Canadian Federation of Students v. University of Prince Edward Island Student Union (1996 referendum, 2005 vote of Council)

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The University of Prince Edward Island Student Union (UPEISU) was a founding member of the CFS. In 1996, however, a referendum was held and UPEISU members voted to disaffiliate from the national organization. However, the CFS did not recognize the validity of this referendum and the UPEISU continued to collect and remit membership fees and participate in the organization.

In 2004, the UPEISU ceased collecting and remitting fees to the CFS, and in 2005 the UPEISU Council voted to cut all ties from the CFS. On November 14, 2008, the CFS commenced a lawsuit against UPEISU, demanding membership fees owing for the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 years. In response, UPEISU claims:

  • That the 1984 affiliation referendum contravened UPEISU’s own bylaws (because the results were not endorsed by a two-thirds vote of UPEISU Council) and was therefore null and void;
  • That the 1996 disaffiliation referendum complied with UPEISU’s own bylaws, and was therefore valid;
  • That the CFS breached a commitment that it made in 2002 to remit 45% of UPEISU’s membership dues back to the students’ union, in recognition of the fact that the CFS operated very few services on Prince Edward Island;
  • That the CFS, in fact, owes the UPEISU $10,180.80 because it failed to remit 45% of UPEISU’s membership dues back to the students’ union during fiscal year 2003/2004.

The CFS, in response, says that the UPEISU is “estopped” (legally prevented) from asserting any flaw in the 1984 referendum, or any validity in the 1996 referendum, because by its own actions the UPEISU “has conducted itself as though it were a member of the [CFS] and has received, on its own behalf and on behalf of its members, benefits of membership in the [CFS].” The CFS also denied the validity of the 1996 referendum and the decision by Council, nine years later, to recognize this referendum.

As of June 2013, the matter has yet to be brought to trial.