrina Ince-Lum in the RASC Bulletin on the RASC Lists,
Since Ms Laird has chosen here to rehash the matter, it should be clear that there are very legitimate grounds to question the actions of the Board in the 2016 Incident. Whether Ms Laird thinks that the Board followed “due process” is an issue of opinion.  An issue of fact is that the Board did not adhere to our Policy Manual, given that the very first step in G23 (after skipping the Conciliator) would have been to appoint a Mediator. That step simply never occurred, nor any of the subsequent steps in the G23 process.
The fact that section G24 was later extensively amended to try to match and justify, post facto, the actions of the Board shows just how far from the then-existing Policy Manual those actions were.
And I have never done anything in “support of the expelled member”, except as a side effect. I’ve never suggested he escape unscathed, but rather have instead simply opposed the excessive and possibly panic-stricken actions by the Board. I have always maintained that the Respondent should indeed have been sanctioned, but that expulsion was too extreme a response.
As the quote from the famous commentator Junius, found in the header of The Globe And Mail, reads:
“The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures.”
And it should not be forgotten that Ms Laird volunteered as one of the principals in the rewriting of policy G24, which suggests that she can function quite well, without feeling emotionally “triggered”, in the midst of factors pertaining to the 2016 Incident.
 I did respond publicly to a sexist remark made by Mr Hawley where he suggested “dumping” female staff members to hire more men for gender parity in our office (see Appendix 3).
My remark here was a rhetorical approach sometimes known as reductio ad absurdem, wherein an argument is taken to its logical conclusion to show how silly it is. In this case, achieving gender parity would require us to replace half our staff… an obviously silly idea. It was not a course of action that I was recommending or even suggesting, but rather quite the contrary.
 Mr Hawley even went so far on the RASC Lists to suggest that the victims of the 2016 Incident essentially be put on trial in front of National Council (please see attached Appendix 2) Although this wording wasn’t exactly used, it was suggested and the National Council is not a court of law.
Here again one sees how misconstruals are created by reading into my posts that which is not there. At least Ms Laird admits here that the wording wasn’t used, and nor was the idea.
In bringing the question of an expulsion to the National Council there would be no need to bring up victims at all, nor the details of their experiences. Rather issues would be looked at such as whether previous lesser sanctions applied for previous similar complaints had failed to correct the aberrant behaviour (the application of “progressive discipline” as established by decades of regulation and litigation in labour relations), and whether the processes found in the Policy Manual had been adhered to.
In this case, of course, there were no previous complaints and no previous sanctions that would justify escalation to the level of expulsion, especially when done outside the processes of our Policy Manual.
 And while the National Council is indeed not a Court of Law, neither is the Board.
The idea was ridiculous and deeply upsetting. Many wanted to pry into my and the other victim’s private life and the detailed evidence of the 2016 Incident simply to find out of the Board did what it was supposed to do when they had already sought legal advice and followed procedures to make sure they did. It was shocking and gross to see how many people supported that method of investigation.
While federal regulations give the Board almost unlimited power to act as it pleases, it should be recognized that not all available actions are wise or even reasonable.
It is not at all surprising that so many people, especially Council members, would want to ensure transparency when a decision of such enormity as an expulsion is undertaken. If members are going to be at risk for sudden and drastic punishment, some sort of accountability to the membership (as represented by the National Council, for example) should be expected. Members nominally depend upon the Policy Manual for guidance and for expectations, and should not be subject to severe Board actions falling outside that Manual without very clear justification being offered.
Members are not employees, but more like customers, and deserve, if anything, even better treatment than that found in Labour Board deliberations.
Procedural secrecy is especially deleterious to general morale in cases where a complainant is a member of the Board, and thus could reasonably be expected to be able to unduly influence Board decisions. When members cannot even get substantive answers to questions put to the Board, trust and faith in Board decisions is necessarily going to decline.
It is because of Mr Hawley’s behaviour on the RASC List that I promptly resigned as a Calgary Centre member and as one of their National Council Representatives (see Appendix 16). I later returned as a Calgary member in 2017 but, I will admit for the first time openly in this letter that it is Mr Hawley and Ms Yeo’s behaviour that deter me from being as involved as I once was.
While I remain disappointed that Ms Laird abandoned the Calgary Centre, I have ever acted against her in any way. My failure to get on the bandwagon advocating excessive sanctions on her behalf does not constitute acting against her, nor does simply failing to rush to assuage her apparent emotional stress.
 And if these communications from me dating a year or even two years ago were a problem for her, she had the option to quietly seek a resolution to those disagreements a year or even two years ago. Instead, regardless of whether those ancient postings could actually be considered “offside” or not, they have been fully condoned by the lack of complaint against them.
After already going through this complaint and subsequent appeal process myself for the 2016 Incident, I wanted to be sure I was able to fully support those making complaints against Mr Hawley by supplying evidence of my own experience. I realized that supplying this evidence would be better served within my own complaint. As you can see, the evidence is quite robust in quantity. Even though I know I had experienced it and it wasn’t a false perception, it still saddens me that I have so much proof of it. Let me point out that I have never contacted Mr Hawley on my own accord, I have responded to e-mails he has sent directly to me usually asking him to stop contacting me about the 2016 Incident as it was continuously being brought up to distract from discussions on important topics, plus I had recused myself from the matter and did not want any part in it other than the role I already had as a complainant.
Despite this claim, Ms Laird managed to play an important role in amending section G24.
I find myself here again. As much as I wish I didn’t have to go through this process again, rehashing experiences of the 2016 Incident, Mr. Hawley played a very large role in the aftermath of emotional turmoil I experienced.
Mr Hawley has spoken often about a “bullying campaign” or a “personal vendetta” against him,
I have only referred to a “personal vendetta” and “bullying” in the context of the recent E&I Committee discussion and the actions of the Board taken against my ability to express myself. “Once” is hardly what could be called “often”.
And this Complaint is certainly a prime example of the problem. The e-mail extracts in appendices 01B, 01E, and 01F show clearly a series of people who posted with no apparent other purpose than to attack me personally, rather than address the ideas or the positions concerning the E&I Committee expressed in my posts. That’s exactly what a bullying personal vendetta looks like.
when the evidence actually suggests the contrary- he actively pursues a bullying campaign and personal vendetta against the Board, other members of the Society, and myself. Please notice how Mr Hawley copies me on e-mails regarding his and Ms Yeo’s advocation and support of the Expelled Member or anything to do with the RASC Anti-Harassment policy (see Appendices 12, 13, and 15),
Advocating the correction of an injustice is hardly bullying, and the Board has always had the obvious recourse of correcting that injustice.
It is also perhaps ironic that Appendix 12 starts out with an e-mail from Michael Watson, also copying to Ms Laird. Shall his judgment and actions in including Ms Laird “in the loop” be questioned as well?
there is no reason for copying me on these messages other than to (a) engage with me in some way on the 2016 Incident when I’ve asked him numerous times to direct any of these communications to other members of the Board (see Appendices 6 and 8), and (b) provoke fear or frustration (this is bullying).
It was intended as a courtesy, to keep her “in the loop”. But I’d be happy to exclude Ms Laird to the extent possible for any future discussions of the 2016 Incident.
This is another example of targeted harassment he willfully engages in and it’s humiliating for the victim. It’s also worth it to state that the other victim of the 2016 Incident is not included in any of these messages.
I’ve not been made aware of the identity of any other complainants. Robyn Foret once assured me that there were three women who had complained, but even the Respondent is only aware of the one official complaint. Ms Laird is also the only complainant who was, and still is, on the Board and necessarily involved in any discussions about Board actions.
Notice the direct e-mails he sends to me to entice an argument (see Appendices 6, 8, and 11). As further evidence of bullying tactics used by Mr. Hawley and Ms Yeo, please see one of Ms Yeo’s responses on the RASC List where she replies “Lol” (which is a commonly accepted acronym for “laugh out loud” when she feels as though Mr Hawley has put me in my place (see attached Appendix 5). It was childish and unnecessary; however, it is an example bullying behaviour that they both exhibit often and feed off of. Another example od targeted harassment or RASC member Mr Heath, where Mr. Hawley changes the topic to a RASC member’s name on the RASC Lists (see Appendix 14). He did this to Ms Mortillaro too, as mentioned previously (see Appendix 1F). I am not the only person who can supply these kinds of messages from Mr Hawley. There are many of us.
Changing the title is a common courtesy when the subject changes, as seen in our Policy G13 governing e-mail lists. It has nothing to do with “bullying”.
Disagreeing with someone is hardly the same thing as bullying. I have done nothing that would preclude anyone from expressing themselves freely and openly on any of our fora. I’ve never suggested to anyone that they stop posting or cease communicating. On the contrary, this very Complaint trying to get the Board to impose sanctions against me is a very real form of such bullying.
And the option to ignore any post or any person is always available if reading those contributes to stress, particularly if you don’t actually want to be kept “in the loop” for whatever reason.
In September 2016, Ms. Yeo approached me in the parking lot of a hotel during a break where we were having a Board workshop in Calgary (other members of the Board witnessed this approach but did not witness all of what was said) and accused me of being childish and abandoning my Centre when I resigned and needed to take a 3-month break from Board responsibilities because of the 2016 Incident. I had been concerned that this might happen as I knew that Ms. Yeo and Mr. Hawley were friends. I responded to Ms Yeo’s accusations in the parking lot by informing her that this exact behaviour from her and people like herself and Mr. Hawley were the reason I was distancing myself from my Centre because no one deserves the treatment I had already received from either of them. I was protecting myself and I was well within my right to do that. She stormed off and didn’t return, I also didn’t return the following day for the meeting because I felt attacked and was quite obviously upset. I was seriously questioning my future as a RASC member and considered resigning as a Director on the Board. I didn’t feel emotionally safe whatsoever nor did I feel like I could be proactive with the volunteer work I wanted to focus on, despite the support I received from my peers. I received countless e-mails and online direct messages (on Twitter and Facebook) of support from members that have gone through similar experiences. I am not supplying those messages because they were sent to me in confidence. My point of telling this part of my story is, I felt alone even though I wasn’t and that was exactly the point of their singling me out whether they realize that or not. This behaviour is exactly what bullies do to get what they want. They corner you, they single you out and they intimidate you in order to get an emotional response.
I have not spoken in person with Ms Laird since 2016. I have no interest whatsoever in anyone’s emotional responses, but rather stick to rational ones. It may even be that my not showering her with “emotional support” in 2016 contributes to her evident anger here. “Emotional” is just not something with which I try to involve myself. Just because Ms Laird perceives things in emotional terms does not mean that everyone else has to do the same.
Mr. Hawley made some serious allegations regarding the Edmonton Centre supposedly allowing the Expelled Member to continue activity within that Centre as a non-member, despite the Board’s decision to protect members of the public and members of RASC from this person.
This little nugget of information about “protecting members” is something the Board has never released, so for Ms Laird to be aware of it would require that she be privy to Board discussions (kept secret for over two years) from which she claims here to have entirely recused herself. This does not bode well for the verisimilitude of the rest of her Complaint.
And if that really is what the Board thought it was doing, they would thereby be punishing the Respondent for his behaviour at Centre-level events, on the basis of exactly zero information about his behaviour at Centre-level events. Calling that “due process” is really quite a stretch.
Mr. Luca Vanzella promptly responded to those allegations on November 1, 2017 publicly denying the allegations and putting that rumour quickly to rest (see attached Appendix 7). This shows to prove that Mr. Hawley will make things up in order to support his own cause. It’s dangerous.
The above error of mine (already acknowledged as such at the time) stemmed from another member on the list claiming that the Respondent in the 2016 Incident was again active in his Centre. I assumed they knew what they were talking about, but apparently they were mistaken, and I really should have investigated the matter more fully before taking them at their word.
But for something to be an “allegation” requires the presence some kind of malfeasance. Having local-only members is not, however, forbidden by our Bylaw or Policy, and any Centre has the default right to do so. A prohibition against the practice used to exist in our old Bylaw, but after the National Council (while it still held real authority) categorically refused to implement the measure, it was not included in the new Bylaw.
So this was not an “allegation” at all, much less a “serious” one.
Other members have directly responded to the comments made on the RASC Lists in the past (see examples in Appendices 9 and 10), so it is very obvious that his repetitive abuse of those communication channels bothers many.
I have always responded positively to requests by moderators to close a particular thread. I find it to be an uncommon occurrence. I have never been approached by a moderator and specifically asked to be the only one not to continue to comment. I have never received any official indications (until the event just recently) that my postings could be seen as problematic. I have received no remarks from any moderator to the effect that my posts might be considered deleterious.
One of the ways I try to avoid getting involved in “flame wars” is to ignore the content of posts that are just personal vitriol. Posts telling someone to shut up or to stop posting should be ignored.
We recently had a Board member nearly quit because of the July 2018 Canada Revenue Agency threats Mr. Hawley publicly made to the Board regarding our financials and budget. There was again another flurry of e-mails on the RASC Lists sparking intense debate and throwing around serious and false accusations at the Board on that public forum to incite argument and unfounded questioning of the Board’s ethics. I don’t need to supply evidence of this, the Board already has it.
Identifying a risk is not the same thing as making a threat. I presume this is a reference to two issues: the inappropriate allocation of extraneous (ie, non-member) revenue to the Membership Services side of our accounts, and the conversion of charitable money to a member benefit in the case of the robotic telescope program.
In the unlikely event of a CRA audit, it would not be me having to come up with explanations. The CRA would be demanding answers with the force of Law behind them. It would be left to the Board members to accept the responsibility and the liability. One might wonder, then, why I would care, since I’m personally off the hook in any case?
The answer, of course, is that I love this Society, and do not want to see issues festering, issues over which a CRA audit could potentially create serious problems for us. My love for the Society is why I have been involved in administrative positions at Centre and/or National level continuously since 1987. One might suggest that I love the Society even more than I love the Board.
I’ve had someone suggest to me that Mr. Hawley privately told them he has a developmental disorder, which subsequently caused an argument because I pointed out that I found it to be entirely offensive and sadly ignorant to even think about using a disorder as an excuse for racist, sexist and bullying behaviour, whether or not Mr. Hawley actually suffers from this.
This is the first time I’ve heard of my ever offering a supposed “developmental disorder” as an excuse for anything… which is probably why no appendices are mentioned for reference. It’s just innuendo. And referring to “racist, sexist and bullying” is merely adding more gratuitous insults, something I have never directed against anyone on any of our e-mail lists, nor social media sites, nor in person.
My own sister has a developmental disorder (Asperger Syndrome) and she would never use it as an excuse to be horrible to or harass another person. When she was young, she had major difficulty understanding nonverbal communication and social cues in social situations but she still never harassed or was abusive toward anyone (she is now in her SO’s and has learned over time to navigate social situations and interactions pretty well). My family and some of my close friends that are not involved with the Society have asked me to resign numerous times in the past because of the incessant drama I have had to endure from Mr. Hawley and the amount of stress these experiences stemming from the 2016 Incident has caused me. I have a chronic pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, that is easily exacerbated by emotional stress. I have lost days of work in the past because of pain caused directly from some of my frustration with Mr. Hawley’s behaviour toward me, forcing me to re-live the 2016 Incident every few months and my being totally unable to do anything about it.
I am saddened to learn that Ms Laird has fibromyalgia, and I’m quite sorry that she has suffered from so much stress. It has never been my intention to exacerbate her condition. She could always have simply ignored my e-mails to the Board or to other RASC lists if she found them stressful.
It is also clear from this particular 2018 complaint that Ms Laird’s stress situation has been made more difficult, not less so, by the level of severity of the sanction applied in the case of the 2016 Incident, and by the controversy that decision created. I have repeatedly stated that should that injustice inflicted by the Board be remedied, I would cease entirely to comment on the matter, which would presumably remove that particular source of her stress.
Nothing from me about the controversy over the 2016 Incident has been directed toward Ms Laird or her experiences, but rather only toward the Board decisions, from which she claims to have recused herself.
These people in my life that have suggested I resign aren’t even privy to all details, some have only witnessed the clear signs of distress, depression and anger that I was experiencing and felt it was incredibly unhealthy for me. I have to agree with them that it is unhealthy and I have obviously struggled with this a few times. However, the Society and its future are important to me. I feel it’s best for me to stand up for what is right despite my own experience and hang on because this is an organization I truly believe in. People like Mr. Hawley, though, are the reason I have a moral problem with and difficulty boasting about our Society to potential future members or potential members of the Board. I am afraid for them because of what I and so many others have had to endure. I have to put that aside often and focus on what’s actually important, the phenomenal volunteers and accomplishments we already have and the amazing teams working hard on today’s initiatives in order to benefit the Society for years to come. We are moving in the right direction, there will be obstacles in our way but we will work through them. I trust the Board will act accordingly in this situation and as they see-fit.
How often are people saying that “it’ s just who he {Mr. Hawley) is, he’s a little extreme sometimes”  or he’s “the rude Uncle everyone needs to  ignore, he’s harmless”  or “I don’t agree with him but it’s best not to argue and just ignore  him”? How often are people apologizing  for his behaviour  when he’s  not in the room? We have all heard these types of stories about Mr. Hawley, some of us have our own. I am sharing and re-living mine to support this complaint. He is not harmless. He is a liability.
It seems the Board is confronted with something or other to do with Mr. Hawley’s behaviour a few times a year, maybe more so now because people are more comfortable coming forward with their complaints.
Mr. Hawley should have been disciplined for his behaviour a very long time ago. With all of that said, RASC cannot harbour people who consistently break the rules and are always abusive or harassing of other members that don’t support their views or try to stand up for themselves, not without discipline either.
What we see in this Complaint is exactly a process of harassing me for failing to support Ms Laird’s views, and for standing up for my own positions. And what rules am I supposed to have broken? The Complaint doesn’t say, and offers no supportive evidence.
Throughout all of this, I believe I have firmly remained professional and balanced in my responses and communications with Mr. Hawley despite the emotional rollercoaster I would experience (and likely will again experience through this complaint process) in private. I have been stern with him, I have strongly disagreed with him, but I have never resorted to stooping to his level despite his many attempts to trigger me to do so. I aim to be fair, and I find my coming forward now with this complaint is entirely warranted.
I believe Mr. Hawley is aware of what he is doing and he behaves like this because he firmly believes that he is in the right, these are things he believes to his core. He is not uneducated or ignorant to the women’s rights movements (like #metoo), he is aware of prominent figures falling to the wayside because of sexual assault and/or harassment allegations.
I’m not sure what relevance these matters have. The prominent figures in question have been accused of exploiting their wealth, power, and/or authority to obtain sexual favours from their underlings. The RASC has a rather flat hierarchy, and no Board member has enough influence to offer National Council Reps, nor even regular Members, much in the way of rewards to induce them to succumb to such things.
Never have I tried to exploit my position, either within the RASC or in any other aspect of my life, to extort sexual services. This sort of base innuendo should have no place here.
he understands diversity and inclusivity – he just doesn’t agree with it (which he has a right to). Yet, he chooses to be a misogynistic, sexist, racist and bigoted person
These gratuitous and unsubstantiated insults ill become Ms Laird. She admits I have a right to disagree with her from time to time on various topics, but she is attempting here to remove entirely my ability to express that disagreement.
I can offer something about inclusivity that should be enlightening. At the recent GA, as speeches were going on at the microphone, I noticed two young lads, the authors of two very nice poster presentations at the GA, and their equally East Indian father, sitting at a table, all alone, way out of the way, in the back and off to one side, near the entrance to the venue, looking isolated and ill at ease.
So I went over, introduced myself, sat down, and chatted with them quietly for almost an hour.
Did I succeed on making them feel completely “included”? Probably not, since the two lads are not even in high school yet, and were attending a very adult conference. However I saw no one else at the time making any such effort. It seemed that no one else there cared enough about actual inclusivity to even engage with non-whites like those three.
The point here is that I value inclusivity for its sake alone, I value our youth members, and I hope those two will become regular members some day.  I value these things much more than I value mere virtue-signaling.
I love this Society, and would like to see us penetrate more markets, and access wider demographics for membership. But that does not appear to be the goal of the E&I Committee.
that expresses his close-minded views loudly via e-mail and on social media, over and over again. Even when he is asked to stop responding, when he is asked to stop spamming RASC Lists to cause argument or promote his own agenda (which he often blames others of doing), he will find a new way to bring it up.
No moderator has ever singled me out to ask me alone to stop posting. Rarely has a RASC moderator even decided to close a thread I’ve been commenting on. Only recently did the President, acting as locum tenens for the RASCALs moderator, decide, instead of closing the thread, or even requesting I stop posting, to arbitrarily remove me from all RASC e-mail lists, including those lists other than the one with the discussion involved. That act was a clear departure from our Policy Manual.
As it says, in G13, a moderator may:
(iv) as a last resort, to ban a user from the Social Channel either permanently or for an appropriate period.
Note: not as a first choice of action, but as a “last resort” after other requests and measures have failed. No prior notifications about any of my postings have ever been made, and certainly not in the case of the recent E&I Committee discussion.
He is entitled to share whatever he wants on his social media accounts and hold whatever beliefs and values he has; the issue is that he actively argues and causes enough upset that countless people have blocked him (myself included in taking that kind of action against him on social media), and he regularly attacks and harasses members that disagree with him. He seems to know this and not care to change.
An examination of any of my postings will show that while I sometimes disagree (even vehemently on occasion) with the posts of others, I refrain from attacking the people themselves, but stick to the arguments and assertions in question. I do not launch personal insults at people, and certainly not of the invidious sort that Ms Laird keeps repeating in this Complaint.
I firmly believe the Society can be exactly what it aspires to be: an inclusive, welcoming and thriving organization. It cannot be so if we continue to constantly cater to people like Mr. Hawley, brushing every instance of indecency or clear sexism and/or bigotry (in person, on the RASC Lists and on social media)
There’s no basis for any such calumnies like “indecency” or “sexism”, and of course this Complaint offers no evidence for any of it.
under the rug as though it’s easy to ignore. It’s not easy to ignore anymore, it’s not right to ignore and Mr. Hawley clearly crosses lines. Another issue is that he is currently a representative of the Society (Calgary Centre National Council Representative and is also on the Calgary Centre’s executive council) and he is constantly demonstrating that his views on diversity and inclusivity do not align with the rest of the Society
Several people on the discussion about the E&I Committee also expressed reservations about it. Not just Alan Whitman, but also Cathy Hall, Kim Hay, Armand, Tasha Clowater, Joseph O’Neil, Ron Macnaughton, and others. Many members do not “align” with the views and methodologies of the E&I committee. One member in a private e-mail told me that he had spent so many years working in a union environment that he could recognize a disciplinary program when he saw one. That’s a remark about the methodology presented by the Committee, and not the supposed goals.
Rather than looking outward to penetrate other markets, the Committee proposes to look inward, and go after members who fail to “toe the line” on their concepts of Political Correctness and Identity Politics.
It is a mistaken assumption to think that anyone not busy virtue-signaling their support of the E&I Committee’s processes is somehow standing against inclusivity. It is also a mistaken assumption that the views of the Society as a whole necessarily align with those of the E&I Committee.
(or Canada). This is not okay, it’s a massive issue with conduct. It does not matter that Mr. Hawley is a past President of the Society, his efforts over the years also should not be taken into consideration as his consistent behaviour unfortunately makes all of those accomplishments moot. I believe there should be no room for more excuses and the just response to all of this is to finally realize how much of a detriment Mr. Hawley is and has been to the Society for far too long. I appreciate the Board taking the time to read and consider this lengthy letter of complaint based on my own experience these last two years.
Thank you, Heather Laird
Once the innuendoes, insults, and misconstruals within this Complaint are stripped away, what remains is the simple matter that Ms Laird doesn’t like the fact that she disagrees with some of the ideas and concepts I express. This is hardly a justifiable basis for excluding me from e-mail lists, nor for banning me from occupying positions on the National Council, much less for the exceedingly vile suggestion of expelling me from the Society.
While Ms Laird is apparently very stressed by certain matters, relief for her problems has largely been available from elsewhere, including from within her own choices. The disputatious process she has launched here is unlikely to reduce her stress levels, and may very well increase them.
This Complaint carries personal insult to a level I would never apply to anyone, and represents a form of harassment directly intended to extinguish my ability to express my views within the Society. This is a sort of attack to which I would never have thought of stooping, not even while I was National President with the potential to exploit my influence within the Board.
Every element of the Complaint lies refuted, and much of it is shown to be mere innuendo, hearsay, or rumour without any documented foundation. No harassment or discrimination of any kind, much less based on any G24 Protected Characteristic or based on any sexual characteristic is demonstrated.
It is my opinion that no objective observer could take this Complaint as serious enough to warrant any action by the Board, other than to fully restore my access to the affected e-mail lists. Much of the membership might even be offended by the Complaint as being frivolous, abusive, and in bad faith.
Included with this Response are letters of support from Mary Lou Whitehorne, Brendon Roy, Alister Ling, Katherine Peterson, Don Hladiuk, Russel Chandler, Greg King, David Levy, Peter Jedicke, Cathy Hall, Mel Head, Rod Eaton, Peter Brackett, and Robert Dick, each of whom disputes disgraceful mischaracterizations offered by the Complainant.
I love this Society too much to want to see unilateral and disproportionate Board actions further alienate Members and Centres.
Be that as it may, should the Board choose to pursue this vicious, unfounded, unsupported, and patently false attack, I hereby inform the Complainant(s); the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Society Board of Directors, the Executive Director, and each of them jointly and severally, that I reserve my right to proceed with civil litigation further to this proceeding made under RASC Policy G24, and I further advise those parties that any comments, observations, or other responses of any type made herein do not preclude, prejudice, or abrogate that right.
In accordance with Policy G24, Section E, Items 7 and 4, the RASC Board of Directors must appoint an impartial investigator. Policy G24, Section E, Item 4 specifically states that “No person who has a conflict of interest may serve as the investigator”. I submit that due to the public nature of RASC social media, discussion lists, and the propensity for RASC members to communicate with each other privately, no RASC member can be considered as an impartial investigator in this case. As such, an impartial investigator must be appointed from outside the Society, at the Society’s expense.
There are multiple unsupported, false, denigrating, slanderous and hostile statements made against the Alleged Offender in the Formal Complaint. Each must be exposed and examined individually on their merits through statements of facts and/or other submissions from parties named directly, indirectly, by innuendo or other suggestion. This examination can only be done by an outside, impartial investigator. Anything less supports the Alleged Offender’s right of litigation.
The so-called “2016 Incident” plays a major role in this Complaint. In order for the Alleged Offender to mount a proper defense, the Society shall provide to the Alleged Offender all documentation regarding the “2016 Incident”, the expulsion from the Society of Ross Sinclair, the amendments made to section G24 of our Policy Manual after the fact, and any other documents relating to Ross Sinclair. This shall include e-mail exchanges between Board members concerning those issues, e-mail exchanges with members of the Disciplinary Committee, minutes of all Board meetings where the issues were discussed, including those meetings held in camera, and any Reports made by Committees relevant to those issues.
The Complainant shall supply copies of all e-mails and other correspondence concerning any aspect of this Complaint between her and two other persons named in this Complaint, namely Paul Heath and Nicole Mortillaro, as well as between her and any Board members.
The Complainant shall also supply copies of all e-mails and other correspondence concerning any aspect of this Complaint involving unnamed persons referred to within the Complaint, but whose communications are not supported with evidence, including contact information for each person in question.
The Alleged Offender is willing to stipulate that all such documentation will be shared with the Independent Investigator, but with no one else unconnected to this Complaint, with the proviso that should matters escalate to litigation, such documentation may become material evidence and be entered into the public record.
In case it hasn’t already been made clear, the Alleged Offender vehemently and categorically denies any and all accusations set out against him in the Formal Complaint filed December 17, 2018.
The Alleged Offender also vehemently asserts that the Formal Complaint be dismissed in whole and in part. Although an apology should certainly be forthcoming from the Complainant, the Board of Directors, and the Society they represent, the Alleged Offender recognizes that would require even more communication with the Complainant, which is the last thing he desires, now or ever.
Sincerely, Glenn Hawley, RASC
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