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Canadian Federation of Students demanding $1.8 million

by The Concordian February 7, 2012

As legal proceedings continue between the Canadian Federation of Students and the Concordia Student Union, the stakes appear to have gone up. The CFS is claiming that they are now owed $1.8 million in unpaid membership fees.
Despite the vote which took place in 2009 at Concordia to discontinue the CSU’s membership in the CFS, the national organization has not recognized the results and still considers the university a member. The CSU has since refused to pay any further membership fees, which continue to rack up.
In 2011, the CSU became the eighth student union in three years to try and sue its way out of the CFS. CSU President Lex Gill helped file the initial petition for the vote and said this has been a chronic pattern with the CFS in recent years.
“Historically, the CFS has used mechanisms of ‘unpaid fees’ to prevent members from leaving the organization,” she said. “There is something wrong with an organization that won’t let its members leave without court intervention.”
Despite the overwhelming majority of Concordia undergraduates who voted to leave the CFS, the organization’s bylaws state that a vote can’t be held until all fees are paid.
Since the lawsuit, the CFS has produced a document which Gill calls “highly suspicious,” claiming acknowledgement of debt from former CSU President Keyana Kashfi. They claim that Kashfi signed a statement prior to the vote confirming that the CSU owes the CFS over $1 million.
Gill explained the CFS is demanding unpaid fees dating back to the ‘90s before the Engineering or JSMB faculties were part of the CSU. She went on to say that they are seeking payments which were made to the office of CFS Quebec, a separate legal entity from CFS’ national office.
“[The CFS’s] calculations are illogical,” she said. “I am completely firm in my conviction that we do not owe the CFS $1.8 million and never have.”
The CSU, as well as Concordia’s Graduate Students’ Association, are both in the midst of legal proceedings with the CFS, and Gill doesn’t expect to be done anytime soon. “This process takes years,” she said.
The CSU is seeking $100,000 in damages from the CFS, citing its actions as being in violation of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. “The CFS refuses to recognize the democratic will of students,” Gill said.
Despite repeated attempts, the CFS never returned phone calls for comment.

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