The 1996 Annual General Meeting was held in the International Student Centre, at U. of T., on the afternoon of May 4. This is a brief description, beginning with the more formal matters, and concluding with some general matters of interest. (Copies of the complete Minutes, reporting discussions of the items, are available from the SfP office.)
The Report of the Nominating Committee was presented by Chandler Davis. On the basis of its recommendations, as well as a nomination from the floor, six brand new members were elected to the Board of Directors: Tony Arrott, Jonathan Borwein, Helmut Burkhardt, Myron Gordon, Angelo Mingarelli and Jean Smith. In addition, eight members were re-elected for further two-year terms: Walter Dorn, Shirley Farlinger, Peter Nicholls, Alan Slavin, Metta Spencer, Craig Summers, Henry Wiseman and Gerhard Stroink. (The Nominating Committee also made recommendations regarding the table officers of the Executive. These were adopted by the Board Meeting that followed the AGM, with the elections of Peter Nicholls as President, Eric Fawcett as Vice-President, Helmut Burkhardt as Secretary and Ian Russell as Treasurer.)
The outgoing President, Eric Fawcett, commented on his written report. He drew attention to the projects and accomplishments of the past year, but also expressed disappointment that there were not more members actively contributing to these initiatives. He drew attention to the impressive research programmes directed by Walter Dorn (for whom a new position as “Research Officer” was created by the subsequent Board meeting), and thanked also Jenny Scazighino and Peter Shepherd for their generous voluntary assistance during the past year.
The Treasurer, Ian Russell, submitted both a final financial statement for the year ending March, 1995, and a preliminary statement for that ending this March. He pointed out, with respect to the latter, that our expenses had substantially outstripped our income, but that some uncertainties, especially concerning the cash flow of our publishing activities, made it unclear how serious that was. Fund-raising activities and/or an expanded membership will be required to support the proposed level of activities. He thanked Karen Laughton and Geeta Khosla for their assistance.
After some discussion, Ken McFarland was reappointed as auditor. The Nominating Committee for the coming year was elected: Terry Gardner (Chair), Metta Spencer and Chandler Davis.
Written reports were received from Walter Dorn (as former Vice-President and as SfP’s U.N. representative), and from Frank Cunningham concerning the operations of the Franz Blumenfeld Peace Fund, as well as from several of our Working Groups: those on Human Rights, Climate Change, CBW Prevention, Scientific Cooperation with Cuba and Electronic Surveillance. (Copies of these reports, and those mentioned previously, may be obtained by contacting the SfP office.) These were discussed, along with a statement by Alan Phillips on behalf of the Working Group on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.
John Valleau reported to the AGM about an important organizational initiative that had been adopted by the Board. This consists of a determined plan to grow SfP into a larger and more active organization, better able to support research and to influence public and governmental opinion. In the long-run vision we would support a full-time Executive Director to coordinate our efforts. This is clearly ambitious. The opportunity to succeed depends on the willingness of Carolyn Langdon to share the gamble with us. Carolyn has been an outstanding organizer with Voice of Women and with DEC, and is a dedicated activist for peace and justice. She is willing to join us, on a part-time basis at the start, working with us toward realising these goals. (This plan was still tentative at the time of the AGM, but is now settled and gets underway in July!)
Shirley Farlinger reported on the very successful “Retreat” held in Bolton in March, which has helped to set our agenda for the coming year; (there was also a written report). Many important messages to the Retreat arrived from members who were unable to attend. Shirley stressed that the event had proved enjoyable as well as valuable, and that there was an intention to hold further such Retreats.
Metta Spencer reported on a major current initiative, that of organizing an International Conference on the “Lessons of Yugoslavia”. This Conference (approved by the Board in February) is meant not to review the sorry history, but rather to concentrate on proposing and debating concrete measures to alleviate or prevent further such internal strife. It is proposed for next February, at UofT. Preliminary preparations have gone extremely well. Most of the proposed participants have already accepted; they include many thinkers from the region of conflict itself, and also Michael and Andrew Ignatieff and Margaret Papandreou. (The Conference will be dedicated to George and Alison Ignatieff. George was of course the Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia, and later President of SfP.) Funding is necessary if the Conference is to go ahead, and the Committee is presently seeking the necessary grants.
John Valleau, Secretary 1995-96