SF Canada Board Statement on Vote to Expel Peter Halasz

The SF Canada Board of Directors has responded to File 770’s request for comment on the vote to terminate the membership of Peter Halasz reported here yesterday.

SF Canada recently held our Annual General Meeting for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.

During our AGM a motion was made by a member to expel Peter Halasz from SF Canada “in light of various actions … incompatible with a collegial relationship with the members of SF Canada”.

Per bylaw (6) under “Conditions of Membership”:

6)    Any member may be required to resign by a three-quarters (3/4) majority vote at the annual general meeting or a special general meeting, for any cause which the membership may deem reasonable.

Our complete bylaws can be found here: https://www.sfcanada.org/bylaws/

The motion to expel Peter Halasz was put to a vote by the membership and the motion passed, exceeding the required 3/4 supermajority.

 In direct response to the behaviour and subsequent conversations surrounding the first motion, a second member-initiated motion was created and passed:

Create a Code of Conduct and Anti-harassment Policy for SF Canada

The incoming SF Canada Board of Directors is making fulfilling the mandate of the second motion a priority.

25 thoughts on “SF Canada Board Statement on Vote to Expel Peter Halasz

  1. “in light of various actions…”? That’s not an explanation, that’s barely a placeholder!

  2. @Michael J. Lowrey–

    “in light of various actions…”? That’s not an explanation, that’s barely a placeholder!

    Yup. It was not sticking with a similarly vague placeholder, but being specific about the reasons in their public statements that resulted in Worldcon 76 having to settle with a certain individual and pay money to them. Being vague on the subject would have served them better. I suspect that the law in Canada isn’t that different, and SF Canada wants to end this, not prolong it and lose money doing so

  3. “Any member may be required to resign by a three-quarters (3/4) majority vote at the annual general meeting or a special general meeting, for any cause which the membership may deem reasonable.”

    And if the member declines to resign? Or does “required” have a particular meaning in Canadian law?

  4. Michael, speaking purely on my own behalf, I believe the board’s reasoning was sound and the judgment was fair. Further and more detailed public discussion or provision of details will do Peter Halasz no good whatsoever, so I think the board of SF Canada is being appropriate both from that perspective and from a legal perspective.

  5. In general English, “required” does not offer an option. If something is required, then you can not proceed without it. Perhaps you are thinking of requested?

  6. SF Canada has suggested that:

    members refrain from discussing the matter in public “on behalf of SF Canada” but simply, if they feel the need to speak out, do so purely as individuals expressing their own opinion. But, really, it would serve the interests of SF Canada best if only an “official” statement is released.

    However, this “official policy” and vague official statements are only aiding to make the organisation appear “suspicious”. As someone who has been a member of SF Canada for only two years and who has not served on the Board I will say the following on the issue.

    I know Peter Halasz as an acquaintance only. We have not always agreed. I believe that the demonstrated actions of Peter Halasz at the virtual AGM and on the SF Canada listserv were unacceptable and deserving of receiving negative sanctions. I believe that the accusations against Peter Halasz regarding behaviour that occurred outside of the AGM and SF Canada should have been investigated and then a motion regarding negative sanctions should have been set as an agenda item prior to the start of the AGM. I have been told by members that have served on the organisation Board that the actions taken at the AGM are the ONLY form of due process and that they are NOT the only form of due process. Either way, the due process was NOT performed in a rational-legal manner, it had the tone of a “witch-hunt”.

    And all the emotion of a “witch-hunt” with some members clambering to be the first to light the pyre. This gave the whole matter an unpleasant feel. While I firmly believe that Peter Halasz deserved to receive negative sanctions; I do not believe that he deserved to be expelled in this manner. I would have preferred a motion to bar him from the listserv and a formal investigation of the complaints against him, with the possibility of further sanctions — including expulsion. Unfortunately, the membership decided to “purge” Peter Halasz in an emotive display of mob justice. For that reason I voted against the motion.

    It is my hope that when SF Canada creates their “Code of Conduct and Anti-harassment Policy” that it is a rational-legal code and policy.

    I am a member of the Wiccan religion and I (and my family) have been persecuted by my former employer for years (including the harassment of my family and I by my former employer’s corporate partners at that employer’s request) for the “crime” of being a NeoPagan. Two years ago, I was “cancelled” by former employer for the crime of racism and Islamophobia and terminated, then briefly re-instated, and forced to retire. My actions: protecting GLBTQ+ students and Indigenous students from being harassed (including death threats) and bullied by Muslim foreign students (according to my former employer, wealthy foreign Muslim men are “the most marginalized group” in Canadian society — well, they certainly pay the highest rate of tuition…).

    I don’t like “witch-hunts” and I do not like mob justice. Peter Halasz deserved to be sanctioned; he did not deserve (without a formal investigation) to be “purged”.

    This is all that I will say of the subject of the recent AGM and Peter Halasz.

    Neil Williams

  7. Of course there’s an option – the member can refuse to submit the “required” resignation. What does the organization do then – do they sue to compel the member to submit a resignation? Why not just kick them out & be done with it?

  8. Michael J. Walsh: In their subsequent statement the board uses the word “expel” — I don’t know why the motion itself didn’t use that word.

  9. Neil Williams: I believe the text of the motion I quoted is accurate. It is in the email reporting the outcome to the membership that the word expel appears. There is no question that was the outcome the movers had in mind.

  10. SF Canada did NOT suggest “members refrain from discussing the matter in public…”

    That was MY personal suggestion to the membership on their listserv. It was entirely my own opinion, my own advice. I am not a member of the Board. I do not speak for the Board, nor for the membership. Only for myself. All members, including the Directors of the Board, are free to disregard my comments.

    I was merely offering what I considered the most sensible and practical advice I could think of, in the spirit of getting past this divisive episode and back to our mandate of encouraging and supporting Canadian genre authors. That’s my personal goal in this matter. I can’t speak for others. I’m just me.

  11. “Requiring resignation” can be done in the absence of “cause” if the members agree. If the member (who presumably agreed to their rules in order to join, refuses to submit the resignation when required, then they are in violation of that regulation and can be removed “with cause.” (The cause being they failed to provide the required resignation.) It allows for ejecting the member for cause, without needing to that that what they originally did is a violation of any existing regulation.

  12. Jon Del Arroz taught us all a recent lesson- when expelling a member is the right move, that does not necessarily mean it’s helpful to publicize the specifics behind the reasons the action was taken. Though I also know that sometimes a vagueness about the specifics can be used to protect the aggressor at the expense of the victims, so I hope that is not in play here.

  13. It appears that a supermajority of members voted to expel, so if one is a member disgruntled by the outcome, perhaps one should ask one’s fellow members why they voted the way they did?

  14. Can’t imagine how a situation such as this could be managed so as to have a “pleasant feel”.

  15. In direct response to the behaviour and subsequent conversations surrounding the first motion, a second member-initiated motion was created and passed:

    Create a Code of Conduct and Anti-harassment Policy for SF Canada

    This detail, plus the vehement support for Halasz from new-to-me names in these here parts, puts me in mind of the adage that “harassers groom allies as well as victims.”

    The other thing that occurs to me, more from reading the previous post than this one, is, whether the public dissemination of members’ private email addresses was deliberate or accidental, the harm was done–the info is now out there in the wild, the genie can’t be put back in the bottle, and members’ trust in the community is no doubt shaken. That harm cannot be undone with an apology. Members of the board may have concluded that Halasz had proven himself someone who could not be trusted with members’ private contact information, and so should have his access to that information revoked. And that strikes me a reasonable decision.

    (I am, to be clear, a member of at least three communities with confidentiality requirements, and part of the agreement I make when I renew my membership is to respect that confidentiality. To my knowledge, there are no “oops, I did it on accident” exceptions. And that’s the way it should be. It’s not about protecting the violator’s feelings and rehabilitating them. It’s about protecting members’ confidential information. Intent is irrelevant here.)

  16. I don’t know who Peter Halasz is, but I have a hard time believing that a ‘witch hunt’ could produce a 35-10 split. (A simple majority, sure, but not that kind of split).

    Also @Neil : I found your quora account and : hoo boy, that looks pretty Islamophobic to me.

  17. It was not a witch hunt, nor was it (as someone else unfamiliar with the actual process opined) some sort of star-chamber action.

    There were thirteen days of thoughtful discussion on the motion before the voting closed, and although the actual votes were anonymous, several members, both on the yay and the nay side, chose to explain at length why they voted the way they did (I did not participate in the discussions but I’ve read every one of the postings).

    The SF Canada constitution requires a supermajority of three-quarters voting yay on motions such as this one precisely to avoid any sort of kneejerk reaction before taking the extraordinary, and hitherto unprecedented, step of a expelling a member.

  18. The whole thing reads like this Peter fella is kind of a huge jerk, made a lot of personal enemies, and his slip-up in re this accidental email disclosure gave said enemies the opportunity to give him the boot. Just another datum buttressing my long-settled conclusion that high school never ends; or, if you’re unpopular enough, out you go regardless of any other consideration.

  19. I also have no trust and I am wary of Protestant fundamentalist Christian evangelists who also believe that they have the “Divine” duty to murder me and other polytheists.

    There is nothing in the teachings of Christ to support the idea that Christians have a duty to murder anyone.

  20. I come to this discussion on this forum late; however, as a former member of SFCanada, I feel strongly that the reasons for Peter Halasz being expelled was simply for asking pointed and reasonable questions regarding the financial statements and procedural matters pertaining to the recent AGM, questions, I might add, I raised. And when certain members of the board continued to obfuscate, I pressed for clarification, as did Peter, at which point we were both vilified and subjected to personal insults and attacks, rather than having our questions answered and points considered.

    It should also be noted this sort of behaviour on the part of certain members is not unique. There was one other member who was so severely misunderstood and vilified that he resigned. And outside of the organization one member employed the same bullying tactics to the point of driving an individual to severe mental breakdown.

    It should further be noted that when the board failed to deliver the required answers to questionable actions and reports, and continued to launch personal insults in my own direction, I resigned. And I will never have anything to do with SFCanada in the future.

    So, before judgements are made here in this very public forum, and Peter Halasz is further convicted, it might behoove individuals to apprise themselves of all the relevant facts, because thus far the facts have not been presented.

    Frankly, I find this sort of action reprehensible.

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