Release the hounds! -

Release the hounds!


The Canadian Federation of Students will not like this article in the Calgary edition of Metro.

The article describes how graduate students at the University of Calgary are concerned that the CFS will engage in a lawsuit to attempt to keep the U of C grads as members of the national student lobbying organization.

The CFS is all about patterns. Notice two lines that we’ve seen a few times now:

1) “‘They’ve outright ignored our requests for meeting minutes, bylaw information and a broad range of requests and we’ve simply had enough,’ GSA president Rithesh Ram told Metro.”

2) “Numerous calls to the CFS went unanswered.”


Release the hounds!

  1. No way, no how, no CFS!

    I was an undergrad at SFU before coming to Calgary. I’m so glad we’re trying to leave too.

    The CFS is unresponsive to requests and highly defensive. It’s almost like they are the soviets and Bush for that matter. “You’re either with us or you’re against us.”

    If the CFS smartened up and cleaned up their internal management and leadership – students wouldn’t want out. I think its best to destroy the village (the CFS) in order to save the student movement.

    The CFS does not equal student activism. They only think it does.

  2. Joey, didn’t the quote below looked wrong to you?
    ““Their 2007 budget set aside 18 per cent for legal fees, so we’re definitely bracing for the possibility,” said U of C GSA president Rithesh Ram.”

    My CFS general meeting binders from back then are still in Ottawa, but from the top of my head the national CFS budget is around $3 million. 18% would be $540,000 in legal fees, a ridiculously large number, while in reality I remember the Legal line from the last budget I saw (2007-2008) being in the ballpark of $20,000 (under 1%).

    I do remember however than the 2006-2007 budget included the cost of the Travel CUTS settlement (i.e. losing 24% of Travel CUTS) in the “Legal” section, although this is not legal fees per se. This might explain a value in the hundred thousands for that year only, but going from this to make the statement in the Metro is really misrepresentative.

  3. He is referring to the 2006/2007 budget which included some travel cuts costs, but this was also the year of the Douglas College loan and the year that the CFS went on a threatening spree against student newspapers.

    I was more interested in the fact that the two parts I pulled out represent a fairly common pattern across the country.

  4. It’s too bad Rithesh Ram isn’t a very honest man, and is quite self-motivated, probably getting some sort of kick for “taking on the man.” If Ram and the U of C grads wanted to see “bang for their buck,” then maybe their leadership should actually take part in AGMs, NGC meetings, elect a provincial rep, and implement the campaigns and services at the local level. Sometimes, students at the local level actually have to do work for themselves, ya know…

    My guess is that this is another case of a student association’s leadership severely misrepresenting its members under the guise of “the CFS doesn’t do anything for us.”

  5. You know Jim, I try to be fair to the CFS, and I try to go issue by issue. But the whole “you are the CFS, so implement our campaigns on your campus and you’ll see how much we do for you” rhetoric has always annoyed me. It’s utterly irresponsible (in the most literal way – as in not taking responsibility) to say that all objections to what the CFS does for its members are a result of the members not doing enough for the CFS.

    It’s a perfectly coherent position to take that the CFS doesn’t add value (or doesn’t add sufficient value) to a member local to be worth their while. I’m not saying that’s always or necessarily true, but it’s at least possible and a very legitimate point to make. The fact that a particularly students’ union may not be implementing (may not even be interested in) the CFS campaigns of the day doesn’t mean they aren’t doing anything.

    This whole “you are the CFS so you have no one to blame but yourself if you don’t like the CFS” party line has got to go. If the CFS is going to be a relevant and effective national organization it has got to take some responsibility for the value that it does or doesn’t add to its members. When locals ask why they should remain members of the CFS, it’s simply disrespectful to imply they need to create their own justification and are neglectful if they do not.

  6. Jeff, can you imagine the outrage that would occur if the National Chair opened up the November meeting by saying that the Federation needs to, and will, start involving itself more directly in the goings on of member locals? I think the internet would explode.

  7. This is why I don’t get into the CFS debate. I’ve had this point-counterpoint debate so many times that I swear, CFS proponents must be issued cards with talking points.

    Let me be clear on this one last time. There is a whole range of difference between the CFS involving itself directly in the running of member locals (and I’ll take it on faith for a moment that they don’t – which isn’t consistently true) and simply answering a direct question about how much value the CFS organization adds that is over and above what the local union does anyway, without being a member. If the only answer is “the CFS does for you exactly as much as you do for yourself” then the organization obviously has no reason to exist.

  8. Chris,

    You get that there is a pattern here. For the first pattern, the lack of communication with dissent locals, you seem to believe there is a conspiracy against the CFS.

    Let’s look at the second pattern, “Numerous calls to the CFS went unanswered.” What is the CFS talking point for this one? Why doesn’t the CFS respond to media enquiries when the questions may be uncomfortable for them?

    Let me guess, there is a giant right wing media conspiracy against the progressive CFS?

  9. Joey: I get this was not your main point, but I still can’t believe that the website you link would just type down the ridiculous claim that CFS spends 18% of its budget on legal fees and not to a fact check. It’s not a conspiracy, just really amateur.


    Jeff: While CFS is distinct from other national/provincial students’ associations in that a members’ referendum is necessary to federate/defederate, outside of that one element it has nonetheless adopted a federated model, where the “CFS” (by this I assume you mean the national executive) is accountable to the local unions (mostly, the local unions’ executives), who are in turn accountable to individual students.

    Of course that’s not as ideal as direct democracy but realistically the latter is not going to happen anywhere anytime soon (in student politics or just politics at large).

    Considering thus that accountability happens in “two steps” , I think the question of responsibility comes down do this: Do the actions of the CFS executive represent well the will of the majority of local SU delegates at CFS general meetings? Then, do these SU delegates represent well the will of the majority of their local SU’s members?

    If the response to the first question was “no”, then I would agree with you that “the CFS” (i.e. the CFS executive) needs to be more responsible. However I would say with good certainty that most of what is blamed on “the CFS” can in fact be traced to the second question (how representative the delegates are). And if it’s indeed the case, that some delegates might not represent well the interests of their members, then this problem ultimately needs to be solved at the local level, not the CFS level.

  10. The Executive at the UofC GSA – to say nothing of their hastily-installed lackeys whom have taken the place of functional, ethical and moral staff members with organizational history that spans beyond eleven months – is completely corrupt. They’re running an absolute scam – this campaign is entirely personal, poorly researched, badly organized and entirely unethical.

    Graduate students at the UofC are being provided with misinformation and slander and being encouraged to make a hasty choice that will impact them throughout their entire educational career. The UofC GSA hasn’t had an Executive board with ethics or morals since May 2007, and cracks in the foundation are beginning to show.

    Don’t drink the Kool-Aid – do your own research – and stand up to this cult of automatons and ethical and moral bankruptcy. Don’t vote to de-federate – and hold the Executive accountable for their reprehensible actions and policies to date.

  11. I have an urgent message for “A former Local 21 staff member”:

    Do you know that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome affects numerous Canadians each year? Symptoms include: depression, weight gain, general malaise, moodiness and a lack of sex drive.

    If you or someone you know is suffering from CFS, seek help immediately via a referendum.