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Study of Mind Development Groups, Sects and Cults in Ontario

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The study of new religions, cults, sects, and mind development groups was conducted over an 18-month period. Former members of these groups, their families, and friends were most helpful in describing to the study their unfavourable experiences as former participants. Equally important was the contribution of active group members, who outlined the favourable aspects of their current participation in these organizations. Further, the study benefited from the close co-operation and assistance of many governement, voluntary, religious, and educational organizations.

I am deeply indebted to all persons who were interviewed or sent briefs and submissions. As well, I am grateful for the letters outlining points of view from hundreds of persons and organizations and for the numerous telephone calls with suggestions and information. Many persons also sent clippings, pamphlets, books, and articles that were most helpful in the research process. All letters, petitions, and other materials were formally acknowledged and duly considered.

A number of specialists and experts graciously provided information, experience, and advice and I am most appreciative of their assistance.

I also wish to acknowledge my gratitude for the tireless efforts of the entire study staff who performed a difficult and frequently frustrating task with dedication, commitment, and loyalty.

In addition, I wish to express special appreciation to my colleague in this project, Professor Marvin Schiff of the School of Journalism at Carleton University. Professor Schiff, former Director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, was Associate Advisor to this study. Working closely with me, he assisted in conducting interview, analysing research materials, drafting this report and other aspects of the undertaking. I deeply appreciate the intellectual skills, judgment, and balance that he brought to an onerous task, and I am thankful to Carleton University for making him available.

I valued greatly and relied heavily on the keen administrative abilities of Shannon Hogan, the Project Coordinator. She kept the study rigorously on course, calmly resolving numerous administrative crisis. In addition she provided thoughtful contributions in respect to content and methodology as well as to the over-all study undertaking. I am grateful to the Ministry of Education for allowing the secondment of Mrs. Hogan to the study.

The Ministry of Treasury and Economics was equally gracious in lending the services of Wend Paniak, whose research expertise and survey skills were invaluable.

Counsel for the study was S. Casey Hill from the Crown Law Office - Criminal Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General. He provided careful, detailed legal research and advice on all aspects of the project, assisted in our liaison with other government ministries, and arranged security for the study.

In addition, the research assistants, secretaries, and the editor were involved in long hours of typing, checking sources, research, editing, and bibliographical work that was invaluable throughout the study process. In this regard I would like to acknowledge fully the efforts and contributions of Mary shkewe, Patricia Ferguson, Lynn Giesler, Mary Clare Havey, Lorraine Hubbard, Barbara Walsh, and Laurie Jacobson.

The consultative services offered by Assistant Deputy Attorneys General Archie Campbell and Blenus Wrights and the administrative resources provided by Peter Clendinnen and Roland d'Abadie of Inquiry Management, Appointments and Royal Commissions were most valuable. The study also received splendid co-operation throughout the Ontario Provincial Police, particularly by Detective Sergeant Al Ciampini.

Two special papers were commissioned during the course of the research. Dr. Saul V. Levine, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and Senior Psychiatrist at the Hospital for Sick Children, prepared a report on "Physical and Mental Health Aspects of Religious Cults and Mind Expansion Groups." Dr. Levine has written and published many articles on the subject of new religions, mind development groups, sects, and cults in Canada.

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To be continued

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