LAST UPDATED ON APRIL 8, 2014
In September 2009, members of the University of Guelph Central Student Association (CSA) submitted a petition to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and to the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario Component (CFS-O). When both the national and the provincial organization ruled these petitions out of order on a technicality (the petitions were delivered by process server rather than by registered mail), the CSA took legal action to contest these decisions. In March 2010, Mr. Justice Terrance P. O’Connor ordered that a referendum on continued membership in the CFS/CFS-O would go forward despite the objections raised by, among others, the then-CFS-O chairperson, Shelly Melanson. Ultimately, the membership voted overwhelmingly in favour of separating from the national student organization. However, the CFS/CFS-O appealed Justice O’Connor’s ruling and ultimately won due to the fact that he did not provide any reasons for his decision. After a long period of silence, a statement of facts was released by the CSA at the beginning of 2013 which provided the CSA membership with an update on the situation. On April 3, 2013, the CSA released another statement which indicated that it would be pursuing an out-of-court settlement thus putting an end to its lengthy legal battle against the national and provincial organizations. The CSA also took the position that it continued to be a member of the CFS/CFS-O.
The University of Guelph administration provided students with its version of the facts and conducted an email survey asking students if they wanted the university to continue collecting the CFS/CFS-O membership fees and hold the money in trust as it had been doing since the legal wrangling began in 2010. Even though the CSA encouraged its members to vote yes, 70.685% of Guelph undergraduate students voted against the continued collection of CFS/CFS-O membership fees. The CSA publicly questioned the administration’s motives and referred to the survey question as having been “disingenuous and self-serving”.
CSA joins CFS and CFS-O in pursuing the University of Guelph administration
In June 2013, studentunion.ca received a copy of a litigation co-operation agreement signed by Joshua Ofori-Darko and Drew Garvie on behalf of the CSA, Lucy Watson on behalf of the CFS and Ashkon Hashemi on behalf of the CFS-O. Together, the parties agreed to commence legal action against the University of Guelph administration for its decision to cease the collection of CFS/CFS-O membership dues. The CSA released an update on March 26, 2014 announcing that “a judge appointed by the Courts will act as an external independent arbitrator, review all the history and bylaws, to ensure the most fair and appropriate decision will be made…” Studentunion.ca has obtained the notice of application from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice which indicates that the first hearing is scheduled for June 5, 2014 at 10:00 am at the Ottawa Courthouse. As of the week of March 30, no documents have been filed with the court. We will do our best to obtain all documents as they become publicly available.
University of Guelph Central Student Association v. Canadian Federation of Students et al. (Court Order directing that a referendum on continued membership in the CFS/CFS-O shall occur) – 2010 ONSC 1790 – March 24, 2010
Historical Overview of Canadian Federation of Students Membership Dispute by Galen Flick, former CSA Local Affairs Commissioner (2009-2010) and member of the Referendum Oversight Committee for the CSA – April 2, 2013
Dispute between CSA, CFS and CFS-O with the University of Guelph re: collection of CFS membership fees