Some of you may have been following me (and hopefully following the THS elections) as I was volunteering on behalf of the Faces Of Change in the election of the new board of directors for the Toronto Humane Society…
I’m pleased to re-post this article from The Toronto Star’s Brendan Kennedy. The original is HERE.
To learn more about the Faces Of Change, click HERE.
A year ago Marcie Laking was chanting “Trow must go!” outside the Toronto Humane Society.
Today, the stay-at-home mom and former animal care worker is part of the executive team tasked with rebuilding the organization in the wake of its disgraced leadership and several scandal-plagued months.
“A lot of people worked very hard to bring about change at the Toronto Humane Society and it’s just so exciting to know that the change that we have all been fighting for is very soon going to be the reality,” Laking said Sunday.
In a clear repudiation of past leadership, humane society members elected a new board of directors Sunday made up entirely of the organization’s most outspoken critics.
“Faces of Change,” the candidate slate comprised largely of members of the Association for the Reform of the THS (ART), swept all 15 positions in Sunday’s special general meeting.
“We were the only group of people running with proven hands-on experience inside the shelter … I think the membership just saw that passion,” said Laking.
The new board of directors will be meeting Monday to choose who among them will be president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary, but there are some obvious candidates:
Tennis Canada chief Michael Downey — the most high profile candidate elected — is a contender for the society’s new president, along with Peter Newell, senior partner in Ogilvy Renault LLP.
Laking, spokeswoman for “Faces of Change” and one of the fiercest critics of the former board, as well as Linda MacKinnon and Judi King — co-founders of ART — could also assume leadership roles on the new board.
Last November, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals raided the humane society, arresting former president Tim Trow and four senior managers on criminal animal cruelty charges, among other offences. The entire former board was slapped with a slew of non-criminal animal cruelty charges.
At the time, an OSPCA investigator described the humane society’s River St. shelter as a “house of horrors.”
(The OSPCA was itself embroiled in controversy earlier this month when a ringworm outbreak at its Newmarket shelter led them to announce they would be euthanizing all of their animals. It later reversed its decision.)
Trow, who was first elected society president in the early 1980s and served multiple stints, resigned in January.
“This change at the Toronto Humane Society has been a long time coming, and we’re so honoured the membership trusts us to rebuild the THS,” Laking said.
Opposing “Faces of Change” was the “Save the THS” slate — put together by the Sussex Strategy Group’s Michelle Wasylyshen — which included former Ontario solicitor general and transportation minister David Turnbull and Capital One Canada chief financial officer Felix Wu.
Sussex Strategy, a lobbying and public affairs firm, was retained by the humane society last year.
“Save the THS” was criticized during the campaign for being too closely associated with former THS leaders, a charge they denied.
“Faces of Change,” meanwhile, was made up with a largely grassroots membership — including several THS volunteers — though it also includes a lawyer and forensic accountant.
“Faces of Change” was similarly criticized for being in bed with the OSPCA, a charge it likewise denied.
Former board president Robert Hambley — the only former board member who stood for reelection — ran unsuccessfully as an independent.
The election was supervised by former judge Sydney Robins.
Computershare Investor Services Inc. acted as Scrutineer.
The society’s River St. headquarters is scheduled to reopen Tuesday under its new leadership after a seven-week overhaul to retrain staff, revise policies and give the shelter a deep cleaning.
The shelter will be accepting owner-surrendered animals on Tuesday, but not strays, wildlife or feral cats.