Abrupt Kathleen Hunter exit from THS recalls “Toronto Massacre”

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1997:

Hunter, Toronto Humane Society
executive director since 1986,
departed on January 25 under undisclosed
“The board agreed with the
executive of the society that she is no
longer an employee,” Toronto city
councillor Steve Ellis told Toronto
Star reporter Phinjo Gombu.
“Before the meeting, she was an
employee, but after the meeting she
wasn’t.” Ellis, who holds a THS
board seat reserved for a city representative,
claimed he could say no
more because it was “a confidential
labor relations matter.”

A police spokesperson
told Gombu that police were called
to escort Hunter from the THS building,
but Toronto THS spokesperson
Amy White denied the claim.
Hunter was the last member
of an activist slate led by Vicki
Miller that obtained a board majority
in the June 1986 THS election. The
slate was handicapped at outset by a
contract to shelter animals for
Toronto Animal Control that was
won by the previous administration,
which underbid laboratory animal
suppliers, at cost of running a perennial
deficit. Clashing often with
program staff, especially after Miller
stepped down due to chronic fatigue
syndrome, Hunter apparently
aligned herself with an anti-activist
board faction. The anti-activist faction
won the June 1990 board election
on a platform of “fiscal responsibility,”
defeating a program staff
effort to unionize.
Among at least 17 board
members and/or program staffers
who were either ousted or resigned in
the “Toronto Massacre,” as the transition
was dubbed, were vice president
Steve Best, a cofounder of the
International Wildlife Coalition;
Barry Kent MacKay, now program
director for the Animal Protection
Institute; Zoocheck Canada founders
Holly Penfound and Rob Laidlaw;
Liz White and Tita Zeirer, who with
other ex-THS staff formed the
Animal Alliance of Canada; and
Ainslee Willock, founder of the
Canadian Alliance for Furbearing
Despite temporary savings
from eliminating the program staff,
THS has continued to run deficits.
Animal control contract receipts have
reportedly risen by just 9.3% in 12
years, about a third of the inflation
rate, while the cumulative loss is
approaching $10 million.
In 1991, pressure from the
fur trade, native fur trappers, and
the Toronto mayor’s office overturned
a short-lived THS policy barring
from membership all persons
and spouses of persons involved in
blood sports and/or the fur, meat,
pet, and animal entertainment industries.
THS was then apparently taken
over by a pro-fur slate, including
Jack Slibar, a “research fellow” with
the far-right MacKenzie Institute,
who in June 1992 persuaded the
Toronto city council to quit trying to
enforce a virtual ban on leghold trapping
within city limits. The
MacKenzie Institute circulates an
“intelligence advisory” which echoes
fur trade media innuendo against the
animal rights movement.
Since 1992, THS has been
involved in a series of conflicts with
Toronto city councillors and the
Information and Privacy Commission
of Ontario over non-disclosure
of information about itself

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