Deux nouvelles associations étudiantes remplaceront la FEUQ

Les nouvelles associations se nommeront l’Union étudiante du Québec (UÉQ) et l’Association pour une Voix Étudiante du Québec (AVEQ)

En avril dernier, le journal Le Devoir a annoncé la mort de la Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ). L’effondrement de cette dernière est survenu après une vague de désaffiliation qui a déclenché une crise existentielle. La décision a été prise de mettre l’organisation en veille jusqu’à la création d’une nouvelle organisation étudiante provinciale (ou nationale dans le dialecte québécoise).

Ce débat s’est entamé à une réunion le 21-22 mars 2015 à Québec. Le Projet pour le mouvement étudiant (PPME) a été créé comme organisation à l’intérim afin d’encadrer les discussions. Après la deuxième réunion du PPME (18-19 avril 2015), quatre associations étudiantes (Chicoutimi, Rimouski, Trois-Rivière et l’Association des étudiantes et des étudiants de la Faculté des sciences de l’éducation de l’Université du Québec à Montréal) quittent le processus en raison, entre autres, du désaccord sur le mode de scrutin à choisir (une association, un vote c. double majorité)1. Il semble aussi y avoir, selon certaines associations, une urgence d’agir qui a été imposée sur les associations participantes par le biais d’un «contrat associatif». Selon le procès-verbal du 15 juillet 2015 du conseil d’administration de la REMDUS, 10 associations auraient signé ce contrat et «sont légalement redevables au PPME.» :

  • Fédération étudiante de l’Université de Sherbrooke (FEUS)
  • Confédération des associations d’étudiants et étudiantes de l’Université Laval (CADEUL)
  • Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l’Université de Montréal (FAÉCUM)
  • l’Association des Étudiants de Polytechnique (AÉP)
  • l’Association des étudiants des Cycles Supérieurs de Polytechnique (AÉCSP)
  • l’Association étudiante de l’École de technologie supérieure (AÉÉTS)
  • l’Association étudiante de l’École des sciences de la gestion (AÉÉSG) (UQAM)
  • l’Association générale étudiante de l’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (AGÉ-UQAT)
  • Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS)
  • Regroupement des étudiants de maîtrise, de diplôme et de doctorat de l’Université de Sherbrooke (REMDUS)

Selon le journal étudiant Impact Campus, l’organisation résultant de ces délibérations sera nommée l’Union étudiante du Québec (UÉQ) (Quebec Student Union en anglais). Cette dernière aura un mode de scrutin à double majorité et une cotisation de 9.00$/étudiant par année. Son comité exécutif aura 5 membres au départ et s’accroîtra éventuellement à 10 membres.

Les associations étudiantes qui ont quitté le PPME se sont créé un nouveau projet connu sous le nom de «Projet Vision Commune» (la Table des régions existait auparavant). Récemment, cette dernière est devenue l’Association pour la Voix Étudiante au Québec (AVEQ) (Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec en anglais). Le comité exécutif de cette dernière aura six (6) membres et la cotisation initiale sera fixée à 2.50$ par étudiant. L’AVEQ est présentement à la recherche d’un coordonnateur général et d’un coordonnateur des communications. Entres autres, la Student Society of McGill University (SSMU), le Concordia Student Union (CSU), la PGSS et la FEUS ont participé à la formation des deux nouvelles organisations. Par contre, la SSMU, le CSU et la PGSS ont publié un communiqué qui supporte l’AVEQ sans nommer l’organisation explicitement. 

Ces deux nouvelles associations étudiantes provinciales se rejoignent à la Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) et à l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) sur la scène de la politique étudiante québécoise.

1. L’UÉQ utilisera un système à double majorité : une motion devra être approuvée par une majorité des membres (une association, un vote). Si la motion est adoptée lors de ce premier vote, un deuxième vote aura lieu en utilisant le système semi-proportionnel. Ce dernier accordera plus de votes aux plus grandes associations étudiantes.


The new student associations will be called the Quebec Student Union (QSU) and the Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ)

Last April, Le Devoir announced the death of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ). The collapse came about following a wave of disaffiliations which triggered an existential crisis. The FEUQ board of directors voted to place the organization in dormancy until a replacement organization was created. 

The debate surrounding the creation of this new student organisation began on March 21 and 22, 2015 in Quebec City. The Project for the Student Movement (PSM) was created as an interim organisation moving forward. Following the second meeting pf the PSM (April 18-19, 2015), four student associations (Chicoutimi, Rimouski, Trois-Rivière and l’Association des étudiantes et des étudiants de la Faculté des sciences de l’éducation de l’Université du Québec à Montréal) abandoned the process due to, among other reasons, a disagreement on the voting system (one member, one vote vs double majority)1. According to these student associations, a “membership contract” was being imposed upon the participants of the negotiations. Regroupement des étudiants de maîtrise, de diplôme et de doctorat de l’Université de Sherbrooke (REMDUS) board of administration minutes from July 15th, 2015 indicate that 10 student associations signed the contract: 

  • Fédération étudiante de l’Université de Sherbrooke (FEUS)
  • Confédération des associations d’étudiants et étudiantes de l’Université Laval (CADEUL)
  • Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l’Université de Montréal (FAÉCUM)
  • l’Association des Étudiants de Polytechnique (AÉP)
  • l’Association des étudiants des Cycles Supérieurs de Polytechnique (AÉCSP)
  • l’Association étudiante de l’École de technologie supérieure (AÉÉTS)
  • l’Association étudiante de l’École des sciences de la gestion (AÉÉSG) (UQAM)
  • l’Association générale étudiante de l’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (AGÉ-UQAT)
  • Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS)
  • Regroupement des étudiants de maîtrise, de diplôme et de doctorat de l’Université de Sherbrooke (REMDUS)

According to the student newspaper The Link, the Quebec Student Union (QSU) (l’Union étudiante du Québec in French) is the name of the new provincial student association resulting from the PSM deliberations. It will employ a double majority voting system and membership fees will amount to $9.00/student per year ($4.50 per semester). The executive committee is currently made up of 5 members but will increase to 10 members in the future.

The student associations that left the PMS came together to form a second project which became known as the “Common Vision Project” (Projet Vision Commune in French) (formerly known as la Table des régions). Recently, its permanent name became the Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ). Its executive committee is made up of six members and its membership fees will be $2.50 per student. AVEQ is currently recruiting a general coordinator and communications coordinator. The Student Society of McGill University (SSMU), the Concordia Student Union (CSU), the PGSS and FEUS are some of the student associations that contributed to both projects. However, a statement of support signed by the SSMU, the CSU and the PGSS indicates that they are in favour of AVEQ’s structure.

These two new provincial student associations join the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ) and l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) on the student advocacy scene in Quebec

1. The QSU has chosen a double majority voting system: A motion would first have to be approved by a majority of members (one member, one vote). Once approved, a second vote would proceed using a semi-proportional voting system. This system allocates more votes to the larger student associations.

Dawson College students to vote on Canadian Federation of Students membership

DSU CFS referendum notice

Following a recent settlements between the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) (and its entities1) and the Concordia Student Union (CSU) and the Graduate Students’ Association of Concordia University (GSA), the Dawson Student Union (DSU) is the last Québec student union who holds membership status in the CFS. However, the Federation may no longer be able to claim that it is a national student organisation as the DSU will be holding a referendum on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). The CFS chief returning officer, Stephen Littley, recently published the referendum notice which will be held from April 13th to 15th, 2015. 

Consult the DSU CFS referendum rules here

Once again, Mr. Littley has banned the use of “3rd party media, opinion, dialogue, report, blog, or any other source that can not be governed and sanctioned by these Rules.” This is clearly a ridiculous rule that attempts to block out all the negative press that the Federation has received in the past. Coincidentally, as recently as a couple week ago, the Federation’s national office was forced to respond to “allegations of internal corruption and union-busting.” I received the email, which was sent on February 12, 2015 from an anonymous email address. However, due to the fact that we were unable to confirm the allegations, we chose not to publish the email. The letter was then published on February 26, 2015 at cfsunderattackalreadyexists.wordpress.com

The “Yes” and “No” committees have begun publishing their websites, Facebook and Twitter pages, etc. so keep your eyes peeled. 

1. The Canadian Federation of Students has a services organisation, the Canadian Federation of Students-Services (CFS-S) which dispenses the organisation’s services. When students vote to join the CFS, they automatically become members of the CFS-S. 

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.

Injunction sought by McGill University graduate student in CFS referendum saga

On Wednesday, March 18, 2014, a McGill University graduate student asked Justice Martin Castonguay of the Quebec Superior Court to order the scheduling of a referendum on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). This request follows the CFS’ national executive’s failure to respond to a second petition, initiated by McGill University doctoral candidate and individual member of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Sa Ge at the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year, seeking to hold a referendum to leave the Federation. As has been discussed before on this blog, the PGSS continues to be involved in legal action against the CFS stemming from a March 2010 referendum in which 86% of PGSS members voted to leave the Federation. However, the CFS national executive refused to recognize the results of that referendum.

Court documents, filed by Mr. Ge’s lawyer Marie-Claude Sarrazin, include a scathing repudiation of the CFS national executive’s behaviour:

30. CFS had a duty to act fairly in the application of its bylaws;

31. However, to the contrary, CFS acted abusively and failed in its duty to act fairly towards Petitioner [Sa Ge] and other individual members of PGSS by:

a. Initially failing to pick up the petition from the post office, when CFS Bylaw I required that the petition be sent by registered mail, thereby delaying receipt of the petition, as appears from the Canada Post Tracking History, filed in support hereof as exhibit R-10 [the petition had to be sent in two packages due to its weight: tracking history 1, tracking history 2];

b. Deliberately returning one half of the petition to sender “RTS” presumably to avoid addressing the petition:

i. After having been advised that the petition had to be divided into two separate packages as per Canada Post rules; and

ii. After having signed to accept delivery of both packages [CFS chairperson Jessica McCormick’s signature signed for the packages here and here];

c. Failing to accept the letter from McGill University Student Accounts certifying that the petition validly contained 20% of PGSS members, and then abusively, illegally and without jurisdiction, insisting on obtaining a full list of PGSS student membership from McGill University;

32. Given CFS’ failure to exercise its duty pursuant to its own bylaws as well as its abusive and unfair conduct towards PGSS individual members regarding their legitimate right to trigger the decertification procedure, the Court is entitled to schedule a vote on decertification and determine its modalities as more fully detailed in the conclusions herein [emphasis added].

Read more about Sa Ge’s experience

Having agreed that the issues raised by Mr. Ge were serious, Justice Castonguay proposed a fast-track trial scheduled for August 28-29, 2014. While Mr. Ge had initially intended to request a safeguard order so that a referendum could proceed before the end of the current academic year, he accepted Justice Castonguay’s offer as this option would allow for a decision on the merits of this case to come far sooner.

The CFS was represented by François Viau of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP. Justice Castonguay asked Mr. Viau to provide a list of examinations in preparation for the trial but he said he had not prepared such a list. Justice Castonguay thus ordered both parties to reappear before him on March 21 with said list of examinations. Ms. Sarazin and Mr. Pierre-Luc Beauchesne (from Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP on behalf of the CFS) provided the court with their respective list of examinations and undertook to have all materials ready for the trial by June 18, 2014. An agreement to the conduct of proceedings was also agreed to by both parties which outlines a detailed timeline for future proceedings.

Read more about other litigations involving the CFS

This latest legal case follows the ongoing litigations involving the McGill University Post-Graduate Students’ Society, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) and the Concordia Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). All three student associations have previously held referendums on continued membership in the CFS in which their members voted to leave the Federation. The two student associations from Concordia voted in January 2013 to present a motion to merge their respective cases due to their similarities. On January 23, 2013, the motion to merge was heard before a Quebec Superior Court Justice who agreed with the CSU/GSA arguments.

We will continue to follow all these cases in the months to come.

Canadian Federation of Students disaffiliation referenda initiated at fifteen students’ unions

Today I received a news release from a group of organizers who are organizing petitions for disaffiliation from the Canadian Federation of Students. They claim to be collecting petitions from over fifteen different student associations. A partial list of campuses includes Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Capilano University, the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, York University, Laurentian University, and Dawson College. The spokespersons for this group are Ashleigh Ingle (U of T GSU), Nicholas Di Penna (Dawson), and Alex McGowan (Kwantlen).

The news release also states that these organizers “plan to create new organizing bodies directed by principles of free association and direct membership control,” with a founding congress planned for 2014. If successful, this would put Canada in the unusual position of having three different national students’ federations, along with the CFS and CASA.

Spokesperson Ashleigh Ingle advises me that “no student union executive has taken an official stance at this time” on the disaffiliation efforts.

Continue reading

How extraordinarily pathetic….

I have had a somewhat… lurid fascination… with that peculiar organisation known as the Concordia Students’ Union. Its executives, councillors, and bureaucrats have varied from time to time, and the the ideology of the current group differs quite strongly from the radicals that generated a great deal of controversy in 2001/2002. Accordingly, the current CSU controversy is purely internal, involving a ten month long dispute over whether two individuals (Steven Rosenshein [a former CSU executive] and David Korgut) who ran in last year’s general election were eligible to do so.

But since then, things have gone seriously downhill. A meeting held to deal with the issue raised far more questions than it answered. An opinion piece sums up just some of the craziness that has afflicted the CSU:

Last March, the student union Judicial Board (a body that is supposed to be the check on council’s authority) found two students, Steven Rosenshein and David Kogut, guilty of committing electoral fraud in the CSU general elections. The decision was allegedly overturned by the outgoing council in a special meeting.

However, the minutes of this special meeting have never been provided (Noah Stewart, spokesperson for the CSU, claims they’ve been stolen) and two of last years’ councillors have signed affidavits stating they were never informed of this meeting to overturn the decision.

….

The council-appointed chair of this circus, Sarah Rodier, took The Link by surprise when she admitted in the paper one day prior to the November council meeting that she did, in fact, see a copy of the minutes of the special meeting where the JB decision was overturned—but “didn’t recall” when she saw them or who showed them to her. Astonishingly, in front of the entire council and observers, she recanted, saying that she “didn’t recall” ever saying she saw a copy of the minutes. Is this enough information to call Rodier a liar? You decide.

Adding to the gong-show, Rodier didn’t see it as a conflict of interest to allow Rosenshein to vote on the motion directly involving him. Kogut was not present—he can be removed from council just by the number of meetings he’s missed.

….

The Judicial Board’s office—along with all the files and documents—were moved this summer without the knowledge of the JB members….

Then suddenly the missing minutes allegedly turned up… and CSU Council then promptly adopted a motion banning further discussion on the whole entire issue.

The Concordian summed up the whole issue with a recent editorial: Is there yet hope for CSU accountability?

Here are a few conclusions that I can draw from this:

  1. Support the freedom of the press! The links that I have in this blog entry are just a smidgen of the many news articles, letters to the editor, and editorials that one can find on this subject in The Link and The Concordian.
  2. Bring your students’ unions out of the shadows. By this, I am referring specifically to the shady meeting that allegedly had inadequate notice, and whose minutes were allegedly lost for many months only to surface much later…. This sort of dysfunctionality can (and often is) used quite deliberately to cover up power-grabs of various sorts.
  3. If things are getting really bad, then call up a lawyer. Here, it seems as though both sides are simply throwing around allegations and home-made interpretations of the CSU bylaws. This doesn’t lead to any kind of resolution of the issue, it simply leads to further bickering down the road….