Surprise! CFS-URSU dispute goes to court

Disagreement over referendum votes should have been solved long before votes were cast

Another day, another court battle between the Canadian Federation of Students and one of its unions.

This time, it’s the University of Regina Students’ Union taking CFS to court, to seek an injunction in the hopes of seeing the results of a referendum to decide whether or not the union will remain with the student lobby group. The ballots for the referendum were cast over a month ago.

Like most CFS disputes that see the inside of a court room, this too seems like a waste of student’s money on legal fees.

Since students went to polls in late October, CFS representatives from the Referendum Oversight Committee have not returned to the university to finish counting the provisional ballots, which had to be verified by the U of R registrar’s office before they could be counted. These ballots have since been approved.

An URSU press release explained that counting is delayed over a dispute between the CFS and the union over the eligibility of ballots cast by First Nations University students, who pay fees to both URSU and the FNUniv Students’ Association. However, each students’ association is its own union local under CFS, with URSU as Local 9 and the FNUniv Students Association as Local 90, meaning FNUuniv will remain a member of the CFS regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

At this point, the ROC knows which way the result of the referendum leans towards, based on the ballots that have been counted, but the results of the provisional ballots are not yet known. According to the union, CFS is delaying the ballot counting process until it is decided whether or not the votes from FNUniv students are eligible.

Shouldn’t this discussion  have happened long before the ballots were even cast? It seems ridiculous that this dispute is happening after FNUniv students have already voted.

URSU’s stance is that the eligibility of FNUniv students was supposed to be left undecided until it was concluded that the votes of FNUniv students would sway the results one way or the other.

CFS claims it did not agree to this arrangement, and has accused the union of disenfranchising FNUniv students. CFS chair David Molenhuis told the Leader Post that the union must acknowledge that all students who cast a vote are “absolutely members of the students’ union and participate in every other way through voting in elections to voting in other referenda.”

URSU, in turn, is accusing CFS of trying to prevent “bad press” over the issue and the potential loss of one of its most active members by delaying the release of the results.

It’s understandable why URSU is getting a bit antsy over seeing the results of their referendum, considering the reputation the CFS has gained for not exactly being the most cooperative organization to work with in these situations. However, this seems like a massive waste of the court’s time and a huge misuse of resources over what seems like a pretty simple disagreement. One that should have been resolved way before the referendum voting even took place.

Then again, is anyone surprised this dispute has escalated to this point? It’s only one in a long line of battles for CFS court watchers to keep tabs on.

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