Canadian Federation of Students v. Kwantlen University College Student Association (1991 referendum)

LAST UPDATED ON JANUARY 11, 2015
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Summary

The Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) held a referendum to disaffiliate from the Canadian Federation of Students on September 18, 1991.1 The CFS refused to recognize the validity of the referendum, and sued the KSA in 1997, six years later. In the lawsuit, the CFS insisted that the KSA owed the CFS membership dues for the period 1991-19972 – a huge sum of money, which the KSA was unable to afford. By this time, the KSA had lost a significant amount of its records, and was unable to prove whether the notice of referendum delivered to the CFS was sent by registered mail, as required by CFS bylaws at the time, instead of by regular mail. In any event, the parties settled out of court in 1999, agreeing that a membership referendum would be held according to CFS bylaws. The KSA and its Executives were explicitly forbidden from campaigning in the referendum3; the CFS, however, was not, and proceeded to flood the campus with staff and executives, leading to a 97.4% ‘victory’ for the CFS4. (The KSA was forbidden from disclosing the “Minutes of Settlement,” which contained the onerous referendum terms, to any other person5, and so this document did not become public until 2008 when the CFS made the document public voluntarily.)

Documents

Footnotes

1 CFS et al., “Statement of Claim,” October 28, 1997, 3, in Canadian Federation of Students v. Kwantlen University College Student Association, Supreme Court of British Columbia, Vancouver Registry, No. C974704, http://www.studentunion.ca/cases/kwantlen91/writ-and-statement-of-claim.pdf.

2 Ibid.

3 CFS and KSA, “Minutes of Settlement,” January 27, 1999, 2, attached to Lucy Watson, “Affidavit #3,” March 13, 2008, as Exhibit “A,” in Canadian Federation of Students v. Kwantlen University College Student Association, Supreme Court of British Columbia, Vancouver Registry, No. S081553, http://www.studentunion.ca/cases/kwantlen08/watson3.pdf.

4 CFS, “National Executive Report,” November 1999, 43, http://www.studentunion.ca/cfs/1999/1999-11-execreport.pdf.

5 CFS and KSA, “Minutes of Settlement,” 3.