Prior to the 2021 AGM, a number of Members of the RASC approached me and urged me to run for a position on the RASC National Board, hoping to raise a voice of reason and moderation within that body.
The Board acted by first increasing the number of candidate recommendations necessary from three members to five (this for a body that persistently has had problems filling all nine positions) and changed the Policy Manual to require each Candidate to be approved by the Board. In combination with the earlier Board decision to remove term limits for Board members, this allows the existing Board to, in large measure, determine the makeup of any successor Board… arguably a very undemocratic situation.
So the Board blocked my candidacy, despite my fulfilling all the requirements to run for election.
Then the Board, with the exact same criteria used to justify blocking my candidacy, suspended my membership entirely, as seen below. That gave the National Board a pretext to exclude me from the AGM Zoom meeting, and offered a method to shut down any attempt to nominate me ‘from the floor’, saying I was ineligible due to having been suspended. In actual fact, the Canada Not For Profit Corporations Act does not require a Board member to even be a Member of the Corporation at all. I would be surprised if Michael Watson were unaware of this fact, but he notably did not point it out at the meeting.
Below in blue is the Board’s communication to me:
The Board has always been mindful of your past service to the Society, including your roles in the executive of the Calgary Centre and on National Council, the Board of Directors, and executive positions in the Society, including two years as National President nearly a decade ago.
This past service affords you a certain degree of notoriety and credibility amongst the Membership but also demands accountability for your actions. As Voltaire states, with great power comes great responsibility and it is not unreasonable to expect that your public voice may be construed to reflect the values of the Society and in fact there are concrete examples of such perception.
The values of the Society used to be centred around support for Astronomy and Related Sciences. It is notable that the current Board has changed our mandate and relegated Astronomy therein to a minor role as one of a shopping list of several items. Seeing the reduction in the emphasis on Astronomy may have contributed to those members having urged me to run for election to the Board. I, meanwhile, have consistently held true to the values of the Society, in contrast to the values of the current Board.
The conduct considered to be detrimental to the Society includes:
- aggressive, sarcastic, demeaning and uncivil statements to and about fellow members of the Society,
- continued evidence of microaggression in your correspondence with the Board and the Society,
The Board has not managed to quote any specific examples of my supposedly uncivil statements, and there is plenty of academic research establishing that so-called ‘microaggressions’ do not exist, and are merely pretexts used to feign offense.
I have certainly criticized some of the Board’s more extreme actions, but should the Board hold itself immune to any criticism?
In any case, the Board’s repeated actual aggressions toward me, including excluding me from the RASC mail servers and from the RASC FB group, encouraging bullying and harassment directed at me, as well as other abusive acts, far outweigh anything I’m supposed to have done.
- support of the rascrenegades.ca web site’s bullying and defamation of the Society, its Leaders and targeted Society Members,
- providing content to John Kelly that he in turn uses to continue the bullying and defamation of Members and,
I have never actually supported the ever-irascible Mr. Kelly and his website, and I actually implored the Board to be rid of him… and was treated with contempt for even having suggested seeking a resolution. Nor have I provided any content that was (or should have been) confidential, or unavailable from other sources.
While I cannot know Mr Kelly’s intentions, I can surmise that my name appears on his website as an example to demonstrate to a Court of Law a pattern of abusive behaviour on the part of the Board.
- posting and re-posting content on Social Media that demeans and threatens various individuals and groups.
Robyn Foret apparently spent hours and hours obsessively stalking me on my FaceBook account, over a period of at least two years, searching for any memes and postings he might dislike. Most of what I post is humorous, some of it dark, some of it ribald, and some of it political, but the worst that can be said of any of it is that it constitutes fair comment. Moreover, my FB profile has not (until recently) mentioned anything about the Society, and I’ve never claimed my FB postings to represent the views of the Society.
The Board even included in its denunciations a side conversation in which I unequivocally expressed my enthusiasm for the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea… I’m apparently deemed guilty of approving of a major telescope project that the Board refuses to endorse!!!
The National Board’s failure to support Astronomy in this instance may even have contributed to those members having urged me to run for election to the Board.
The attached appendix, offers details and examples of such behaviour.
No quotes identifiable as constituting ‘snide remarks’, ‘microaggressions’ or uncivil statements appear in the appendix, but I have been accused, by anonymous denunciation, of unspecified “criminal acts”, of being a “racist” or a “sexist” without any evidence or substantiation. The National Board knows, I’m quite sure, that none of these things is true, but promulgates them anyway.
The Board has also accused me of being a denier of “anthropomorphic [sic] global warming”. Aside from the obvious suffix error, I have never denied that anthropogenic warming exists, merely pointing out that the fraction of observed temperature changes that might be due to humans is poorly constrained. In addition, the fact that weather extremes and catastrophes do not historically increase or decrease with increasing or decreasing temperature trends seriously undercuts the alarmist claims of climate crisis or impending catastrophe.
Some anonymous member saying mean things about me, and some other member saying other mean things about me does not constitute an example of any of my own behaviours, but rather offers examples of my having been subject to a campaign of bullying and harassment from within the Society.
At the end of the period noted above, should the Board rule to proceed with Suspension of your Membership:
- said Suspension shall be for an indefinite period of time.
- the Board will consider terminating the suspension only upon acknowledgement by you, of your inappropriate conduct, and only if your posting of offensive, belittling, and demeaning material ceases.
- should you share the suspension materials, directly or indirectly through anyone else, with John Kelly, that will constitute ground for immediate expulsion from the Society.
- if you continue with your other offensive actions, the Board may also move to expulsion.
It is apparent that the above consists of unanswerable demands, and that it has never been the intention of the Board to lift my suspension.
I have attempted to engage with the Board (by email and by Zoom) to try to resolve the situation, but have been told that no questions will be answered and no discussion permitted.
I received a rather snarky email from Robyn Foret suggesting that if I didn’t like the direction the Society was taking, I should quit. This would of course be an alternative to staying and trying to moderate the vengeful attitudes of the Board and perhaps trying to bring the Society’s focus back to Astronomy.
In the minutes of the Annual General Meeting of 2021 we can read, on pdf page 5, how the Board blocked my being nominated ‘from the floor’ (this after blocking my nomination through regular channels), and then on page 6 complaining that since not enough volunteers were coming forward the Board took over the tasks of the Nominating Committee.
Honesty and integrity compel me to stand up for what’s right, even if I find myself standing alone. I am thus constrained from pretending that any of the Board’s requirements be reasonable. I cannot ‘acknowledge’ that which does not exist, or even cannot exist. So I consider myself to have been constructively expelled from the Society.