Canadian Federation of Students 34th annual general meeting

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Canadian Federation of Students-Services (CFS-S) will hold their 34th annual general meeting from November 22 to November 25, 2015.

Studentunion.ca has obtained the agenda for the opening plenary.

Former student politicians eyeing jobs in PMO

Many of you are likely aware that we are currently in the first leg of one of the longest federal elections since Confederation. And, for the first time since the existence of the New Democratic Party (NDP), the party has a realistic shot at forming government. This means that former student politicians and post-secondary education activists who were involved with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and who have supported the party could soon find themselves working in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Who might end up working in an NDP PMO?

Let’s start with former CFS chairperson, George Soule who has been working for Thomas Mulcair in the Leader of the Official Opposition’s office as Associate Director of Media. Before that, Soule was an NDP campaign spokesperson during the 2011 federal election which saw Jack Layton’s NDP thrusted into official opposition. Another longtime CFS staffer Lucy Watson also joined the Dippers earlier this year as National campaign co-ordinator (it remains unclear if she is on leave from the CFS, if she has left the organization altogether or if she was one of the employees who was caught up in the alleged internal labour dispute within the Federation). Former CFS national treasurer and Director of information technology Ben Lewis is currently a national NDP communications officer. Brad Lavigne, former CFS chairperson and close advisor to the late Jack Layton, returned to the NDP a a senior campaign strategist following his short stint in the private sector as a consultant with Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

While others from labour unions and left-wing activists will likely come out of the woodwork, it’s hard to know whether Thomas Mulcair will want to surround himself with those on the more extreme left. Regardless, this piece gives you some food for thought on who could very well be walking the corridors of power in the event that the NDP were to form government once the votes have been counted on October 19, 2015. 

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 CRO overstepped authority: Quebec Superior Court Justice

A Quebec Superior Court Justice has ruled that Stephen Littley, Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) chief electoral returning officer (CRO), overstepped his authority by including certain regulations in the referendum rules that are currently governing the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) of McGill University referendum on continued membership in the CFS.

VISIT THE CFS CRO WEBSITE FOR THE PGSS REFERENDUM

In Justice Gérard Dugré written reasons of his January 7, 2015 judgment, he ruled that Stephen Littley exceeded his authority, as outlined in article 4.b of the CFS Bylaws, by including the following regulations within the PGSS referendum rules

Materials
d. The Chief Returning Officer or his designate will not approve materials that are defamatory, misleading or false, that refer to legal or quasi legal action/s before the courts that relate the Referendum, or to other legal or quasi legal actions, that may undermine the Referendum

Campaigning
f. There shall be no campaigning at any time in a business or service owned or operated by the Students’ Union… in areas or events where alcohol is served…

Justice Dugré also ruled that the above cited rules violate article 3 of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedom which states that “Every person is the possessor of the fundamental freedoms, including freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.”

Campaigning in the PGSS referendum on continued membership in the CFS at McGill University began on January 5 while voting will take place January 15 and 16, 2015.

Campaigning in PGSS referendum on continued membership in the CFS begins today

Campaigning in the Post-Graduate Students’ Society’s (PGSS) referendum on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) began today, January 5, 2015. Members of the PGSS will have the opportunity to vote from January 15 to 16, 2015. 

Consult the PGSS’s CFS referendum rules here

This referendum is the result of a lengthy court battle between the national Federation and Sa Ge, a McGill University philosophy engineering doctoral candidate and individual member of the PGSS. Legal proceedings continue to this very day stemming from the referendum rules put in place by CFS chief returning officer, Stephen Littley. Building upon the rules he drafted for the Capilano Students’ Union’s March 2014 referendum on continued membership in the federation which included an outright ban on referencing any media publications, Mr. Littley has taken his information control to further extremes: 

d. The Chief Returning Officer or his designate will not approve materials that are defamatory, misleading or false, that refer to legal or quasi legal action/s before the courts that relate the Referendum, or to other legal or quasi legal actions, that may undermine the Referendum (emphasis added).

While he essentially empowers himself to be the judge of whether the content of campaign material is defamatory, misleading or false (which is obviously prone to be abuse), Littley is now of the opinion that referencing any legal or quasi legal actions involving the Canadian Federation of Students “may undermine the Referendum”. The outright ban on anything referencing the CFS in the media continues to remain in place: 

e. The Chief Returning Officer or his designate will not approve materials that contain links to 3rd party media, opinion, dialogue, report, blog, or any other source that can not be governed and sanctioned by these by-laws (emphasis added).

The soundness of such rules have never been contested in court until now. Mr. Jonathan Mooney, a former member of the PGSS executive and chairperson of the No Committee, submitted a contestation to the CFS Appeals Committee(Bilan Arte, James Bowen and Amy Hammett). Mooney is contesting 3 rules established by the CRO:

1.   “The restrictions on references to legal or quasi legal action/s before the courts that relate to the Referendum, or to other legal or quasi legal actions, that may undermine the Referendum are null and void as ultra vires the jurisdiction of the CRO and as a violation of the fundamental rights of the members of PGSS”;

2. “The restrictions on campaigning in a business or service owned or operated by PGSS are null and void as ultra vires the jurisdiction of the CRO and as a violation of the fundamental rights of the members of PGSS”;

3. “The restrictions on campaigning in areas or events where alcohol is served are null and void as ultra vires the jurisdiction of the CRO and as a violation of the fundamental rights of the members of PGSS”

According to court documents obtained by Studentunion.ca, at the time of publication the Appeals Committee has yet to respond to Mr. Mooney’s December 27th 3-page contestation. The Quebec Superior Court of Justice will rule on Mooney’s motion, which contests a number of aspects of the referendum administration including allegations of negligence and bad faith, on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.

Voting in the PGSS referendum on continued membership will take place over 2 days, January 15 and 16, 2015.

1. As per CFS By-Law 1, section 6 i, the Appeals Committee is composed of: “i. one National executive member or a designate appointed by the Federation’s National Executive; and ii. two individual members elected at a Federation general meeting who are not members of the Federation’s National Executive”.

Canadian Federation of Students suing UTGSU: NO Campaign Committee

According to a group of students who ran the Vote NO campaign in the recent University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) referendum on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O), the Federations have filed a notice of application against the UTGSU. The group also claims that the documents were delivered to the UTGSU on Tuesday, 2 December 2014, only 2 days after the CFS chief returning officer (CRO) Stephen Littley announced that the quorum had not been reached. This leads them to believe that the application was well underway even before the results of the referendum were released.

When asked (by email) whether the UTGSU had in fact received the notice of application, the UTGSU’s Civics and Environment Commissioner Susanne Waldorf wrote “We have no comment on this. Sorry.” At the time of publication, neither the CFS nor the CFS-O had responded to email inquiry. 

NOTE: For clarity, “Canadian Federation of Students” refers to the Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian Federation of Students-Services (CFS-S) and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario in the title of this post.