Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The CFS campaign

Here are all the interesting websites relating to the defederation campaigns at SFU, Kwantlen, and the University of Victoria:

CFS campaign site for Simon Fraser University:
CFS campaign site for University of Victoria Graduates:
Camosun College Student Society site:
CFS-BC 'membership development':
I AM CFS Facebook group

Simon Fraser Student Society site:
Kwantlen Student Association site:
University of Victoria Graduate Students' Society site:
WE WANT OUT Facebook group (SFU)
Kwantlen students want out of the CFS! Facebook group

The Canadian Federation of Students Debate - A Neutral Forum Facebook group

Also, the CFS has applied to the Supreme Court of British Columbia for an injunction postponing the KSA's defederation referendum to the fall of 2008. The KSA has put up a site listing the documents filed by both sides in this case:
Erin Millar reported on this controversy at

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Where, oh where have all the financial statements gone?

  • At the CFS-BC Executive Committee meeting held last weekend, members were informed that the audited financial statements of the organization for 2005 and 2006 are still not available for approval. (At the February 2007 meeting, we had been informed that the 2005 statements were almost completed, and copies would be sent to all member student associations within three weeks.) Scott Payne, BC Chairperson, said that the auditor, Charlie Miller of Tompkins, Wozny, Miller, was not prioritising the CFS-BC audit as he was devoting the majority of his time to establishing his own firm.

  • At the same meeting, members were informed that the audited financial statements of the Douglas Students' Union for 2005 and 2006 are also not completed, despite the Supreme Court appointment of Marne Jensen (University of Victoria Students' Society [UVSS] General Manager) as Receiver-Manager. I have received no explanation for why these statements are not complete. The Douglas Students' Union is also audited by Tompkins, Wozny, Miller.

    In her Affidavit sworn October 25, 2006, Marne Jensen said: "I expect to be in a position to forward the remaining financial documents to Calvin Tompkins so that the audit for the fiscal year 2005 can be completed within the next 6 - 8 weeks, at which time the society will be in compliance with the College and Institute Act" (para. 12). Similarly, in his Affidavit sworn October 31, 2006, Calvin Tompkins said: "In order to complete the 2005 financial statements we still require the society's books to be written up and reconciled for at least the first 6 months of the 2006 fiscal year, and a list of other required documentation has been provided to the DSU. As soon as we have that information we expect to be able to complete the 2005 financial statements within 2 - 3 weeks."

  • As the Douglas Students' Union's contact page indicates, Ms. Jensen as hired Ben Johnson as her assistant. Mr. Johnson was the Chief Electoral Officer of the UVSS in 2006. In addition, I have been informed that at least two individuals associated with the UVSS have been appointed to substitute for Mr. Johnson on days when he was not available: Naomi Devine and Penny Beames. (My sources tell me that Ms. Devine and Ms. Beames have only worked a couple of days each at the DSU.)

    Naomi Devine, a director of the UVic Sustainability Project, was an unsuccessful candidate for UVSS Director in the 2006 election that Mr. Johnson oversaw (and a successful candidate for Student Senator).

    Penny Beames was the (ultimately) candidate for Chairperson of the UVSS in the 2006 election. Thus, it would appear that she and Ms. Jensen are in the peculiar position of being each other's supervisors - albeit at two different students' unions, on different sides of the Georgia Straight. (Ms. Beames' term as Chairperson ends very shortly.)

  • My sources have also told me that the Malaspina Students' Union has loaned $20,000 to the Douglas Students' Union, without signed documentation. (The Malaspina Students' Union won the competition to host the 2007 conference of the Federation of Canadian Student Leaders. However, their General Manager was unable to give me any meaningful information concerning the details of this conference.)

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Direct democracy at UVic

The University of Victoria Students' Society held a most eventful Special General Meeting on March 30, 2007.

First, the SGM passed a motion establishing an independent legal investigation into the 2006 general election by a named lawyer - Bruce Hallsor - without specifying a spending cap on this investigation. The 2006 election was marred by controversy, involving incumbent Chairperson Penny Beames suing the UVSS over the issue of whether or not opponent Mike Waters, who received slightly more votes than she did, should be disqualified for alleged campaign rule violations. As a result of this motion's passage, only another general meeting can alter Mr. Hallsor's authority to investigate the election.

Bruce Hallsor
is involved with Fair Vote Canada, and he is also a Conservative Party activist, and a former candidate for the Canadian Alliance. He was recommended by Erica Virtue, the incoming UVSS Director of Services and the sole winning executive candidate from the "Vote A.C.T. Now" slate. Virtue may have to mend some fences this year; Erin Sikora, a former director of the UVSS, has alleged that she made some unconciliatory comments regarding her competitors at the close of her election campaign. (Virtue is also part of the "UVic Young Republicans" and "A referendum to have the UVSS leave the CFS" Facebook groups.)

The second interesting motion that was introduced was a motion giving $20,000 a year to various student engineering societies - which likely would have passed, since engineering students dominated the meeting room - except that opponents of the motion staged a walk-out, forcing the meeting to lose quorum. This exact strategy was used at the SFSS Annual General Meeting in 2003, and a modification of that strategy was used to derail an impeachment effort at the Douglas Students' Union just a few months ago. (Even if the SGM remained quorate, however, it is doubtful that the engineers would have been able to get their UVSS gravy train; under Robert's Rules of Order, no business can be legitimately entertained at a special general meeting unless previous notice of motion is given.)

General meetings of students' unions are required by provincial legislation in British Columbia, but the phenomenon is not universal. To my knowledge, Alberta and Ontario students' unions do not have general meetings. In contrast many have linked the success of the Quebec student movement to their reliance on direct democracy in the form of student general meetings.

[EDITED the third paragraph 2007-04-21.]


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Society of the Douglas Students' Union v. Douglas College

This is what I have been working on:
This is the entire contents of the court file in the Douglas Students' Union court case. It's rather large - over 300 pages (which cost me over $300.00 in photocopy charges) - but I think you will agree that the facts and arguments in this file should be of profound concern not only to the students of Douglas College, but also to the student movement in general.

(P.S.: My sincere apologies for my paucity of blogging these past couple of weeks. I have been very busy. Hopefully blogging will return to a more regular schedule.)

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

"Vote Act Now" v. "Team FAST" battle for control of the University of Victoria Students' Society

Elections to the Board of Directors of the University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) are in full swing, and for the fourth consecutive year, the election appears to be a classic battle between right- and left-leaning slates. "Putting Students First," a left-leaning slate, had held firm control of the students' union until 2004, when "Students for Change" won two executive seats and four director-at-large positions. In 2005, the "Coalition of Independent Students" won seven director-at-large positions, without winning a single executive position. The 2006 elections were the most contentious, leading to a lawsuit over the position of Chairperson, eventually won by Penny-Lane Beames. In the end, "Students for Progressive Change" won three out of four executive positions, while "Students for Students" won nine out of eleven director-at-large positions.

This year, the left is running under the banner of "Team FAST," where FAST is a double acronym, standing for "For A Sustainable Tomorrow" and "Financial and Social Responsibility; Accessible & Quality Education; Sustainable Campus Life; and Transit & Services." Their executive candidates are:
The right is running under the name "Vote A.C.T. Now," where A.C.T. stands for "Accountability, Change, Transparency." Their executive candidates are:
Both slates are running candidates for director-at-large positions, though Team FAST is only running five candidates in contrast to Vote A.C.T. Now's full slate of eleven candidates. The full list of candidates - including candidates for the university Board of Governors and Senate - is available on the annual elections supplement (PDF).

The Martlet has reported on the initial debate between Tracy Ho and George Robinson. It noted that although Tracy Ho was an experienced candidate, her experience was in the Students' Unions of Vancouver Community College, where she served as Chairperson until Spring 2006, and not the UVSS. In contrast, George Robinson, though never having served as a students' union executive, does have two years' experience serving on Senate.

One thing that I noticed is the lack of incumbents in this race. With the exception of Jamie Strachan (running for re-election as Director of Finance) and Andrew Bateman (running for re-election as director-at-large), all of the candidates have never before served on the UVSS Board of Directors - although some have tried. Depending on the election results, it could end up being that very few of the new members of the Board will have had actual experience serving as a director. A similar situation occurred at the Simon Fraser Student Society in 2006, to decidedly mixed results....


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Purely Factual News

In purely factual news:
  • Amanda Aziz is the National Chairperson-elect of the Canadian Federation of Students. Unless the bylaws have been changed, her term technically began at the close of the 2006 Semi-Annual General Meeting (i.e. on May 28), but the CFS web site has not yet been updated to reflect that fact
  • Penny Beames' struggle to win a second term as Chairperson of the University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) has succeeded. At the May 4, 2006 meeting of the Board, the following motion was passed:

    "WHEREAS the appeal process involving Mike Waters and Penny Beames has already cost the society thousands of dollars; and
    WHEREAS Mike Waters has requested that no further action be taken on this matter so as to prevent further losses to the Society; therefore
    BIRT although the Board finds highly suspect the conduct of the previous Board in regards to the disqualification of Mike Waters, this Board does not wish to pursue the issue any further."

    Ms. Beames is now in charge of the UVSS - notwithstanding the fact that a majority of the members of its Board of Directors were part of an opposing slate, the fact that that slate's candidate for Chairperson received more votes than her before being disqualified, and the fact that the Board of Directors officially considers "highly suspect" the process that lead to Ms. Beames' acquisition of the Chairpersonship for 2006/07. All of which leads to the inevitable question: how will the UVSS survive this year?

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Covering All Their Bases

In a previous post, I noted that the CCSA (Canadian Congress of Student Associations) has recently been incorporated, and that persons closely associated with the Canadian Federation of Students now constitute the Board of Directors of the organization. But as it turns out, our friends have been very busy: in addition to incorporating the Canadian Conference of Student Associations, they have also incorporated three of its components: SuperConference, MoneyConference, and Canadian Academic Roundtable (CART). Here is the relevant information concerning the interesting individuals who now control these organizations:

1. SuperConference (SuperCon) - Corporation #4315090
Incorporated August 8, 2005
Mailing Address: Sarah Amyot's home address
2. Moneycon - Corporation #4264215
Incorporated December 12, 2004
Mailing Address: Amanda Aziz's former home address
3. Canadian Academic Roundtable - Corporation #4255208
Incorporated August 30, 2004
Mailing Address: 109 NIAGARA ST. BOX 88, Toronto, ON (anyone know where this is?)
  • Jeremy Salter (also on the CCSA Board; described earlier)
  • James Bouen, for which information is currently unavailable
  • Caitlen Brown, a staffer working for the University of Winnipeg Students' Association (CFS Local 8). Mr. Brown has served as the Vice-President of UWSA in 2004. She served as Chief Returning Officer (CRO) for the 2006 UMSU (CFS Local 103) elections, where she was slammed by the local student newspaper for alleged partiality. She presently serves as the Women's Representative on the Executive of CFS-Manitoba, and also represents the CFS at meetings of the Winnipeg Labour Council.

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Mike Waters is an Unperson

Those familiar with my earlier coverage (here, here, and here) of the UVSS (University of Victoria Students' Society) 2006 general elections will know that Mike Waters was a candidate with the "Students for Students" slate for Chairperson, facing off against incumbent Penny Beames and independent candidate Chadi Akouri. But one would not know that simply by looking at the UVSS homepage. Said homepage now contains the "2006/7 UVSS Final Election Results," (PDF) but Mr. Waters' name appears nowhere on these results. For Chairperson, the Final Election Results simply state that there were two opponents for Chairperson: Penny Beames and Chadi Akouri, and that Beames beat Akouri 962 to 680 votes. The results did not even indicate that Mr. Waters had been disqualified....

All of which contradict the latest relevant minutes of the UVSS Board meeting that have been posted online, wherein the Board refused to reverse the decision of the UVSS Elections Committee not to disqualify Mr. Waters for alleged electoral infractions.



Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More Info Re: UVSS Lawsuit

The minutes of the University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) Board of Directors meetings provide a wealth of information for those more interested in the ongoing legal battle over the election of the Chairperson for the coming year.

Most important is the March 28, 2006 meeting of the Board (PDF), which was attended by a Who's Who of student politicians: Students for Students candidates, Students for Progressive Change candidates, UVSS lawyer Daniel Mildenberger, Access UVic personalities Orion Carrier and Rose Mariana Robb, UVSS Chief Electoral Officer Ben Johnson. And, of course, Dallas Henault - campaign manager for "Students for Students" and BC Liberal operative. Briefly stated: after extensive debate, the Board narrowly voted not to reverse the decision of the Elections Committee to reverse the decision of the Chief Electoral Officer to disqualify Students for Students Chairperson candidate Mike Waters. Translation: Waters stays in the race.

But, of course, there is always another level of appeal, the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The minutes of the April 11, 2006 meeting of the Board (PDF) clear indicate that Penny Beames, 2005-2006 (and perhaps 2006-2007?) Chairperson, was in the process of suing the UVSS that she was leasing. The BoD then passed a resolution designating re-elected Director of Services Mark Chandler as the "instructing client" on behalf of the UVSS, to avoid a situation whereby Beames would be giving instructions to both sides in the court case.

Judging from the March 28 minutes, where it appears that independent candidate for Chairperson Chadi Akouri clearly knew the results of the Chairperson election (page 9), I believe that the following conclusions can be drawn:
(1) The ballots for Chairperson have been counted.
(2) Mike Waters won the most votes (or else Beames wouldn't have bothered to file a lawsuit).

All in all, an interesting case!

Previous posts relating to the UVSS can be found here and here.


Monday, April 24, 2006

The Rewards of Loyalty?

Faithful readers of might be familiar with Joanna Groves. She was appointed Director of Services of the University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) in 2002, and won the position of Director of Finance in 2003. In 2004, she was elected Chairperson, defeating opposition candidate Dallas Henault and allegedly breaking the UVSS term-limits bylaw. The following year, she faced criticism for chairing the UVSS Electoral Committee despite her firm support for the Putting Students First slate, support which went so far as lending the key to a CFS-leased room (in space owned by the UVSS) to that slate for the purpose of storing campaign materials.

Some readers may also be familiar with the Selkirk Students' Association. Probably not that much familiarity; it's a very small organization, serving the student body at a small institution. But readers might know that it is, and has been for many years, affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Students, a trait that it shares with, inter alia, the UVSS.

But, I suspect that few readers knew that Joanna Groves is now the key staff person (with a job title that I'll bet is "Resource Coordinator") of the Selkirk Students' Association!


Yet Another Lawsuit Against the UVSS

In an earlier post, commented on the ongoing saga that is the 2006 elections of the University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS). For those who don't have the time to read my earlier post: two slates warred against each other for dominance in the annual UVSS elections, the left-leaning "Students for Progressive Change" (SfPC) slate and the right-leaning "Students for Students" (SfS) slate. As the dust settled, it appeared that Students for Students won a majority of seats, including the position of Chairperson. However, matters were clouded when the Chief Returning Officer disqualified both slates' candidates for Chairperson, Penny Beames (SfPC) and Mike Waters (SfS). Both disqualifications were reversed on appeal to the Elections Committee, a decision which was sustained by the UVSS Board of Directors when Beames appealed the reversal of Waters' disqualification.

Now, the matter is before the courts; sources have informed me that Penny Beames has filed a lawsuit before the Supreme Court of British Columbia, demanding that the disqualification of Mike Waters (for allegedly receiving, contrary to the rules, an endorsement by the "Access UVic" student group) not be overturned. I am unaware as to when this court case will be heard.

After several weeks of inaction, the UVSS has released "Preliminary Election Results" (PDF) of the 2006 election on its website. A quick summary of the results:

  • Results for position of Chairperson have not yet been released
  • Jamie Strachan (SfPC) will be the new Director of Finance
  • Incumbent Mark Chandler will continue as Director of Services. Chandler was opposed by SfS, but faced no opposition from SfPC.
  • Jeremy David Peters (SfS) will be the new Director of Academics. Peters beat SfPC candidate Jonny Morris, despite the fact that Peters had no experience on the Board in contrast to Morris' two years' experience as a Director At-Large.
  • Nine candidates from Students for Students were elected as Directors At-Large: Andrew Bateman, Rakhi Bhatnagar, Allisan Chan, Alex Chang, Trenton Crawford, Conrad Field, Kienan Hamm, Sara Postle, and Janet Shivas.
  • Two candidates from Students for Progressive Change were elected as Directors At-Large: Maggi Gyuricska and Erin Sikora. Sikora is a current BC Young NDP co-chair, may have been a candidate in the 2000 federal election, and has previous students' union experience on the Council of the Langara Students' Union.
  • Chadi Akouri (Independent) and Penny Beames (SfPC) were elected to the Board of Governors. Note that students elected to the Board of Governors do not automatically sit on the UVSS Board of Directors.

The full list of candidates, with their pictures and biographies, was removed from the UVSS homepage shortly after the end of the election, but the webmaster helpfully failed to remove this page from the UVSS website.

UVSS watchers should note that there is a further "unknown factor" in these elections: the five constituency representatives, representing the five constitutional UVSS advocacy groups: Access UVic, Native Students' Union, Pride Collective, Students of Colour Collective, and the Women's Centre. All in all, this makes for a twenty-member Board of Directors (four executives, eleven directors at-large, and five constituency reps). The Students for Students slate have clearly won ten positions; if the court battle gives their man Mike Waters the nod to lead the UVSS as Chairperson, that slate would control an absolute majority for the coming year.

All of this must be old hat to Timothy McGuire. In 1996, McGuire ran for the position of Director of Finance of the UVSS, but was disqualified by the Elections Committee for sending out a mass email to all Commerce students the day before the election containing an endorsement from the Commerce Students' Society. (UVSS rules prohibit endorsements by means other than posters and letters to the editor; they prohibit endorsements being published within one week of the election; and they require that all campaign material not be visible to candidates on the day of the start of the elections.) The matter ended up before the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which ruled that the UVSS had not erred in disqualifying him.

Thus, if past precedent is any guide, it would appear that the courts are reluctant to interfere in the internal processes of a private organization. Whether Mr. Waters will benefit from this tradition remains to be seen....

Incidentally, those who believe in poetic justice might chuckle at an October 2003 blistering letter to the editor by Richard Warnica, entitled "Electoral Reform starts at home." Warnica (who, since leaving the University of Victoria, has lent his services to The Tyee and the Thunderbird UBC Online Journalism Review) stated that "the voting system used by the UVSS produces a one party board precisely because it was never designed to accommodate parties at all." He went on to say: "By running a full slate of 10 candidates and by relying on team campaigning–in which the PSF logo is given prominence over the name of the candidate and party objectives are trumpeted on each platform, the PSF conditions students to vote overwhelmingly for the party as opposed to the individual." A quick survey of the 2006 results reveals that Students for Progressive Change At-Large candidates grabbed 42% of the vote, but only 18% of the At-Large seats, whereas Students for Students At-Large candidates grabbed 54% of the vote, and 82% of the At-Large seats. ("Putting Students First" transformed into "Students for Progressive Change" in time for the 2006 general election.)


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Malaspina University-College Elections

The brand new Malaspina Students' Union website declares that the elections would take place on March 7, 8, and 9 for a number of different positions. The Electoral Committee would consist of General Manager Stephen Beasley, Director At-Large Kim Granneman, and General Member Melanie Vogels. Said committee would delegate their responsibility to a Chief Electoral Officer, whose name is unknown. Since that was almost a month ago, one can only presume that the non-presence of the results of this election on the MSU website are simply due to administrative delays.

The presence of staff and directors on an elections committee has historically been problematic. The 2005 General Election of the University of Victoria Students' Society was marred by accusations that Joanna Groves, then UVSS Chairperson, ought not to have been the Chairperson of the UVSS Elections Committee due to her partisan campaign activity on behalf of the Putting Students First slate. Similarly, the 2005 Kwantlen Student Association election was marred by complaints failed against the KSA Chief Returning Officer and several members of the KSA Elections Committee, on, among other reasons, the grounds that they, being staff of the KSA, had an interest in the election.

Of course, the Malaspina Students' Union Elections Committee does have a third member: General Member Melanie Vogels. One would presume that out of the presumably large number of General Members, at least one of them could be found who has no potential entangling links with student politics. Unfortunately, such a person was not found. Vogels has a long association with student politics, as a contact person for the MSU in 2004, as a current member of the Malaspina Education Council, as a member of the Malaspina Board of Governors in 2004, and as representative of the North Island Students' Association in 2002.

Let be be perfectly clear: I am not saying that Beasley, Granneman, and Vogels are partisan hacks who are out to ensure that their favoured candidates win the election. All I'm saying is this: it's generally not a good idea to have current or former staff, directors, or candidates in charge of your election, if only to avoid the perception of impropriety.

Fortunately, we know who won the elections, although not the names of their competitors, since the results are published in The Nav, the MSU-produced and controlled student newspaper.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

University of Victoria Elections

The University of Victoria Students' Society website still has not posted who won their 2006 general election. But it is fair to say that things are set to change in a rather substantial way.

The left-leaning Putting Students First party had an impressive record - sweeping the UVSS Board for several consecutive years. But in 2004, things changed with the election of two executives and several directors-at-large from the right-leaning Students for Change slate. Rebranded as the oxymoronic Coalition of Independent Students, this slate won seven at-large seats in 2005, while being narrowly shut out of the four executive positions. In 2006, this party settled on Students for Students, while Putting Students First attempted to re-brand itself as Students for Progressive Change. After heated debate, and a lot of campaigning, my sources tell me that Students for Students has won a majority on the UVSS Board of Directors.

However, the battle is not yet over, as the main parties' candidates for Chairperson, Penny Beames and Mike Waters, were disqualified by the Chief Electoral Officer for miscellaneous violations. Both of these disqualifications were reversed on appeal to the Elections Committee one week later. Beames appealed the disqualification of her opponent to the UVSS Board of Directors, which chose to uphold the Elections Committee's decision to keep Waters in the race. But the results have yet to be released - and the news says that Penny Beames and Mike Waters are neck-and-neck.

One reason why Students for Students may have done so well was due to the tensions between Access UVic - a group representing disabled students on campus - and the UVSS executive. In particular, Penny Beames was faulted for decisions regarding Access UVic that critics said were made without adequately consulting the group. Letters to the editor demonstrate the tensions surrounding the issue.

The apparent victory of Students for Students may have wider implications, as sources tell me that this slate is thinking of trying to pull the UVSS out of the loving arms of the Canadian Federation of Students. Considering the historic involvement of the UVSS in the CFS, only time will tell whether this intiative will get off the ground.