Members take matters into their own hands as troubled Society’s conduct raises eyebrows

MONTREAL,(RUSHPRNEWS) March 20, 2008- The patience level of many members at the Montreal SPCA has been tested to its limits in the days, weeks and months following the Society’s failure to produce an Annual General Meeting.

Normally, the AGM is held in October or November of each year. Aside from its many other troubles of late: Overall negative press and accusations of financial mismanagement, the apparent avoidance to confront the Society’s membership has clearly contributed to the growing frustration in and outside of the CSPCA’s front doors.

Neil, Halsey was just one such member who decided he had had enough.  As a recent former director of the board, Halsey was familiar with the Society’s by-laws and knew that by rallying  members, they could force the Society into holding a Special Meeting. The focus of the meeting would be to elect directors to fill empty seats and to affirm or replace directors who were up for re-election.

There was a catch. How would Halsey get in touch with other CSPCA members?
After seeking legal counsel, Halsey was advised that according to the Corporations Act, article 223, all he needed to do was ask for the membership list. His lawyer advised that members of corporations are entitled to the membership list of the organizations they belong to.

Following up on his lawyer’s advice, Halsey sent a request to Executive Director, Pierre Barnoti, requesting a response within several days. His request was ignored. Halsey made a second attempt, this time through his lawyer, citing the article that entitled members access to the list. The CSPCA lawyer responded by informing Halsey that there was no problem allowing him access, but he could only come and look at the list-No copies allowed. Understanding the challenge ahead, Halsey sent a crew of three CSPCA members to the Society on March 17th to “look” at the list, while furiously taking notes under the watchful eyes of  Pierre Barnoti, Donald Smith, Assistant to Barnoti, and Controller, John Saba. The administrative team watched intently for three hours as the crew tried to capture as many of their fellow member’s names in the limited time allowed, so they could inform their co-members of the upcoming meeting to elect directors.

Eleven days prior, Halsey had sent his formal request to hold the Special Meeting, to CSPCA board Vice-President and Secretary, Nancy Breitman.

The following day when Halsey followed up with Breitman, she let him know that the rest of the board had been informed of his request at their board meeting the evening before, held on March 6th, 2008. The administration and majority of the board wanted to run it by their lawyer before responding.

On the evening of March 17th, Breitman informed Halsey that her own lawyer had advised her that she, as Vice-President of the CSPCA and the recipient of the petition, had the legal obligation to honour the 57 member petition to hold the meeting, despite the administration and board’s attempts to create clear obstacles by withholding the membership list.

Furthermore, Breitman was informed by her legal counsel that according to the CSPCA by-laws, she had the authority to act upon this request, with or without the approval of the board of directors.

Breitman sent Halsey a letter calling the meeting. The mailing was sent out on March 19th as required by the CSPCA by-laws, in order to inform members 20 days before the date of the meeting of April 9th, 2008.

The notice advised members who wish to vote, to bring proof that their memberships are up-to-date. The meeting will be held at Segal Center, 5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine, Montréal, QC, on April 9th, 2008 at 6:30.
French media:  Paul-Andre Cyr
English media: Neil Halsey
Phone: 514-560-3348


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