VP external Simon-Pierre Lauzon and VP finance Keny Toto were asked to resign following a lengthy debate at the CSU’s regular council meeting,Wednesday night.The request for their resignation was a result of their roles in the mismanagement of funds for the ASFA Talks speaker series earlier this year.
As reported in The Concordian earlier this week, the motion was presented to council by Councillor Chad Walcott, who felt that Lauzon and Toto’s actions were in breach of a number of bylaws and standing regulations meant to provide oversight for the transfer or merging of funds from different lines in the CSU’s budget. In the ASFA Talks case, the offending decision was to use both the speaker series budget ($10,900) and the campaigns budgets ($20,100) to pay for a speaker at the event and to help with promotion.
At the meeting, councillors debated for over an hour about the intentions behind the move. The debate centered around whether Lauzon and Toto had received the authorization from then-president Schubert Laforest, and whether a request for resignation was too strong a punishment for their actions.
Lauzon, who outlined his involvement in the management of funds for ASFA talks in his executive report, admitted at the meeting that he and Toto had made a mistake in not correctly checking the bylaws before signing the contract that bound them to the payment of $30,000. Lauzon also said that when he approached both Toto and the CSU president about the matter and was told to proceed, he felt he had done his due diligence and did not check the bylaws himself.
“At the time I was totally ignorant of the bylaw that said anything above $10,000 you should go to [the financial committee], which is the entire reason we’re having this conversation, because I made a mistake,” he said. “I assumed that such a policy would have been made available to me when I approached both the president and VP finance, to ask them how do I go forward with this kind of transaction.”
The situation was made even more complicated when Laforest interjected via Twitter to say that he had had no such involvement and had not spoken to Lauzon about the issue or given him the go-ahead to proceed without consulting the finance committee. The Concordian reached out to Laforest to clarify his comments, but has so far received no response.
After the debate a vote was taken and both executives were asked to resign. The vote for Lauzon’s resignation received seven votes for and six votes against. The vote for Toto’s resignation received 11 votes for and 2 abstentions. Although the requests for resignation are not binding, they could be followed by an impeachment if the request is denied and council decides to continue to pursue the matter. If either executive chooses to resign, they will need to send their resignation in writing to the chairperson of the CSU.