Mise à jour : L’Union Étudiante du Québec : les premiers référendums

Et c’est parti! La Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) n’y est plus. Durant les mois de novembre et de décembre, plusieurs associations étudiantes à travers le Québec consultent leurs membres concernant l’affiliation à la nouvelle association étudiante provinciale, l’Union Étudiante du Québec (UÉQ).

Voici une liste des associations étudiantes qui ont soit déjà consulté leurs membres ou qui leur consulteront sous peu :

  • La Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l’Université de Montréal (FAÉCUM) a annoncé par voit de communiqué de presse qu’elle s’est affiliée à l’UÉQ suite au vote de ses membres réunis en congrès spécial le 25 novembre 2015. Selon le journal L’Express, les résultats sont les suivantes : 156 en faveur, 45 contre et 41 abstentions. Elle devient donc le premier membre de la nouvelle association étudiante provinciale.
  • La CADEUL : Les membres de la CADEUL (Université Laval) pourront soit inscrire un X sur un bulletin de vote physique ou voter en ligne lors du référendum (23-30 novembre 2015).
  • Entre les 23 et 27 novembre 2015, l’Association étudiante de l’École des sciences de la gestion de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (AéESG) a tenu son référendum d’affiliation. Selon sa page Facebook, 867 membres ont voté (747 en faveur, 118 contre et 2 abstentions). AéESG est maintenant membre de l’UÉQ.
  • Un référendum d’affiliation nationale aura lieu à l’École Polytechnique de Montréal (l’Association des étudiants de Polytechnique (AÉP) (1er cycle) et l’Association des étudiants des cycles supérieurs de Polytechnique (AÉCSP) (cycles supérieurs)) entre les 30 novembre et 3 décembre 2015. 
  • Les membres du Regroupement des étudiants de maîtrise, de diplôme et de doctorat de l’Université de Sherbrooke (REMDUS(Cycles supérieurs de l’Université de Sherbrooke) voteront sur la question de l’affiliation nationale du 4 au 11 décembre 2015.
  • Pour sa part, les membres de l’Association générale étudiante de l’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiskamingue (l’AGEUQAT) avaient le choix entre l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ) et l’UÉQ. Selon sa page Facebook, avec un taux de participation de 10%, 84 votes en faveur de l’ASSÉ, 241 votes pour l’UÉQ, 21 votes pour aucune des deux associations et 30 abstentions. Un article dans La Frontière cite Marc Corriveau, le président de l’AGEUQAT : «Nous [les membres de l’exécutif de l’AGEUQAT] sommes excessivement fiers et enthousiastes de faire partie de cette association [Union étudiante du Québec] qui a à coeur le consensus, la transparence, la crédibilité, la solidarité et le respect».
  • Le Mouvement des associations générales étudiantes de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (MAGE-UQAC) a donné trois options à ses membres : soit rejoindre l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ), l’Association pour la voix étudiante au Québec (AVEQ) ou l’UÉQ. Selon la page Facebook Mouvement étudiant .info, voici les résultats :
    • Souhaitez-vous que le MAGE-UQAC intègre une association nationale?
      Oui : 274
      Non : 286
      Abstention : 92
    • Dans le cas d’une réponse positive, dans quelle association nationale souhaitez-vous voir le MAGE-UQAC s’affilier?
      UÉQ : 54
      AVEQ : 165
      ASSÉ : 94
      Abstention : 339

 

Le MAGE-UQAC restera donc indépendent pour le moment. Selon la Capsule du MAGE-UQAC du 30 novembre 2015, le prochain référendum sur la question d’affiliation à une association étudiante provinciale aura lieu à l’automne 2016.

Nous nous assurerons de mettre à jour cet article au fur et à mesure que les résultats des référendums futurs seront rendus publics.

MISE À JOUR – samedi 12 décembre 2015

CADEUL (Université Laval)
Les membres de la CADEUL ont voté en faveur de l’indépendance. Par contre, des irrégularités avec le système de vote électronique de l’Université Laval ont été constatées. Durant une séance spéciale, le conseil d’administration de la CADEUL «a pris la décision de ne pas entériner les résultats du vote référendaire.» Le directeur du référendum, Patrick Taillon (professeur à la Faculté de droit) devra rendre son rapport référendaire au conseil d’administration au mois de janvier. 

L’AÉP et l’AÉCSP (École Polytechnique de Montréal)
Les membres de l’Association des étudiants de Polytechnique (AÉP) ont voté en faveur de l’affiliation à l’UÉQ. Selon la page Facebook de l’AÉP, voici
 les résultats :

  • De 780 votes valides (taux de participation 16.18%) : 467 votes pour de l’affiliation (59.9%), 228 votes contre (29.2%) et 85 abstentions (10.9%)

Les membres de l’Association des étudiants des cycles supérieurs de Polytechnique ont voté en faveur de l’affiliation à l’UÉQ. Les résultats sont les suivantes : 

Oui : 158 (69,6%)
Non : 69 (30,4%)
Abstention : 28
Nul : 9
Taux de participation : 11,5%

REMDUS (Université de Sherbrooke)
En ce qui concerne le REMDUS, un courriel aurait été envoyé aux étudiantes et aux étudiants hier après-midi pour annoncer les résultats :

« Acceptez-vous que votre association étudiante de campus, le REMDUS, s’affilie au niveau national à l’Union étudiante du Québec (UEQ) en tant que membre fondateur, moyennant une cotisation de 4,50 $ par étudiante ou étudiant par session et indexée à l’indice des prix à la consommation ? »

Les résultats sont les suivants:
Oui: 583 (57,61 %)
Non: 429 (42,39 %)
Abstention: 136

L’option du OUI est celle qui a récolté le plus de vote. Les résultats du référendum sont réputés valide avec un taux de participation de 15,98 %. Le comité référendaire atteste donc des résultat et autorise la diffusion de ceux-ci.

Résumé : les associations étudiantes suivantes sont maintenant membre de l’UÉQ : la FAÉCUM, l’AéESG, l’AÉP, l’AÉCSP et le REMDUS.

UPDATED: CBUSU suffers major blow in legal defeat against CFS

The Ontario Superior Court rendered a decision in a case pitting the Cape Breton University Students’ Union (CBUSU) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). This long-standing legal battle stems from a dispute of the legitimacy of a March 2008 referendum on continued membership. Out of the 366 students who casted a ballot, 92% voted against continued membership in the Federation. In summary, the CBUSU remains a member of the Federation and is on the hook for 6 years worth of unpaid membership fees, worth $293,159.13. The CFS was asked to submit its costs submission within 30 days of the release of the decision. This will likely add another significant financial burden facing the CBUSU. 

In Mr. Justice Robert N. Beaudoin’s Analysis and Conclusion, he writes: “I am satisfied on all of the evidence before me that the referendum held by the CBUSU was invalid in that it did not comply with the then prevailing Bylaws and that the vote on defederation cannot be recognized on any other basis.”

This charge is based on the fact that, in September 2007, it was in fact the members of the CBUSU executive that initiated the petition that would trigger a referendum. During the trial, it was admitted that members of the executive collected the signature during the first week of classes, September 10-15, 2007. This is where the CBUSU diverged from the CFS Bylaws. According to Bylaw 1, Article 3(a)(iii) of the Federation’s most recently available Bylaws, only “the students collectively belonging to a local student association” (i.e.: the individual students who make up the CBUSU membership) can initiate a petition, not the “voting member” (i.e.: the CBUSU executive is considered a voting member of the CFS).

The consequences stemming from this decision could mean the end of the CBUSU. The student union was ordered to pay nearly $300,000 in damages to the CFS as well as the Federation’s legal fees which could amount to another $100,000. Speaking with CTV News Atlantic, Brandon Ellis, President of the CBUSU, admitted that all options are on the table including laying off some of the student union’s 80 employees or even bankruptcy.

Further reactions to the decision

Students Nova Scotia expressed its concern in a statement regarding the results of the trial.

Paul Wells, political editor at Maclean’s Magazine, weighed in on Twitter leading us to believe he has some knowledge of the Federation’s rocky history:

Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner also took to Twitter to say he is “proud” of StudentNS for its stance on the CBU issue:

Finally, to get further historical context, you can go back and listen to an interview from June 2014 which included Brandon Ellis, President of the CBUSU, and Brent Farrington, CFS Internal Co-ordinator. They both spoke with CBC’s Information Morning Cape Breton’s host Steve Sutherland.

UPDATED: Saturday August 8, 2015

On Friday, we initially posted an article on our Facebook page which indicated that the CBUSU had filed for bankruptcy. However, this was an erroneous report. Later in the afternoon, another article was published in The Chronicle Herald stating that the CBUSU would in fact appeal Justice Robert N. Beaudoin’s decision. Brandon Ellis told the Herald that Toronto-based law firm Borden Ladner Gervais is representing the student union. This is the same firm that represented the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union last year in its legal case against the Federation.

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. 

PGSS votes to leave the Canadian Federation of Students (again)

On January 15 and 16, 2015, members of the Post-Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University (PGSS) had the opportunity to vote in a referendum on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).

According to the PGSS website, preliminary results indicate that graduate students voted overwhelmingly in favour of cutting ties with the Federation:

Referendum question: Are you in favor of continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)?

Number of votes: 2129* (26.3% voter turnout)
Yes votes: 56* (2.7%)
No votes: 2014* (97.3%)

*All results are preliminary, subject to change pending University verification and receipt of mail-in ballots. The CRO will post the official results in due time. The referendum and formal request to leave the Federation will need to be ratified at the next General Assembly of the CFS.

Readers were reminded in an article published in the McGill Daily that the PGSS continues to be involved in litigation with the Federation stemming from a March 2010 referendum during which members of the PGSS voted to leave the CFS. The CFS would prefer to acknowledge this month’s vote as this would imply that the PGSS has continued to be a member of the Federation since March 2010. This, in turn, would mean that the PGSS owes 5 years worth of membership dues (between March 2010-June 2015). Before the CFS agreed to hold this month’s referendum, the PGSS was forced to pay over $300.000 in outstanding dues as per the CFS Bylaws. The PGSS will continue to pursue the litigation emanating from the 2010 referendum and will now seek to recover that money. Court hearings in that case won’t begin until 2017.

A McGill Tribune article quotes CFS chairperson Jessica McCormick who appears to show that the Federation would likely recognize the results at the Federation’s General meeting in May/June 2015. A statement (http://aboutcfs.ca has already been rendered inaccessible) by the Ms. McCormick was released just before this month’s referendum and deserves to be quoted:

Unlike other votes on membership, the Canadian Federation of Students will not be engaging in a traditional campaign on campus in order to highlight the importance of working together. The reality is that over the past five years, the graduate student members at McGill have been so misled and misinformed by portions of the elected leadership of the PGSS about the work of the Canadian Federation of Students and the formerly positive, supportive relationship with the other members of the organization that it would be virtually impossible to set the record straight in a short campaign period. As an example, there has been so much disinformation that the average McGill graduate student incorrectly thinks that the Canadian Federation of Students has been suing the McGill PGSS. In fact, the PGSS has engaged in a sustained campaign of legal attacks against the other member local unions that comprise the Federation in order to achieve a specific outcome-to isolate graduate students at McGill from students across the country.

While the Federation made it seem like no traditional campaigning would occur, many people were brought in by the CFS to act as poll clerks (May not be an exhaustive list): 

Carole Blank – Kaileigh Macrae  – Munib Sajjad – Carolyn Hibbs – Emma Campbell – Alena Peters – Jasmine Parent – Glenn Burley – Adam Awad – 
Sarah McCue – Alyssa Blank – Nadia Fentiman – Lauren Montgomery – Nick Stark – Brent Farrington – Laurel Walsh – Anna Dubynski

I do hope that as many graduate students will read the entire statement (also available in French) to see how condescending it really is. McCormick’s attempts to speak down to students seem to suggest that graduate students are unable to think critically about the information they have received from the “elected leadership of the PGSS” and judge the organization on its merits. While the PGSS has in fact brought the CFS to court, to characterize the litigation as a “sustained campaign of legal attacks” is exaggerated rhetoric that is often used by the Federation to describe anybody who dares to disagree with and/or criticize the organization. Let this CFS statement be seen for what it really is: a sophisticated, camouflaged admittance of defeat, a throwing in of the towel.

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”.