Oppose the revised French Bulldog Breed Standard

Follow Up to the Open Letter to French Bulldog Fanciers of Canada

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I’m sure that some of you have wondered why a changed breed standard matters so much to so many of us, so I thought I’d give you some background.

As a Canadian breeder, if I want to exhibit French Bulldogs in the Canadian show ring (and to be considered ‘ethical’), I am essentially forced to adhere to whatever changes the CKC allows breed clubs to implement, even if I consider them misguided or to the detriment of the breed. This applies to all breeders in Canada, even to those of us not given the right of membership in the National club (and it’s a long and illustrious list, including some of the top winning and longest established breeders in Canada, like myself, Dr. Dorit Fischler and Shelley St. John). We have no say in the matter, apparently – and neither do the well over 300 breeders, pet owners, veterinarians and club presidents from around the world who made our opinions known about these changes. Since these changes affect breeders, they also, by extension, affect pet owners of French Bulldogs and everyone who considers themselves to be an afficionado – or fancier – of the breed.

I’ve been told that some parties involved in pushing for this version of the standard have claimed that it will be their ‘legacy’ for the breed. What, I wonder, motivates this kind of hubris? What motivates someone to press their own personal agenda, in the face of a standard that has been roundly decried by the people most affected by it? Is a legacy of bitterness, strife, accusations of malfeasance and disregard for the potential welfare of the breed the legacy that any of us would choose to leave behind?

You would think not – or at least, you would hope not.

Lisa Ricciotti has a follow up to the controversy over the French Bulldog Fanciers of Canada vote regarding the changes they have proposed for the Canadian breed standard for the French Bulldog. Here are Lisa’s own words on the subject.

Hanging in suspense since Carol posted “An Open Letter to the French Bulldog Fanciers of Canada” on Jan. 14? Wondering what happened next? Of course you are!

Well here’s an update from me, Lisa Ricciotti, who wrote the letter on behalf of The Skeptical 17. When Carol received this letter as president of the Eastern Canada French Bulldog Club, she chose to share it publicly, along with her personal thoughts. That’s her right, and I respect her decision.

But fair’s fair. Questions raised publicly deserve to be answered publicly too. So I’ve asked Carol to share the response I received from FBFC here too.

Below is an unedited email from Karen Cram. If you want to go straight to the meat of the matter, skip the purple prose and start reading at the navy-coloured text. But if you do, you’ll miss one of the most creative defenses for one’s actions I’ve heard since Rob Ford justified why he smoked crack by saying “Probably in one of my drunken stupors.” Karen’s explanation: she was bullied by myself and Diane Dickins at the AGM, where Diane, myself and others chose to use the one occasion members are given annually to pose questions to the executive in a shared forum.

Karen says the recording of the meeting “bears witness to the fact that I was continually bullied and interrogated for two hours.” If you weren’t at the AGM and you’d like to make up your own mind about the validity of this statement, please contact (non-elected) FBFC Secretary Jan Casselman to request a copy of the AGM recording.

In her reply, Karen helpfully answers the question posed in the Open Letter about the actual vote count. You’ll remember I received different numbers from CKC than her reply at the AGM and I was confused whether the revised standard had actually passed. I don’t have to wonder any longer. In her own words, Karen definitely confirms that it did not: “Total Ballots Received Back: 35 – 22 Yes, 13 No”.

I’ll wait while you do the math. That’s right, 62.8571429% voted yes. But CKC says a revised standard must be passed by a two-third majority vote, i.e. by 66.6666667%. And just 62.9% said yes, not 66.7%. By Karen’s own report on the ballot count, the revised standard DID NOT PASS!

The Skeptical 17 originally raised questions about the validity of the membership vote because the results concern more than FBFC’s small group of members. If the revisions passed, the new standard would become the new “breed bible” of excellence for everyone who breeds, shows and appreciates French bulldogs. It will affect the entire Frenchie community. But now, after reading Karen Cram’s reply, I realize the impact doesn’t stop there.

Read the current (non-elected) VP’s account below, of exactly how the numbers needed for approval were reached—how she asked CKC to disallow a member’s vote, and it would seem the vote of this member’s husband too—and I think anyone who believes in democratic principles should be concerned too. Rule No. 1 of a fair election: No one has the right to tell others how to vote. Rule No. 2: The integrity of a vote must be respected, regardless of whether one agrees with the result. (One more issue for FBFC members: if you thought how you voted is confidential, you’re wrong. Complete details of the final vote—who voted and how they voted—were shared as an attachment to Karen Cram’s email below.)

To date no response has been offered by then-Acting President Bev Anderson, who is now the (non-elected) President. Even though all of this took place “on her watch,” as the Americans like to say. Now, to hear both sides of this issue, please read Karen Cram’s reply below. Sometimes the truth is indeed stranger than fiction. I’m a writer, but I couldn’t make up this stuff if I tried.

Lisa Ricciotti
On behalf of The Skeptical 17

From: Karen Cram [mailto:redacted]
Sent: 15-Jan-14 1:54 PM
To: ‘redacted’
Subject: RE: An Open Letter regarding the most recent vote on the Breed Standard

The audacity to post in writing, on a public blog, the insinuations and lies!!!! This one tops all others Lisa, and let me warn you that the truth and justice will prevail.

Anyone who attended the AGM bears witness to the fact that I was continually bullied and interrogated for two hours by Lisa Ricciotti and Diane Dickens. The recorded session will attest to this.

These two individuals literally “hijacked” the meeting from the start and, unfortunately, completely dominated the entire two hours that I was in attendance. The insinuations, insults and downright bullying were at times, unbearable. I was continually bombarded with questions from them and did not have time to answer before I was rudely interrupted, asked more questions and interrupted yet again. It was impossible under these circumstances to keep my thought processes clear. Something MUST be done about this and I intend to pursue this. I will never allow myself to be put in this position again by these individuals nor would I want any other Board members to have to endure this type of treatment.

As a result, I incorrectly quoted the number of “no” votes as 11 instead of 13. I made an error and I apologize for this. Please note that this, in no way, changed the outcome. However, if there was a discrepancy between my numbers and the numbers at the CKC, the respectable and responsible way to resolve this would have been to inform me and ask me again, to clarify the numbers. Instead, we were all attacked on a public blog and basically called “liars”. Guilty until proven innocent. This is totally unacceptable!!! [I tried very hard not to insert any comments, to let Karen’s words speak for themselves. But here I’m compelled to comment: Karen, many members asked for details of the July 2013 vote many times between Oct. 13 when Bev Anderson announced the revised standard had passed and December 10, when the number of YES and NO votes were finally disclosed at the AGM. After learning CKC’s vote count differed from yours, I waited more than a month, hoping to see a public correction from you. Which makes me ask: if The Open Letter hadn’t gone out, when were you planning to inform members what the real numbers were?—Lisa Ricciotti]

Jan and I talked several times during the re-voting process and the numbers are clear. A list of forty nine (49) eligible voters was confirmed by Dave Berrey and forwarded to the entire Board. This is the list which was used by Jan when sending out the ballots via E/mail on June 3, 2013. Attached is a copy of that list. The Club results were as follows:

Total Ballots Sent Out: 49
Total Ballots Received Back: 35 – 22 Yes, 13 No
Total Number of Non-Voters: 14

When speaking to Yvette Kanji, I requested that Yvette bring to the attention of the CKC Breed Standard Group that Margaret Au was a member of the Breed Standard Review Committee and it was mandatory for all Committee members to agree with the proposed revision to the Breed Standard before it was released to the membership and the CKC. I requested, for this reason, that Margaret Au’s vote be disallowed.

If the CKC disallowed Margaret’s vote, this would bring the total number of “no” votes to 12 and the total number of votes received to 34. We were not informed of the CKC decision regarding Margaret’s vote.

The CKC numbers show 21 Yes votes, not 22 as received by the Club. All other numbers agree. I will correct that with the CKC when I send them the list of voters, those who voted yes, those who voted no, and the non-voters for a total of 49.

The “Skeptical 17”

Lisa, please back up this statement with proof of E/mails sent from Jan. Jan sent an E/mail to every voter thanking them for their participation. There is no way that there are 17 unaccounted votes. [LR comment #2: You’re misunderstanding Karen. We found 17 NO votes versus the 11 NOs you reported at the AGM and the 13 you report here.] See attached list. [LR comment #3: GASP! What a breach of voter privacy! But how could I not look. I see 4 members recorded as “Did Not Vote” when they swear they voted NO. These members have asked CKC to investigate where their votes went.]

The Club Officers were not contacted by the CKC. Yesterday, after reading Lisa’s open letter, I contacted Elio Furlan at the CKC to resolve this matter.

Karen E. Cram

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