For more context, I suggest that you read “Canadian Federation of Students won’t recognize UTGSU referendum petition“.
DISCLAIMER: Legal documents contained within have been redacted to protect the personal privacy.
Voting in the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union’ (UTGSU) referendum on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)/Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O) began today and will continue until Friday. As we eagerly await the results, we can only hope that everything goes smoothly (rather than a repeat of the disaster in Regina).
Now, to the point of this post: Earlier today, The Varsity published an article (which appeared on the front page of the printed paper) that touches upon the subject matter of this post. After having read it, I was not surprised to find out that it had already been widely criticized as being inadequate. This article will attempt to fill in the (many) holes.
Studentunion.ca has obtained legal documents which seem to indicate that officials from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O) instructed Deloitte employees not to validate certain names that were included in the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) petitions to initiate a referendum on continued membership in the national and provincial branches of the Federation. As will be outlined below, the documents reveal that at least 75 Chinese graduate students’ signatures were deemed invalid in Deloitte’s final reports due to the fact that they used their “Canadian” names rather than their “proper full name”.
This obviously raises a number of important questions regarding the verification process which, depending on the outcome of the referendum, may or may not be answered.
On September 4, 2014, as part of the examination for discovery, Ms. Alessandra Nosko (legal counsel for the UTGSU) cross-examined Mr. Terrence Hatherell, a partner at Deloitte LLP who was ultimately responsible for the CFS and CFS-O final reports. She grilled him on the criteria used by his team in determining whether students’ names were valid. In a package of undertakings requested by Ms. Nosko from the CFS/CFS-O, one particular answer provided reveals a startling fact:
With respect to petitioners who used an English variation of their foreign name, it was determined, based on discussions with CFS (National) and CFSO representatives, that those petitioners should not be considered valid as they did not use their “proper full name” as stipulated in the CFS (National) and CFSO Bylaws (Emphasis added).
On April 2, 2014, nearly a month after Deloitte delivered its final reports to the CFS/CFS-O, Ms. Vanessa Hunt contacted Mr. Yasser Youssef (Deloitte) by email and states that:
It has been brought to our attention that there is a discrepancy between the number of signatures that your office verified on the national petition and the number of signatures that was reviewed by the registrar’s office, possibly due to human error during the photocopying process.
Following the conduct of further revisions of the national petition, Mr. Youssef emailed Ms. Hunt informing her that the 19.53% of the petition signatures were valid. However, 9 minutes later, Youssef emailed Ms. Hunt again:
One of the items that I did want to discuss with you related to Chinese petitioners (approximately 75 – 80 instances) who signed the petition using their Canadian names. We have not considered those petitions valid (consistent with CFS-ON). If we were to consider them valid, however, in the case of CFS (National) the 20% threshold would be exceeded (Emphasis added).
That last sentence is very important. If those 75 (or 80) Chinese students’ names were deemed valid, the 20% threshold would have been met for the CFS petition. So while we don’t know exactly what was said during the “discussions” between Deloitte and CFS/CFS-O representatives, we do know that, in the end, those Chinese students’ names were deemed invalid and were not included in the final tally.
Stay tuned as more legal documents will be released in the days to come.
NOTE: For clarity, “CFS” refers to the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario in the title of this post.