Concordia grad students sue Canadian Federation of Students

Third Quebec student union to file suit against national lobby group

The Concordia Graduate Students’ Association has filed a lawsuit seeking to have the results of a referendum to leave the Canadian Federation of Students recognized.

The referendum, held last spring, saw students vote 456 to 148 in favour of leaving the organization but the vote, which was conducted without CFS support, has not been recognized by the Federation.

Undergraduates at Concordia and McGill graduate students are also suing the Federation, seeking to have the results of votes to leave the group recognized by the courts.

The two Concordia suits share several similarities, in both cases the CFS refused to allow referendums , in part, on the grounds that the student unions had years worth of unpaid membership fees. According to the GSA’s motion to institute proceedings, the CFS claimed they were owed $200,000. According to the motion, a lawyers letter sent to the GSA six weeks prior made no mention of an outstanding debt, as well, they argue that if the GSA had a debt dating back to 1994,  it would have been claimed before March 2010 and would have been mentioned at a CFS general meeting.

Like the Concordia Student Union’s suit, the GSA attempts to establish a pattern of bad faith by the CFS when it comes to referendums. They also claim that students’ Quebec charter rights were violated and are seeking $100,000 in damages.

The CFS is now facing five lawsuits in Quebec. In addition to the three suits filed by student unions the lobby group is also being sued by its former Quebec branch and that organization’s former landlord.

The only CFS member in Quebec not currently suing the organization is student union at Dawson College, a CEGEP, a referendum was supposed to take place there but it still hasn’t happened.

The GSA and CFS will be in court on May 20.