CFI Canada gets a shake-up, comes clean

After receiving some flak (some of it merited, some of it not) over my article indicating my worry that the CFI’s Board of Directors was fractured over Justin Trottier’s dismissal, and that this fact alone demanded that the organization come clean to members regarding the details. While I had managed to get a few details of what was happening, it was clear from every other article out there that no one was 100% aware of the facts, and this was precisely my original complaint. A lack of transparency was the crux of the problem, demonstrating that that the board was susceptible to outside influence and could fall victim to a situation similar to what transpired:

On November 21, Derek Pert wrote to the board requesting that he be terminated with severance. Derek indicated that he thought he lacked sufficient support from the board to carry out his duties. The board held an emergency meeting on the evening of Wednesday, November 23. At that meeting the board passed a motion confirming that Derek had full authority to carry out the responsibilities associated with the position of National Executive Director.

There followed a motion to terminate Derek Pert with severance of $50,000. The motion was made by Michael Gardiner. The motion was properly seconded and a vote was taken. The motion failed 6-3, with Michael Gardiner, Ian McCuaig, and board chair Carol Parlow voting for the motion.

Late on the night of November 23, Derek Pert submitted a letter of resignation. On November 24, in quick succession, directors Michael Gardiner and Ian McCuaig and board chair Carol Parlow submitted their letters of resignation.

That doesn’t sound fucking sketchy at all. Former board member Ian insists the motion was done as a symbolic gesture, but this whole affair smells like a major scam. You don’t play around with member money, especially when there is so much at stake.

As for what the future holds, I’m not sure Justin should come back. His presence could further divide members who already had to pick camps (trust me, I read all about their opinion in the comment section) and it could have the appearance of impropriety. I think, however, that the opportunity is there for a lot of exciting changes to happen. I do agree that CFI’s mission hasn’t always been clear, and increased professionalism would benefit their image. I also think that they need to increase their media strategy, and have professional press people that could represent secular issues in the news (both local and national). It’s time to get serious and show everyone that CFI can thrive in the face of a crisis. The Simpsons have a word for this kind of thing: crisitunity!

Comments (4)

  • avatar

    Ian M

    “A lack of transparency was the crux of the problem, demonstrating that that the Board was susceptible to outside influence…”

    You say things that are almost entirely meaningless and not based in facts. The Board controls CFI. The Board invites new members to sit when old members leave. I personally have been connected to CFI in a variety of ways for over 4 years. I’ve made web sites, stuff envelopes and volunteered for a few things. When I learned that Justin was running for the Green Party, I met with him for two hours, recounted my own election experience and offered some thoughts about how he could capitalize on the experience.

    Just because the Board wasn’t doing things that Justin and his fans fully approve of, doesn’t speak to any outside influence. The claim that lack of transparency was the problem is idiotic and without foundation.

    You have claimed on this blog to have contacted all the Board members, but you never contacted me and asked for information. I’m guessing you like to embellish a little for dramatic effect. That’s the real problem, organizations which depend on volunteers are susceptible to drama and rumours. When you don’t like a decision, all you have to do is create some drama, make up a few stories and let the turmoil unfold. It’s made easier if you have some friends with a blog. Lack of transparency was never a problem. I responded to lots of emails and requests for information. You simply made no effort because it was easier to publish the nonsense you were being fed and it probably satisfied your desire for some drama.

    I left the Board immediately after Derek because his departure represented a failure of the effort to establish more professional management practices. I’ll let the others speak for themselves, but the sentiment is probably the same. No one wanted to change what CFI does, just improve the effectiveness. If you attended the recent Randi event in Toronto, you’d know what I mean. It was a nice event that wasn’t held in a U of T auditorium. It was presented in a way that would attract an adult audience to come back and bring some friends next time, rather than looking like a student production. And, it made money. Derek achieved that with professional management, I hoped he would be able to apply his skills broadly.

    The Board couldn’t find the unity it needed to let him get on with business. He left, I followed. Maybe now the Board can get themselves together and get something done. I’d keep my eyes peeled for more resignations though. Maybe I’m just a pessimist though.

  • avatar


    This Ian character needs to keep feeding his ego. Few care about this issue, his biased comments or CFI in general. Time to get a new hobby. He seems a little freakishly obsessed LOL.

  • avatar

    Ian B

    PASAT4U loves hypocrisy.

  • avatar



    Two who wanted CFI to push skepticism over secularism. When they were skeptical about whether that would ever happen they jumped ship. Don’t worry! There a lots of fun skeptics in the pubs to join fella’s! That’ll get your message out there!

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