Update on legal cases involving the Canadian Federation of Students

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Following the
two court losses suffered by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) last month, it has applied to the Quebec Court of Appeal to suspend the execution of the judgement [French only], rendered by Justice Gérard Dugré on September 9, 2014, ordering a referendum on continued membership be held for members of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS). This is an attempt by the CFS to block the members of the PGSS from having the opportunity to vote on their continued membership in the Federation.

On Tuesday afternoon, October 21, 2014, Ms. Justice Geneviève Marcotte dismissed the CFS’s Motion to Stay the Provisional Execution. She reiterated that Mr. Sa Ge’s right to vote on the question of PGSS’s continued membership in CFS is quasi-constitutional and added that the criteria of the balance of convenience1 favours the McGill University graduate student. Justice Marcotte also added that the CFS’s appeal on the merits seems to have no serious chance of success. 

All this to say, Justice Dugré ordered that a referendum on continued membership in the CFS must be held at McGill regardless of if the CFS decides to move forward with its appeal or not. 

Today, the PGSS will appear before Justice Gérard Dugré requesting that he select the dates for the referendum and an order to have PGSS’ outstanding membership dues held in trust (dues that have been collected since members of the PGSS voted to cease membership in the CFS in April 2010; the CFS never recognized the results of that referendum and the outcome of that legal battle has yet to be settled). 

Stay tuned…

1. According to a paper published by Gowling, Lafleur Henderson LLP, the balance of convenience “involves determining which party will suffer greater damage from granting or refusing the injunction.”

Canadian Federation of Students elects new national executive

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During the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) national general meeting, held last week in Gatineau, Quebec, the plenary elected a new national executive for the 2015-2016 academic year. It should be noted that all three executive positions will be filled by held by women. 

Bilan Arte's March 2012 election campaign poster

Bilan Arte’s March 2012 election campaign poster

Bilan Arte was elected CFS national chairperson for the 2015-2016 academic year. Her involvement in student politics is extensive: she was elected twice as president of the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) (2011-2012 and 2012-2013), was deputy chairperson (2011-2012) and chairperson (2013-2014) of the Canadian Federation of Students-Manitoba (CFS-MB) as well as being the Manitoba representative (2013-2014) on the CFS national executive. Ms. Arte is currently the deputy chairperson on the CFS national executive. 

Anne-Marie Roy - BoD poster - February 2011

Current Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) president (2014-2015), Anne-Marie Roy, was elected as CFS national deputy chairperson. You can read about her record as a student politician as of February 2013 here. She is currently in her second term as SFUO president and as Francophone students representative (2013-2014 and 2014-2015) on the CFS national executive. She will likely continue her fast ascent in the CFS ranks. Earlier this year, Ms. Roy was the subject of explicit Facebook messages which were somehow obtained and subsequently made public. This incident received the attention of the national news media in which ‘rape culture’ was highlighted as becoming an epidemic on Canadian college and university campuses and in society in general. Ms. Roy could very easily become the CFS national chairperson in the next couple of years. 

CFS-NS chairperson Anna Dubinski

Anna Dubinski – Photo credits: The Chronicle Herald

Finally, the plenary elected Anna Dubinsky as CFS national treasurer. She is currently the CFS-Nova Scotia (CFS-NS) chairperson as well as the CFS-NS’s national executive representative. Ms. Dubinsky attended the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Here’s her experience in campus politics: 

2010-2011: first year representative on the King Students’ Union (KSU) Council of representatives

2011-2012: KSU’s Vice-president, student life

2012-2013: Student union representative on the University of King’s College Board of Governors; Board of governors representative on the KSU’s Council of representatives

2013-2014: She followed in the footsteps of influential CFS personalities such as Kaley Kennedy, David Etherington, Gabe Hoogers and Nick Stark by becoming the KSU president; she also sat as one of the student representatives on the University’s Board of Governors and on the Board’s executive committee.

2014-2015: CFS-NS chairperson and the Nova Scotia representative on the CFS national executive.

It should be noted that, during her tenure as KSU president, Dubinski’s executive faced a $10,000 deficit. Read the discussions surrounding the budget deficit here and the subsequent decision to hold a referendum to increase student union dues by $9,40 in order to eliminate the deficit.

Canadian Federation of Students-Manitoba retracts Winnipeg mayoral candidate report cards

CFS-MB - Winnipeg Election Report Card - October 2014

After having published a report card which graded current City of Winnipeg mayoral candidates, the Canadian Federation of Students-Manitoba Component (CFS-MB) has retracted the report from its website. According to an article in The Manitoban, the report card was removed following an October 2nd CFS-MB executive meeting, only one day after having been published. For whatever reason, nobody was willing to talk about why the report card was revoked:

Zach Fleisher, chair of CFS-MB, refused to provide comment on the report card or its removal after the board meeting.

Jesse Blackman, UWSA [University of Winnipeg Students' Association] representative for the CFS-MB executive, was present at the board meeting and said “the board has decided to not comment publicly on this matter.”

However, CFS-MB deputy chairperson Mitchell van Ineveld told the Manitoban that a motion was passed at the meeting to remove the report card from the CFS-MB’s website and social media accounts, effectively cancelling the project.

While secrecy is nothing new when it comes to the CFS and all of its provincial components, not willing to comment publicly on the decision to cancel the project after spending time and resources is outright bizarre. However, thanks to Google, you can access the report card’s main page and all but one mayoral candidate’s report card page that appeared on the CFS-MB website:

CFS-MB Mayoral Report Cards main page: https://archive.today/VoRUB

Robert Falcon-Ouellette (A-): https://archive.today/hXKd4

Judy Wasylycia-Leis (A-): https://archive.today/Hily4

Brian Bowman (B+): https://archive.today/eei3h

Paula Havixbeck (C+): https://archive.today/ZLwHc

David Sanders (C+): https://archive.today/BaRix

Michel Fillion (D): Unavailable

Gord Steeves (F): https://archive.today/nUZdS

The methodology used to arrive at the letter grades for each candidate was not provided. All we know is that “[e]ach of the mayoral candidates was interviewed and each platform was assessed by members of the CFS-MB executive, who then assigned grades to each candidate.” The main page did however specify that the report card “does not represent a formal endorsement of any kind.”

UPDATED: Carleton University Student Association threatens bloggers, Rabble.ca with legal action

According to an article published yesterday in The Leveller, bloggers Mathieu Murphy-Perron and Jarrah Hodge as well as Rabble.ca were served with a cease and desist order from the Carleton University Student Association (“CUSA on behalf of Alexander Golovko and the members of the CUSA administration”).

Studentunion.ca has obtained a copy of the cease and desist order, dated September 11, 2014, signed by Katie Black of CazaSaikaley LLP

The letter refers to a blog post, published on September 7th on Murphy-Perron’s blog, entitled “Safer(r) Spaces & CUSA’s shortcomings” which refers to the “F*uck Safe Spaces” shirts that were worn by students who The Charlatan has identified as Carleton University “orientation week leaders”. Images1 of these shirts circulated across various social media platforms but many seem to have since been deleted. 

The blog post was later published by Rabble.ca under a different title: Carleton ‘F*uck Safe Space’ scandal legacy of conservative student union takeover. The order further claims that Ms. Hodge published Murphy-Perron’s blog post on her website, Gender Focus, on September 9th. While at the time of publication, the blog post was still accessible on both Murphy-Perron’s blog and rabble.ca, I was unable to find any mention of the blog post on Ms. Hodge’s website.

Mathieu-Murphy-Peron-tweet1

According to a series of tweets from Mathieu Murphy-Perron (above), he seriously considered taking down the blog post but decided against it. He also tweeted that “[i]t’s an uneasy feeling to be bullied into retracting criticism. No fun at all.” He also said that he stands by what he wrote as his blog post was well-sourced and was “fair criticism of CUSA’s elected reps.”

UPDATED: September 26, 2014

The CUSA executive released a statement via its website. In it, the executive clarifies that “CUSA is not in a legal dispute with the of the aforementioned parties [rabble.ca and Mathieu Murphy-Perron]” and that its legal counsel sent the parties a cease and desist order because “CUSA was and remains concerned that a significant portion of the editorial did not accurately represent the work and reputation of this student association.” Following the publication of the cease and desist order in question by studentunion.caThe Leveller updated its article by also reproducing it. The update further included quotes from Wednesday’s CUSA Council meeting. 

1. Image originally posted to Twitter by Leslie Robertson (@GalldinRoberts).