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Student lobby groups back in court, again

by admin February 2, 2010

Quebec members of the Canadian Federation of Students are no closer to reaching an agreement over the nature of their organization after the Federation’s annual general meeting last week.
While the national federation only recognizes a “Quebec component” as defined by their standing resolutions, three of the four member unions in Quebec recognize the CFS-Quebec inc., a non-profit corporation, as the “Quebec component.”
The Concordia Student Union, Concordia Graduate Students’ Association and the Post Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University introduced a motion at the CFS Annual General Meeting to withdraw standing resolution 31, which defines the component, but it was defeated.

CFS national deputy chair Noah Stewart-Ornstein spoke against the motion. Saying that while CFS-Q inc. had been recognized by the Federation several years ago it no longer was.
Stewart-Ornstein was on the board of CFS-Q inc. until July. CFS-Q inc. is currently pursing legal action against Stewart-Ornstein, former VP finance for the CSU.
Resolution 31 was passed in 2007 when the CFS-Q was under a court-ordered lockout, during a legal dispute between two rival boards.
Meetings of the Quebec unions at the CFS AGM got off to a rocky start on Thursday as delegates from the three unions refused to recognize Stewart-Ornstein as chair.
However a compromise was reached after delegates from the Dawson Student Union walked out of the meeting. The DSU has not taken a stance on the issue and said they are seeking legal council.

The compromise, allowed the Quebec unions to elect a representative to the Federation’s national executive, which was recognized by CFS.
Gregory Johannson, a Concordia student, and president of CFS-Q inc. was elected.
Johannson said he was surprised that his election was ratified by the entire CFS membership. He said that while he hoped it would allow him to make change within the organization he felt it was a token gesture.
The three unions had introduced a series of sweeping reforms to the CFS. While some of the reforms dealt with transparency and accountability, others included ending lawsuits against schools attempting to leave the CFS, separating the CFS from its for-profit subsidiary CFS-Services and setting the salaries of CFS executives and employees at minimum wage.
All of the reforms were defeated, withdrawn or heavily amended at the AGM.