The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) National, the country’s largest association of students’ unions and a group of which the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) is a member, may have violated its own bylaws in pursuing litigation against one of its member student unions, according to UTSU Vice-President Internal Daman Singh.
On March 21, 2017, CFS National filed a civil suit against the Selkirk College Students’ Union and its Executive Director, Zachary Crispin, claiming that Selkirk failed to properly follow the process of holding a referendum on membership. This suit, however, was apparently not approved by the National Executive, the body representing both federal and provincial CFS leadership, prior to being filed, according to Jenelle Davies, British Columbia representative on the executive. This contravenes CFS Bylaw IV.2.1, which stipulates that the National Executive “shall have exclusive authority” to initiate legal action on behalf of the federation.
CFS Executive Director Toby Whitfield indicated the suit was discussed in camera at a National Executive meeting on March 23, two days after the claim was filed. Davies claimed she was unaware of this meeting.
If the National Executive had approved the claim, it would have been marked on record, which is not reflected in the minutes, said Davies.
Although the suit has been dropped by CFS National, the Selkirk College Students’ Union cannot administer a referendum without CFS cooperation.
Santanna Hernandez, chairperson of the union, said that Selkirk College students filed a second petition for a referendum on terminating membership with CFS National in November 2017, after they indicated that they would like to leave the CFS in a plebiscite. This petition has been verified by CFS National, but a referendum on the union’s membership has yet to be scheduled.
CFS National did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment.