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Judicial Board rules in favour of council

by Matthew Guité March 12, 2013
Judicial Board rules in favour of council

In a unanimous decision late Wednesday night, the Concordia Student Union’s Judicial Board ruled in favour of plaintiff Gonzo Nieto on the matter of choosing a new CSU president.

In its decision, JB cited CSU bylaw 6.3C and standing regulation 52 as the fundamental basis for the conclusion that council is not forced to appoint the only vice-president who is willing or to remain leaderless. Bylaw 6.3C states that council will “act as the final authority on appointments of the student union” while standing regulation 52 states that “all internal and external appointments by council shall be by ordinary resolution.”

The complaint, originally submitted by councillors Nieto and James Vaccaro, stems from a regular meeting held on Feb.13. During the meeting, the executive presented VP clubs and internal Nadine Atallah to replace former President Schubert Laforest, who resigned due to health issues.

After hours of arguing, clashing over bylaws and threats of legal action, council rejected the proposal and Atallah refused to rescind her candidacy, leaving the CSU in a deadlock while the issue was sent to JB.

The central issue of the case was two separate interpretations of bylaw 7.4, which states that should there be a vacancy in the presidency, council shall appoint a president from the vice-presidents and should no vice-presidents be willing then a councillor may be appointed with two-thirds majority of votes.

The executive believed that council was violating the bylaws since Atallah was the only vice-president willing to take on the position. Conversely, council expressed their discontent, asking for a second option from the executive or to appoint a councillor.

During the hearing, Nieto represented the councillors who had issue with the idea of being forced to choose Atallah, while Atallah and VP external Simon-Pierre Lauzon represented the executive. Over the course of the two-hour meeting, both sides argued their points before the five members of JB. After two hours of closed session deliberation the decision was made public.

Following the decision, Lauzon told The Concordian that the decision would allow the process of choosing a president to move forward.

“The decision defined the boundaries between which we can work,” Lauzon said.

Nadine Atallah told The Concordian that she was happy to have a ruling from the Judicial Board that would allow them to move forward with a discussion.

“I’m glad they were able to clear things up, and I’m glad they recognized that there needs to be some change to the policy as it is unclear,” she said.

The executive is set to present four executives as options: Atallah, Lauzon, VP academic and advocacy Hajar El Jahidi and VP Loyola Stefan Faina.

Nieto said that he was pleased with the decision the Board had reached but admitted that neither bylaw 6.3C nor standing regulation 52 were included in his argumentation despite the role they played in deciding the issue. Atallah also told The Concordian that 6.3C was not included in any of the arguments presented, and that its inclusion in the decision was a matter of the Judicial Board’s own research.

“We were debating this particular by-law, 7.4, and so we were arguing about how to interpret it rather than the entirety of the bylaws,” she said.

Vaccaro said he hopes the CSU can move forward from the impasse and that he was happy that JB recognized the importance of council.

Bylaw 6.3C “recognizes what the executive seems to be repeatedly neglecting,” he said. “The council of representatives is there to look out for the interests of students and represent them at all costs. The executive is elected to execute the will of council, which represents the will of students in lieu of a meeting of members.”

Nieto said that going forward he hoped other executives would present themselves as candidates, citing VP sustainability Andrew Roberts as an example.

“The thing with [Roberts] is that he keeps bringing up this thing about not liking the politics side of the position, and that’s exactly why we want him, because he’s been a very forthcoming, open and transparent person that’s shown the ability to listen attentively to both sides,” said Vaccaro.

The next regular CSU meeting is this Wednesday where the issue of presidency will be addressed.

With files from Kalina Laframboise

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