From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1996:

TORONTO––A Divisional Court ruling by Justice
Edward Saunders is expected soon as to whether the Toronto
Humane Society must release to the public copies of the
pound contract it holds with the City of Toronto.
Claiming a need to protect the security of animals
and staff, THS has appealed a December 29, 1995 order
from Tom Mitchinson, assistant commissioner of the
Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario, to release
both the current contract, signed in 1995, and the contract
that preceded it, signed in 1985, with an automatic annual
renewal clause that will expire on July 31.
The Toronto City Council on March 5 authorized
the negotiation of another one-year renewal, over the objection
of Councillor Pamela McConnell, who held the THS
board seat reserved for the City Council from November 30,
1994 to February 7 of this year.

“I cannot continue to serve a board that operates
under a veil of secrecy,” McConnell said in her resignation
statement. “All documents pertaining to the society, of whatever
significance, are marked ‘confidential.’”
McConnell alleged specifically that, “In requesting
information about a law suit in which the society was
engaged,” against former staffer Holly Penfound, now on the
staff of fellow Toronto councillor John Tabuns, “my questions
were met with hostility and the closure of discussion.”
Further, McConnell charged, “My items have
failed to appear on agendas; minutes I corrected never
appeared in corrected form; letters I have tabled were not circulated
to board members, and my request in December for a
list of the addresses of my fellow board members was not provided.
Perhaps of most consequence,” McConnell concluded,
“Financial reports have been vague. When I have
requested more financial detail, I was refused the information
and was censured for requesting the information at all.”
McConnell also received two letters dated
September 15, 1995, from attorney Howard Levitt on behalf
of THS. According to Levitt, “various of your fellow board
members” were “extremely disturbed” that McConnell in
their view “appeared to threaten them to the effect that if they
did not withdraw the society’s lawsuit” against Penfound,
“they would lose the support of Councillor Tabuns and other
Councillors both at the next round of contract negotiations,”
and “in other dealings between the society and Toronto city
Added Levitt, “We trust you will raise Councillor
Tabuns’ apparent conflict of interest in the event that he
attempts to participate in future debates or voting regarding
the Toronto Humane Society.”
The suit against Penfound was filed two weeks after
the Toronto city council defeated Tabuns’ July 24 motion,
“That the City establish a process to ensure that the Toronto
Humane Society is publicly accountable to City residents who
use their services, and to establish a complaint process as a
mechanism to address those concerns as they arise.”
Counsellor Tom Jacobek was appointed to the THS
board to replace McConnell.
“In arguing before the privacy commission against
the release of its city contract,” Toronto Globe and Mail
columnist John Barber reported February 1, “THS invoked
no less an authority than John Thompson, director of the
Mackenzie Institute, an antiterrorism think tank located in
Toronto. ‘The threat to the Toronto Humane Society is real,’
Mr. Thompson wrote in a letter to the society. ‘Animal welfare
facilities in Europe have been attacked, and there is no
reason to believe that Canadian shelters are immune.’”
Added Barber, “If a reporter phones THS
spokesman Jack Slibar to ask what’s happening, the prime
information they receive is a fax entitled ‘Mackenzie
Intelligence Advisory: The Animal Rights Movement in
Canada.’ Mr. Slibar is a research fellow of the Mackenzie
Institute,” begun in 1986 by 1978 British immigrant Maurice
The IRA? “In most every other city,” wrote Barber on
February 22, “the pound is pretty basic stuff. In Toronto, it’s
as political as the Irish Republican Army,” a startling charge
in a city so quiet as to be nicknamed ‘Toronto the Good.’
Tugwell, after a stint training security forces for the
late Shah of Iran, “was an active propagandist of considerable
notoriety during his stint with the British army in
Ireland,” reported Edward S. Herman and Gerry O’Sullivan
in their 1989 volume The Terrorism Industry, subtitled The
Experts and Institutions That Shape Our View of Terror.
Herman and O’Sullivan cite media accounts crediting
Tugwell with concocting a 1972 tabloid story about IRA
members using dogs for target practice. The story covered for
British troops in Belfast who killed barking dogs to facilitate
quiet patrols of Catholic neighborhoods.
The Mackenzie Institute “intelligence advisory”
purports to identify “hard leftists” and “a large anarchist faction”
within animal rights groups. Few purported anarchists
and hard leftists are named; those who are have little or no
association with the named groups. Copies obtained by ANIMAL
PEOPLE, dated October 1991 and January 1993,
faxed from THS, differ little from one another. Their most
remarkable aspect is that THS is distributing them.
The political history of THS may explain that. Four
supporters of a more aggressive approach to animal protection
won election to the 16-member THS board in June 1986,
enabling president Vicki Miller and newly named vice president
Steve Best to proceed with majority support. A month
later, headlines in the Toronto Star announced their alleged
“radical coup.”
Miller, already on the THS board for some time,
was also national coordinator of Ark II, an animal rights
advocacy group she founded in 1984. Later that year she
made headlines with a 30-day hunger strike against Heart and
Stroke Foundation funding of animal research. The strike
ended with her collapse.
Best was an architect of International Fund for
Animal Welfare and International Wildlife Coalition opposition
to sealing.
“The fundamental change is that we no longer see
ourselves as a pest control agency,” Miller told the S t a r.
“We have the beginnings, the seed, of what could be an
incredibly effective animal protection organization.”
The Miller and Best team included Toronto Star
nature columnist Barry Kent MacKay, now program director
for the Animal Protection Institute, and many other noted
Ontario animal advocates. They fought greyhound racing,
factory farming, the proposed opening of a dolphinarium in
Toronto, sealing, and the fur trade. They also tried to secure
themselves against a counter-takeover by reducing the board
from 16 members to five.
Objected Jake McLoughlin, Miller’s predecessor as
president, “I don’t believe it was ever the intention of the
people who founded the society to fund the more radical animal
protectionists and to get involved in concerns, however
legitimate, such as the fur trade or the seal hunt.”
McLoughlin and Bob Hambley, Best’s predecessor
as vice president, successfully challenged the board reduction
in court. They held in part that activists had packed the THS
voting membership with nonresidents of the Toronto area.
Miller, meanwhile, was handicapped by chronic
fatigue syndrome and the Toronto animal sheltering contract,
signed by the McLoughlin/Hambley administration, which
took effect on November 30, 1985. Underbidding to avoid
losing the contract to laboratory animal suppliers, THS has
received $726,000 per year since 1985 to handle animals
impounded by Toronto Animal Control, but has operated at a
cumulative loss through 1994 of $9.2 million.
Miller hoped to avoid the losses by introducing a
vigorous low-cost neutering campaign. Indeed, Toronto
Animal Control impoundments, counting dogs, cats, and
wildlife, fell from 13,757 in 1986 to 8,210 in 1992. But the
reductions were not enough to offset rising costs. THS
expenditure per animal jumped from $53 in 1986 to $83 a
year later, leveled off during the rest of Miller’s administration,
and after her departure due to failing health, averaged
$105 in 1991-1992.
The Toronto Massacre
The new programs were supposed to become selfsustaining,
but start-up costs contributed to a 1987 THS
deficit of $2 million, triple the 1986 deficit, followed by a
deficit of $1.5 million in 1988. For 1989, the deficit was
below the 1986 level––but the balance of power shifted at the
June 1990 board meeting, at which one heated
topic of discussion was apparently a program
staff effort to unionize, motivated in
part by friction with executive director
Kathleen Hunter, the sole management survivor
of the Miller era.
Penfound, MacKay, Liz White,
and Tita Zeirer were dismissed the next day.
Fellow staffers Bonnie Walker and Anne
Livingston resigned in protest. Miriam
Hawkins was fired the next week. Cruelty
investigators Rob Laidlaw and Donna Wilson
and program staffer Joan Henry were dismissed
in July. Antifur campaign coordinator
Ainslee Willock resigned.
Losing “program people” cut the
1990 THS deficit to $251,215, less than half
the next lowest deficit of the past 10 years.
White, Zeirer, and many of the
others promptly formed the Animal Alliance
of Canada, now the leading animal rights
advocacy organization in Canada. Willock
organized the Canadian Alliance for
Furbearing Animals under the Animal
Alliance umbrella. Penfound and Laidlaw
founded ZooCheck Canada––and Penfound
sued THS for wrongful dismissal. Her case
was settled out of court in May 1994––but
essentially the same allegations THS made
against her in 1990 were apparently raised
again in the case THS filed last summer. The
central issue seems to be alleged unauthorized
disclosure of information about THS.
Pending is Penfound’s motion for dismissal
of the current case, on grounds the substance
of it was already decided.
The 1990 Toronto Massacre, as it came to be
known, didn’t in itself change the THS philosophy. In 1987
THS barred from board membership anyone working in the
fur, animal research, meat, pet, and animal entertainment
industries, along with people who hunt, trap, or fish, and
also barred their spouses. In March 1991, with Hambley’s
support, THS extended the bar to exclude such persons and
their spouses from general membership––and excluded, too,
anyone living more than 37 miles from Toronto.
“If you want to be involved in the humane movement,”
said Hambley, “you have to take a stand.”
Indigenous Survival International, formed with
Canadian government support to defend the fur trade, immediately
protested to the Toronto mayor’s committee on community
and race relations.
“Members of the native trapping community will be
ineligble to become members of THS,” charged ISI executive
director David Monture, backed by briefs from the Fur
Institute of Canada and the Fur Trade Association of Canada.
The mayor’s committee found in ISI’s favor, recommending
revocation of the Toronto pound contract if THS
failed to recant the restrictions.
Information on THS board proceedings has been
scarce ever since, loosely coinciding with Slibar’s arrival.
What is known is that the THS annual deficit doubled to
$513,137 in 1991, rose to $1.6 million by 1993, and tapered
off in 1994 at nearly $1.4 million. Animal intakes rose by
nearly 2,000 from the 1991 low through 1994, but the average
cost per animal fell from $110 to $85––about the same
level as in 1987, despite a marked decrease in the buying
power of the Canadian dollar.
Meanwhile, in June 1992, Slibar persuaded the
Toronto city council to abandon an effort to enforce a virtual
ban on the use of leghold traps within city limits. Slibar
argued, against the view of the Animal Alliance of Canada,
that new Ontario provincial regulations were “sufficiently
strong to deal with the matter.”
THS has subsequently opposed most other proposed
measures to strengthen Ontario and Canadian animal protective
legislation, and is accused of circulating rumors that
AAC and ZooCheck are attempting a takeover of the Ontario
Humane Society, whose antifur activism was target of a 1990
“analysis” and “counter communications strategy” prepared
by the Fur Institute of Canada.
Calling for an approach to silencing OHS similar to
the approach taken against THS, the FIC strategy document
boasted in conclusion, “Negative publicity surrounding THS
is now self-sustaining…This achievement has resulted from
the cooperation and actions of FIC, the Aboriginal Trappers
Federation of Canada, the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, the Fur
Trade Association of Ontario, Project North, Indigenous
Survival International, the Canadian Wildlife Federation, the
Ontario Trappers Association, the Ontario Federation of
Anglers and Hunters, Trappers International Marketing
Service, the Chiefs of Ontario, the University of Toronto,
and Citizens for Medical Research along with many other
individuals and organizations.”

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