Canadian Federation of Students dealt second legal blow in less than a week

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Yesterday, Quebec Superior Court Justice Gérard Dugré published his decision [in French] in the case that pit Sa Ge, a member of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS), against the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).

The judge had a complicated balance to reach as the PGSS continues to be involved in a drawn out legal battle with the Canadian Federation of Students stemming from its 2010 referendum on continued membership in which students voted overwhelmingly to cease membership. A brief overview of that case was released by the PGSS last October. Therefore, Justice Dugré had to decide what effect, if any, a decision in Sa Ge’s case might have on future proceedings between the PGSS and the CFS (this case is set to be heard sometime in 2015).

A press release quotes Justice Dugré’s ruling:

The plaintiff has demonstrated a clear legal and quasi-constitutional right that a referendum take place in accordance with CFS bylaw I. Any delay in holding this referendum clearly causes an irreparable prejudice to the right of the plaintiff to not be affiliated with CFS. This prejudice is not only serious and irreparable but manifestly irreversible.

He concludes: “quasi-constitutional rights of the plaintiff are at stake and the legal and extralegal costs at play come from student fees, which could certainly be used in a more constructive fashion…”

Mr. Sa Ge is also quoted as having said: “This judgment sets a precedent for all Canadian students who believe in freedom of association. We thank the court for recognizing the importance of the voice of students, and in upholding the rights of students to not be held hostage by the [Canadian Federation of Students].”

Consult Regroupement des associations étudiantes c. Fédération canadienne des étudiants et étudiantes released late last week

More analysis to come…

National Post publishes op-ed touting Voluntary Student Unionism

On August 26, the National Post published an op-ed opposing mandatory fees for students’ unions. This op-ed argued that students’ unions were “spending their levy fees to fund controversial activities and political causes unrelated to post-secondary education,” engaging in “unfair student election practices” and practicing “financial mismanagement.” The op-ed was published by staffers for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a right-wing think tank. The FCPP published a paper entitled “The Case for Voluntary Student Unionism” (PDF) in 2011.

Devon Peters, the President of the University of Regina Students’ Union, published a reply to this op-ed in the Leader-Post, defending students’ unions as incubators of student leadership, through their sponsorship of clubs, societies, student newspapers, womens’ centres, and other organizations.

Canadian Federation of Students loses legal battle with its Quebec wing

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The Superior Court of Quebec yesterday released its judgement (in french) in the case “
Rassemblement des associations étudiantes v Fédération canadienne des étudiants et étudiantes“, representing the culmination of a five-year war between the Canadian Federation of Students and the now defunct CFS-Quebec.

Consult more documents relating to this case here

The Court ruled that the Canadian Federation of Students had illegally withheld certain sums of money from CFS-Quebec for a certain period of time between 2007 and 2010, in violation of its own bylaws. The actual amount of money was not specified in the judgement.

This judgement could possibly influence judicial proceedings that are set to be heard in 2015 regarding the validity of disaffiliation referenda that saw three out of four CFS member students’ unions withdraw from the national student organization in 2010: the Concordia Students’ Union, the Concordia Graduate Students’ Association, and the Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University.