When the Canadian Federation of Students refused to recognize the CSU’s referendum last spring, then-president Prince Ralph Osei said the student union would be preparing for a legal battle. With a summer of planning behind them, the CSU executive now seems ready to turn that preparation into action.
“After having met with our lawyers we are beginning the legal proceedings,” said current CSU president Heather Lucas.
At a special council meeting in August, then-president Prince Ralph Osei told the CSU legal council that during the summer the executive “sat down, we strategized, we talked to the lawyer.” After weighing four different courses of action, Osei said that their lawyers advised the CSU not leave things in the hands of the CFS and begin to pursue both legal and political action.
They were told “to go forth in the court, have an independent judge in Quebec rule in regard to our continued membership in the CFS and, recognizing that the CFS is a political organization such as the CSU, to attack them where it probably huts them most,” Osei said.
When asked about their strategy for political attack, Lucas could only say “We will be gathering our resources to ensure that people don’t forget how infringing the CFS is.”
In addition to an amount annually allocated to legal costs, the CSU will be using interest gained from the nearly $300,000 in student fees from the past two years normally given to the CFS but currently being kept in a trust in order to help fund their legal fight.
“By the end of our mandate we should have $600,000 in a bank, waiting for the CFS government to end for us to give this money over to them,” Osei said. “The least we could do is take the interest from this money and fund the case against the CFS.”
While Osei has expressed confidence in their case, the CSU is by no means underestimating the CFS in a legal setting.
“The CFS is well versed in the courtroom since 1993,” Lucas said, “so this will be nothing new to them.”
When asked about a foreseeable end to this legal conflict, Lucas said “the sooner the better for all of us,” but hinted that she expects it will be some time before the CFS question is resolved.
Osei, on the other hand, was slightly more blunt on his expectations for the case.
“We must not forget that we are dealing with a well-oiled political machine,” he said. “They have mastered the act of taking harmless student unions to court for sometimes 4-6 years.”