Winnipeg Exploring Bid
for 2023 NASFiC

Terry Fong, chair of the former Winnipeg in 2023 Worldcon bid, has announced the committee is now considering a bid for the 2023 NASFiC. The WSFS rules provide for a North American Science Fiction Convention when the Worldcon is held outside North America. Fong’s press release invites comment:

Given the strong show of support with the at-con vote at DisCon III, and the encouragement we have received from a plethora of fans, the Winnipeg in 2023 Worldcon Bid Committee has decided to look into bidding for the first ever Canadian NASFiC in Winnipeg, MB.

Leading this exploratory effort will be Robbie Bourget and Linda Ross-Mansfield.

We welcome all comments on this. Should anyone be so inclined, we have set up an e-mail to receive comments: nasfic@winnipegin2023.ca

67 thoughts on “Winnipeg Exploring Bid
for 2023 NASFiC

  1. I was thrilled about the idea of a Winnipeg Worldcon. But after the attempted machinations at the DisCon III Business Meeting, it’s difficult for me to feel any enthusiasm for a Winnipeg NASFiC bid, unless the people who were involved in that underhanded coup attempt have promised not to be involved in any way… which, honestly, I don’t believe will be the case.

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. 😐

  2. I agree with you, JJ. I think I mentioned elsewhere that my enthusiasm for a future Winnipeg Worldcon bid had been chilled by their machinations (I think I used shenanigans, but machinations captures it better) . That also goes for a NASFIC bid.

  3. @JJ They’ve already gone back on, or ignored, that promise, by having Terry Fong send out the announcement.

    Yes, it says Robbie Bourget and Linda Ross-Mansfield will be leading the exploratory committee, but having the email be from Terry Fong sure looks like he’s involved.

  4. If there’s a new Winnipeg bid they should explain why they released the country vote totals and asked the Business Meeting to support throwing out 1,591 votes.

    I was rooting for Winnipeg to win before these actions and think it would be a great place for NASFIC or Worldcon someday. But the current bid leaders should make themselves accountable for doing things that were well outside the norm and unfair to the Chengdu bid.

  5. No, I think I’ll be one of the 1600 votes against them that they need to throw out to win.

  6. If there’s a new Winnipeg bid they should explain why they released the country vote totals

    The person who released the country vote totals was removed by the Winnipeg bid committee (and the DisCon III committee) for that action.

  7. The person who released the country vote totals was removed by the Winnipeg bid committee (and the DisCon III committee) for that action.

    I included that as something I’d like to see from the Winnipeg bid committee because they’ve never said anything about it. I know what Kevin Standlee has said about his actions because he did what I think the committee should do — say what he did and take his lumps, if there are lumps to be taken.

  8. Two clarify two matters.

    One person released the vote total in an attempt to influence the vote. It was an aberration and doesn’t reflect who he actually is. He was removed as Presiding Officer of the Business Meeting.

    Terry Fong and [?] tried to influence the voting rules while the vote was in process, effectively disqualifying some hundreds of votes. Fortunately due to the much-maligned Roberts Rules of Order it could only provide advice to the person handling the voting who, despite any pressure, chose to ignore it.

    I was and am shamed by the attempt. But it did lead to my stopping by the Chengdu table. Two years of lockdown and I’d forgotten what super people they are. And that China has more fans per capita than any other country.

  9. There is definitely a need for the Winnipeg bid committee to apologize for what they did, but let’s be accurate about it. Also, it’s not just the Winnipeg bid committee that needs to come clean.

    The Winnipeg bid committee did not release country vote totals. Kevin Standlee in his capacity as business meeting chair, did release preliminary numbers of submitted ballots by country. Personally, I think Kevin was geeky over-sharing without considering the politics. Others may feel it was more nefarious. Whatever. The facts are that Kevin was dismissed from his position as business meeting chair, apologized, took responsibility, and had the numbers taken down.

    Meanwhile, nobody has taken responsibility and apologized for the much more damaging and completely inappropriate attempt to disqualify site-selection ballots.

    The Winnipeg bid committee’s fingerprints were all over it and they need to apologize. There’s nothing to explain. They were wrong.

    It’s not just the Winnipeg bid committee. Kevin’s replacement, Donald Eastlake temporarily stepped down from his position as chair so he could argue in favor of the Winnipeg resolution. I think he needs to apologize for his own actions. Maybe others in the business meeting staff should apologize too.

    A proper apology needs to be unconditional. This is not “apologize and we’ll vote for Winnipeg for NASFic”. Apologies are needed because damage was done, and it could have been even worse.

  10. For those of us out of the loop, can you explain?

    Yes, I know I live in Winnipeg, but all I heard was that there was a genuine oddity in the appearance of those ballots – NOT, as I understand it, an oddity that meant they were illegitimate (My personal opinion is that they totally were legit, and I’ve said as much on facebook), but one worth looking into to be sure there was nothing more to it than people unfamiliar with the process. I was under the impression the request described here to remove the ballots was more on the order of “can you look into this, and remove them IF we’re right?”

    Of course, my source on that was biased to view the Winnipeg committee’s behaviour in the best possible light. (Being a committee member who wasn’t at the business meeting).

  11. Tom Becker said: “Meanwhile, nobody has taken responsibility and apologized for the much more damaging and completely inappropriate attempt to disqualify site-selection ballots.”

    The Site Selection Administrator had a conundrum: Probably the majority of ballots did not include a street address, just City, sometimes Province, and all the same postal code. He consulted various people (including me as WSFS division head): some of whom said they were valid, some of whom said they were not.

    In the end, he concluded the ballots were valid. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. And he has nothing to apologize for.

  12. Okay, it looks like a bunch of it was hashed out in the 27th’s Pixel Scroll? I’m going to read through that, and see if I’m not well answered before I come back here. (Though if others post other links, I’m no averse to looking through those too)

  13. @Tom Becker

    Kevin Standlee in his capacity as business meeting chair, did release preliminary numbers of submitted ballots by country.

    This is not accurate, and not fair to Kevin. He didn’t do it in his capacity as Business Meeting Chair. It was in his capacity as member of the Winnipeg bid. The Chengdu bid had the same access to the numbers, and could have released them as well.

  14. bill: Although your statement is correct that both bids had a right to have the information, I think the fact also needs to be included that the country vote totals were tracked by Kevin making manual notes during the count. The Chengdu bidders would have had to capture the information the same way in order to have access to it. That kind of summary isn’t part of the site selection vote tally process.

  15. The Chengdu bid had the same access to the numbers, and could have released them as well.

    To suggest that they would is impugning everyone on that committee.

    As a friend said of Kevin’s actions, “The minute he said ‘it’s not against the rules’ I knew there was going to be trouble”. There’s no rule against it because it never occurred to anyone that someone would do it.

    [Written before Mike’s comment, posted after his.]

  16. @ Linda

    Probably the majority of ballots did not include a street address, just City, sometimes Province, and all the same postal code

    The Chinese translation only required a Province.

  17. The only thing I have to say is that Winnipeg did not have “overwhelming support”. Without litigating motives, Winnipeg was the beneficiaries of overwhelming opposition to the other bid by those at the convention. Those are NOT the same thing.

    [This isn’t throwing shade on Terry’s efforts…there definitely was bona fide support for Winnipeg as well; I just feel that the PR is dramatically misreading or mischaracterizing what happened.]

  18. AS far as I know, Kevin Standlee did his thing on his own, and I don’t think Winnipeg needs to apologize for that (That part I was aware of.)

    The business meeting thing seems… it sounds like the guy in charge of counting the votes, with the backing of Winnipeg Bid Committee members, asked for a vote on a non-binding resolution about what to do with ballots with irregularities. It looks like that PASSED, meaning that, even though it wasn’t technically binding, he could cite it as an excuse to discard ballots. He HAD the authority he sought.

    And DIDN’T use it. Because somewhere in the actual counting process, he decided they were legitimate. And probably not because he was cornered by SMOFs.

    I can see how the Winnipeg Committee members even supporting him looking for it is inappropriate, but … it doesn’t look like it translates to “They demanded the bids be thrown out”. My impression reading the thread on the 27th is that the interpretation Laurie gave is much closer to accurate than I feared, that this was closer to “These should be investigated more closely.” not “These should be thrown out on the spot.”

    Was it great behaviour? Probably not, and the people including Our Host who said Chengdu should have been there are right. (Of course, the people who said someone from Chengdu should possibly have been there regardless of these shenanigans, for their own sake, are also right). But some people here are talking like this is Dune-level political manipulation.

    (I also think comments in the thread on the 27th about this being a way to change the Constitution without a 2 year amendment process are vastly overblown, as asking for an opinion on how to interpret the existing rule while meeting a genuine irregularity are a far cry from asking the change the rule itself. Yes, even if it comes in the form of a yes/no question.)

    In any case, I am satisfied that the bids that have had doubt cast upon them are legit, and that the counting of the votes was done in good faith.

  19. Lenora Rose: I can see how the Winnipeg Committee members even supporting him looking for it is inappropriate, but … it doesn’t look like it translates to “They demanded the bids be thrown out”.

    Proposals at WSFS Business Meetings must have named sponsors who are members of the convention. The Winnipeg bid chairs were named sponsors of the resolution which was an attempt to get the votes thrown out.

  20. Personally, I think Kevin was geeky over-sharing without considering the politics. Others may feel it was more nefarious.

    Kevin came right out and said he published the country vote totals to influence the vote. In the comments on his LiveJournal post where he released the totals, a commenter raised objection to their publication and wrote:

    This is an unusual level of detail to publish at this point. Why?

    There should be nothing at this level until the voting are being counted or else it could be seen to trying to influcence the in person voters.

    Kevin responded:

    Attempting to influence the in-person voters is something that a bid committee does. It’s in the job description. I have made no secret that I’m a member of the Winnipeg committee.

  21. I also think comments in the thread on the 27th about this being a way to change the Constitution without a 2 year amendment process are vastly overblown, as asking for an opinion on how to interpret the existing rule while meeting a genuine irregularity are a far cry from asking the change the rule itself.

    Giving the Business Meeting the power to recommend an interpretation of the WSFS Constitution is an end run around the two-year process required to change anything.

    One Business Meeting shouldn’t be able to recommend what the Constitution means when their recommendation influences decisions as they are being made, such as the site selection voting process.

    DisCon III had past Worldcon practice to fall back on when deciding site selection vote disqualification. Experienced volunteers familiar with past site selection could have explained how the word “shall” was interpreted in section 4.4.1 in regard to ballots that omitted name, address, membership number or signature.

  22. rcade: okay. that makes sense to me as an explanation, and I retract my statement.

    and that was a pretty wildly horrible thing for Standlee to say, and reflects very badly on him.

    JJ:

    which was an attempt to get the votes thrown out.

    And I think this is a plausible but not sole or inevitable interpretation of the intent.

    If I saw an irregularity in a whole lot of my opponent’s ballots, and I wasn’t sure what the actual constitutional rules said should be done about it, I WOULD be going out of my way to get an official ruling on those details before I investigated. It wouldn’t mean I wanted them thrown out if they were legit.

    From rcade’s explanation, it’s clearer still that the business meeting was the wrong medium to get that interpretation, but it’s also the most public and official one, and it might have been a misguided but earnest attempt at clearing the way if the ballots were later proven illegitimate, not a desire to be rid of them without investigation.

    If in an alternate timeline, they hadn’t sought that ruling in some form and the ballots were somehow proven fakes, would they not be being castigated for discarding them without checking on the meaning of the constitutional rules?

  23. @Linda Deneroff: You’re right. Not that I meant any criticism of site-selection administration. They did the right thing in the end.

    @rcade: OK, then. Kevin was wearing his Winnipeg hat when he released the numbers. But if, as he said, he was trying to influence more members to vote, there is nothing wrong with that. Chengdu did a massive GOTV effort, only better, and it worked for them. Kevin’s campaigning for Winnipeg turned out to be incompatible with his role as business meeting chair and he took responsibility for it.

    I’m happy to accept correction, but this still does not look like Kevin was the problem. Trying to disqualify valid ballots was the problem.

  24. I won a Hugo at the 1994 Winnipeg worldcon, so am irrationally inclined favorably to the bid for the 2023 NASFiC. Also, the city has a gorgeous collection of art deco skyscrapers (well, skyscrapers by Manitoba standards).

    And if they won and I went, I’d repeat my route in 1994: train from NYC to Toronto, overnight at the Royal York, then train westward to Winnipeg.

  25. @ Lenora

    The business meeting thing seems… it sounds like the guy in charge of counting the votes, with the backing of Winnipeg Bid Committee members, asked for a vote on a non-binding resolution about what to do with ballots with irregularities. It looks like that PASSED, meaning that, even though it wasn’t technically binding, he could cite it as an excuse to discard ballots. He HAD the authority he sought.

    And DIDN’T use it. Because somewhere in the actual counting process, he decided they were legitimate. And probably not because he was cornered by SMOFs.

    The Site Selection Administrator was NOT involved.

    Two people, members of the Winnipeg committee, filed a motion advising him to include all address details. Members of the Business Meeting – this is not an exclusive group of people, any can attend – passed it as advice. The Site Selection Administrator chose not to take it.

    I don’t know but it’s a safe bet that a lot of pressure was put on him. By individuals.

    SMOFs existed when only a small group of people worked on conventions, dealt with theory, attended the Business Meeting.

  26. @ Tom

    I’m happy to accept correction, but this still does not look like Kevin was the problem. Trying to disqualify valid ballots was the problem.

    Under other circumstances Kevin would be the problem. Under these circumstances he did something outrageous but other people tried to invalidate people’s right to vote.

    Interfere with voting rights. A phrase most people in the US will have read, heard, even said.

    I’m in no way defending Kevin. But that overtook anything he did.

  27. Elspeth: Site Selection administrator Tim Szczesuil was involved. He stood as the presenter of the resolution to the business meeting. There is a video of him doing so here. Here is the transcript of his introductory remarks:

    I am the current site selection administrator. Section 4.4.1 is somewhat ambiguous with respect to what is required of the voter. The way it [looks] to me it can be read either as the ballot is required to have four items — I think it’s the name, the address, uh, the signature, and the member number, or it could be that the voter has to include that information on the ballot. I, in introducing this motion, [am] seeking the advice and recommendation of the business meeting as to what the determination is for this section.

    He askedthe business meeting’s opinion. He didn’t say beforehand he had no intention of listening to that opinion. It’s true that after the business meeting voted 47-30 to pass the resolution he did not invalidate the ballots. I’m glad he didn’t invalidate 1500+ ballots. But at the moment he introduced the resolution to the business meeting I’m certain there wasn’t anybody in the room who thought he was just wasting their time by having them vote on a policy statement he was going to disregard.

  28. It seems to me like it was hoped that the Business Meeting would overwhelmingly endorse the resolution with no significant debate; since there was significant resistance (even though the resolution passed), it became clear that invalidating ballots would be hugely controversial, and the idea of rejecting the majority of all ballots was dropped (of course, all this happened on the day that I missed the business meeting).

  29. As I understand it, the chair of the convention declared that a ballot with an email address for a postal address — which is what many of the ballots from China had — was valid. And thus, overruling the business meeting. Now, it’s quite possible that something was lost in translation, and that the younger Chinese fans don’t think of a postal address as their address. After all, nowadays most mail comes electronically. I don’t think Winnepeg questioning a nontraditional ballot is out of order; most of us have multiple email addresses, and it’s easy enough to create one on the fly. That said, I’d rather go to Florida in August than Winnepeg, and they really should have gone for 2024; with only a couple of months ahead of the filing deadline, Glasgow seems pretty certain, and it will give them time to recoup.

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  31. @ Mike

    Site Selection administrator Tim Szczesuil was involved. He stood as the presenter of the resolution to the business meeting.

    Good Lord, so he did! I’ve been thinking of the motion and turmoil afterwards and had totally forgotten that. Normally a motion is presented by the person moving it.

    So yes, he was involved. I don’t know him well or why he made that choice. I can say that there’d been a fair bit of contention when the ballots were being validated before the convention. Personally, if I was told that the motion was going to be made I would have thrown up my hands and said, “Fine. Let’s get an idea of what people think” but that’s me.

    Many thanks for the correction!

  32. I won a Hugo at the 1994 Winnipeg worldcon, so am irrationally inclined favorably to the bid for the 2023 NASFiC. Also, the city has a gorgeous collection of art deco skyscrapers (well, skyscrapers by Manitoba standards).

    Art deco skyscrapers sound like an excellent reason to visit, though maybe another year and for another con.

  33. Since no-one has ever asked, let me elucidate. The Site Selection head had already stated that he planned to disqualify over 1500 votes before anyone on the Winnipeg team even saw the votes in any way, shape or form. Then the Chair of the convention told him to reverse that decision. At that point, he asked Winnipeg to submit the motion that was brought to the Business Meeting. As anyone who was present for that meeting can tell you, Site Selection presented the motion that he had requested be drafted. Further, that night, we counted every single vote – Winnipeg, Chengdu and Site Selection together. The result was presented by Site Selection. I am personally offended by the assumption of everyone that Winnipeg ever suggested that the votes not be counted. At most, we agreed with the Site Selection committee that, if they were unable to validate votes, which could have included votes for Winnipeg, then they might need to remove some votes from the process or make them No Preference. That is not Winnipeg trying to invalidate votes. Because at that point neither bid committee knew how many votes from any country might be in play.

    It would have been nice if people had actually bothered to ask the questions before making wide-ranging and unsupported assumptions.

  34. Robbie Bourget:

    “That is not Winnipeg trying to invalidate votes.”

    Even by your description, it is.

  35. Robbie,

    It would have been nice if people had actually bothered to ask the questions before making wide-ranging and unsupported assumptions.

    I’m fairly well connected and I did ask questions. And everyone I asked apparently considered that even the fact that there had been things going on behind the scenes was privileged. As it was even people who usually know at least that something was going on didn’t.

    There’d already been an attempt to influence the vote. A motion suggesting strict requirements, if followed, would have disqualified many of the Chinese votes. Winnipeg Chairs wrote the motion. Seen in that light it was an attempt to throw out votes.

    Under different circumstances – the motion being made earlier, Winnipeg not tainted, having the Chinese write the motion – it would have been seen as what it was. Asking the Business Meeting for advice when it’s a controversial vote isn’t just reasonable, it’s to be encouraged.

    The one bit of good news in all of this is that there was absolutely NO suggestion that everyone on the Winnipeg suggested or wished that the votes be thrown out. The bad news is something no one would wish: people are seen as bad actors and even with facts changing that is very difficult.

    In my semi-professional opinion if the announcement hadn’t been on the heels of DisCon it would have gone more smoothly, perhaps only passing comments on the controversy. Certainly the person thought to try to hijack the vote shouldn’t have announced it. Water under the bridge.

    None of that changes the fact of what you’re dealing with, including feeling offended. Robbie, it must be awful for a lot of people and I’m sorry.

  36. So, Site Selection team validates the votes – period. Site Selection asked for a motion to get the sense of the meeting. Site Selection presented that motion. Site Selection had the tellers from both bids count all the votes. Winnipeg never told Site Selection to invalidate anything. We did say that, if they felt that a full address was necessary then they might have to invalidate all mail in ballots without such. This because Tim pointed out that on site voting always had the people there reminding people to complete the mailing address in full before submitting their votes. Winnipeg was happy to leave such matters to the Site Selection people as that is what they were selected to do. If that says to you that Winnipeg tried to have votes invalidated, you are weird.

  37. This new information is rather startling. I’m glad MRK was able to overrule the business meeting resolution.

  38. At most, we agreed with the Site Selection committee that, if they were unable to validate votes, which could have included votes for Winnipeg, then they might need to remove some votes from the process or make them No Preference.

    However this does sound as if Winnipeg was perfectly happy with things as they were. That some Winnipeg votes would be removed or made No Preference is very small in balance to the number of votes for Chengdu. Being happy with it is not actively trying to suppress votes but in your version it sounds as if the Winnipeg Chairs were pressured to make the motion. The above seems to indicate that being asked gave them the chance.

    Remember, ” on site voting always had the people there reminding people to complete the mailing address in full before submitting their votes” does not apply to off site voting. And very few of the Chinese were there.

    Again, I really wish you’d waited a while before announcing. It’s less than a month since all of this happened and getting things sorted takes time. Perhaps more important there haven’t been any conventions where people can thrash things out.

    I dunno, a website announcing the bid, whatever other information you have right now, and that the site will become active in April or something? I’d like Winnipeg to have a better chance than it seems to have right now.

  39. If I read the statement correctly, it was a “we are thinking about bidding” not a “we are bidding”. I suppose to people who don’t read properly, it might have somehow meant the same thing but it certainly did not in our minds. Why only thinking? Well, we would clearly not need the entire Convention Centre, if at all. We would not want to put our dates directly opposite Chengdu as that would be unfair in the extreme. Therefore, we would need to look at what, if any, dates were feasible for a bid before progressing to actually bidding. Equally, we did want to know what the 800+ people who did vote for Winnipeg wanted to have happen, whether such a bid would interest them, etc.

  40. I am personally offended by the assumption of everyone that Winnipeg ever suggested that the votes not be counted.

    It’s not an assumption. It’s a fact. The resolution signed by the Winnipeg chair and vice chair was a suggestion that votes not be counted. Here’s the text:

    That it is the sense of the WSFS Business Meeting that any Site Selection ballot that does not contain a Membership Number, Name, Signature, and Address that meets the country of origin’s requirements should be counted as “No Preference.”

    It sounds like the site selection area head wanted to use the Business Meeting to persuade the convention chair to allow the 1,591 votes to be disqualified, handing the victory to Winnipeg.

    When Winnipeg’s chair and vice chair agreed to co-sign that resolution, they made the site bid part of this effort.

    I’m glad to hear that some people involved in the Winnipeg bid did not want all those votes thrown out.

  41. Bartimaeus wrote:

    “This new information is rather startling. I’m glad MRK was able to overrule the business meeting resolution.”

    For clarification, MRK was one of the people consulted BEFORE the business meeting convened. As I said upstream, we consulted with several people.

  42. @Robbie Bourget–

    If I read the statement correctly, it was a “we are thinking about bidding” not a “we are bidding”. I suppose to people who don’t read properly, it might have somehow meant the same thing but it certainly did not in our minds.

    Yeah, obviously people who come to conclusions from your words that you now wish they hadn’t are “people who don’t read properly.” Not even “people who misread.” Nope. Flat out, “people who don’t read properly.” (Emphasis added)

    Not the way to win friends. Possibly a way to influence people, though.

  43. If I read the statement correctly, it was a “we are thinking about bidding” not a “we are bidding”. I suppose to people who don’t read properly, it might have somehow meant the same thing but it certainly did not in our minds.

    You’re correct, it is “looking into” but it was taken as what that statement has always meant: we’re putting a claim on this year and will have details later. Terry wrote the standard press release and claiming a year is perfectly fine. It doesn’t preclude other people bidding, it’s just getting out there first.

    I think what’s going on is that there’s a disconnect between various members of the bid so we’re getting mixed messages. It’s early days.

  44. Robbie Bourget:

    “Winnipeg was happy to leave such matters to the Site Selection people…”

    Obviously not. If so, they wouldn’t have tried to get the Business Meeting involved.

  45. Hampus:

    Obviously not. If so, they wouldn’t have tried to get the Business Meeting involved.

    Robbie, earlier:

    At that point, he [Tim] asked Winnipeg to submit the motion that was brought to the Business Meeting. As anyone who was present for that meeting can tell you, Site Selection presented the motion that he had requested be drafted.

    This sounds like Winnipeg didn’t try to get the business meeting involved. It sounds like the Tim used the two Winnipeg bid committee members for a thing he, not they, wanted to do.

  46. And from someone Not Robbie involved in the Winnipeg stuff, I get the impression the reason they decided to announce now was because they got an unusually high number of votes FOR Winnipeg, even in the face of the Chengdu landslide, and they hoped this translated to at least some enthusiasm FOR Winnipeg as a site. So they wanted to strike while the interest was still there, which meant announcing fast.

    I think anyone looking for art deco towers in downtown Winnipeg is going to be disappointed. The former TD building is handsome, but the others are standard. There are a number of really nice buildings, but not the towers and few art deco style.

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