Council on summer break

After the first and last council meeting of the summer semester in June, councillors Fady Abdallah, James Doyle and Andrew Fernandes called a special council meeting on Aug. 2. Motions proposed were to remove two independent councillors, Steven Rosenshein and David Kogut, and to condemn the CSU Executive for “their lack of vision, their engagement in personal petty politics and their failure to act upon their duties as elected officials of the CSU.”
According to Fernandes, their motion’s objective was to establish a precedent for accountability. “If [the Executive] intended to spend student money on legal fees, if they intended to sever ties with McGill, then they should require the approval of council. These are significant decisions and are liable to have an impact on the student movement,” said Andrew Fernandes, an arts and science councillor.
CSU President Angelica Novoa canceled the meeting. She stated in an e-mail to council that the motions submitted were in violation of the CSU’s bylaws and standing regulations, but also “quite possibly corporate law. Due to these reasons and as per bylaw 7.1.1 e) I am invoking my presidential veto and canceling the calling of this meeting.”
“Unfortunately [they] didn’t follow procedure,” said Novoa. “They tried to hold the meeting regardless, but nothing that happened there is legitimate for the CSU.”
A second special council meeting was called for Aug. 13 by Fernandes, Abdallah and Matthew Forget with virtually the same motions, but they were defeated.
Novoa wrote an open letter to councillors about future emergency council meetings. “The fact that the movers of motions… that accused the CSU Executive of acting against the interests of the Quebec student movement, had never come to speak to any member of my Executive, shows that these motions are the worst kinds of politics,” wrote Novoa.
VP Communications Noah Stewart said he was concerned that councillors were going outside the CSU to get their information. Outside of the two special meetings being called, Stewart said “not one councillor” came to them for any background in the CFS-Q legal case.
Fernandes disagrees. He said that he and other councillors had asked to see records of the CSU’s legal spending, but were told that a budget report would take too long to prepare.
“One of the other things we want is to require the CSU to divulge their spending,” said Fernandes in an interview last Friday. “It seems to me that if they have nothing to hide, they would not be as hesitant to grant our request,” he said. “Nina [Amrov] is being sued for tens of thousands of dollars. We know that the CSU has engaged legal firms.”
Responding directly as to the question of whether “tens of thousands of dollars” was being spent, VP Finance Fauve Castagna said that figure is “a huge overestimate. It is possible that the lawyers hired by CFS or other entities are paying these large amounts, but I will stand firm that the CSU has not incurred costs anywhere near that amount.”
“I would say that a fair estimate of the total spent to date on the CFS-Q situation would be in the neighbourhood of $1,500,” said Castagna. “This number could go up since we are still awaiting another invoice. Again though, from the services we have solicited, there is no indication that there would be a drastic increase.”
Novoa said they, the Executive, are going to make a full report on the CFS-Q matter and the CSU executive’s legal expenses to council at the next monthly meeting, on Sept. 19.


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