University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union v. Canadian Federation of Students (2013 petition verification)



In order to protect individuals’ privacy, we have endeavoured to redact names, student numbers, addresses, email addresses, etc. contained within the documents linked below. 

In September 2013, a group of students made up of members of the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (
UTGSU) began circulating petitions (the “petitions”) seeking a referendum on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O). By the middle of the month, we reported that enough signatures had been amassed and that the petitions would be mailed to the CFS national and Ontario offices. As confirmed in a letter from CFS-O chairperson Alastair Woods to UTGSU external commissioner Brad Evoy, the CFS-O received the petition on September 19, 2013. Mr. Woods first contacted the UTGSU on October 3 and again on October 21, 2013 in an attempt to ascertain a current UTGSU membership list. The University of Toronto’s Office of the Vice-Provost, Students position about the sharing of student information with the CFS/CFS-O was quoted in a October 25 email from Brad Evoy to Alastair Woods: “Given our obligations under privacy legislation, the University is not in a position to provide the raw student data to CFS…”

From then on, officials from the UTGSU, CFS, CFS-O and the University of Toronto went back and forth in an attempt to reach a compromise. The U of T eventually agreed to provide a student list to a third-party auditing firm in order to ensure compliance with provincial privacy laws. Following the approval of the use of a third-party auditor to verify the petition during a special meeting of the CFS-O executive committee that took place on January 16, 2014, the interview process began on January 20. Ultimately, Deloitte was selected to conduct the third-party review. On February 6, 2014, CFS deputy chairperson Vanessa Hunt confirmed that the national executive had “approved the use of a third-party auditing firm to verify of names appearing on the petition requesting a vote on the question of continued membership.”

Deloitte submitted its proposal to the CFS and CFS-O on January 31, 2014. Once both Federations signed their respective contracts, Mr. Youssef (Deloitte) confirmed with Jeremy Salter (CFS-O) on February 26, 2014 that he had received the student list from the University of Toronto. Ultimately, on April 7, 2014, Mr. Youssef informed Ms. Hunt that the verification process was complete and that 19.53% of the petitions were valid. Following the release of Deloitte’s final petition verification reports (CFS report; CFS-O report), the UTGSU and the CFS/CFS-O reached a confidential settlement in mid-October 2014 which would allow for a referendum on continued membership to take place from November 24-28, 2014 with campaigning beginning on November 10.