Should students pay the legal fees of Tamil protester?

Student unions give money to fund legal defense of UTSU executive director. Should they?


 

This is the question being raised as Toronto area students’ union consider a request from the president of the University of Toronto Students’ Union to assist in covering the legal costs of Angela Regnier, who participated in the blockade of a major Toronto highway on Mother’s Day.

Regnier was protesting the Sri Lankan government’s offensives against the Tamil Tigers, which resulted in civilians being caught in the middle. On May 10, Tamil protesters marched onto Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway and shut down this vital artery of the city’s transit grid. The protesters placed women and children in front of themselves in order to prevent police from ending their blockade.

Three people were charged with mischief and “interference with property” including Angela Regnier. Regnier works as Executive Director of the University of Toronto Students’ Union, a position she took soon after ending her terms as National Deputy Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students.

The University of Toronto – Mississauga student newspaper The Medium reports UTSU president Sandy Hudson has requested other student unions to assist Regnier in covering her legal costs stemming from her decision to participate in the blockade.

UTSU president Hudson claims the donations are to “support the constitutional rights of individuals to demonstrate peacefully and participate in civil disobedience.”

The University of Toronto – Mississauga Students Union voted to give $1,000 to Regnier’s legal costs.

The question I ask, should students be funding the legal defense of Regnier in this case?

It depends if she was at the blockade officially representing the University of Toronto Students’ Union engaged in an act of “civil disobedience” authorized by the students of the University of Toronto. If she was there as Executive Director of UTSU, the answer is yes; the students of the University of Toronto should be footing the bill. If Regnier was there as a private citizen, I do not see it has the responsibility of students to pay her fees.

What do you think?


 

Should students pay the legal fees of Tamil protester?

  1. Oh boy, that’s going to open a giant can of worms… I would say yes if she was representing the UofTSU But why would a student union be involved in the Tamil Tigers protest in the first place?

    But the Tamil protest is one thing – what if the executive director was a pro-life protester, then would he/she still get support?

  2. If she was there as a private citizen, she should be fired by UTSU for her outrageous behaviour. If she was there as a representative for UTSU, they should be forced to refund their levy to the students of the University of Toronto.

    Students do not support the radical politics of the CFS!

  3. York University had a similar instance recently. The President of the York Federation of Students, Krisna Saravanamuttu, was sanctioned for leading a mob that cornered several Jewish students in the Hillel lounge while yelling racist remarks. He appealed to several student groups (who are funded by student money) to pay his fine.

    The simple answer is this: If these CFS lackeys are not capable of respecting the rule of law, they should accept the consequences of their actions, and not pass the responsibility onto the same students that they consistently fail to properly represent.

  4. I think Dan brings up a good point: why would a student union be involved in a protest in the first place?

    It is the mandate of the student unions to represent the student body, which is made up of students of myriad backgrounds. If the UTSU decides to pay Ms. Regnier’s legal fees, then they should pay for the legal fees of other union members involved in other groups’ legal battles. That would, as Dan out it, open up a whole can of worms. It would indeed be interesting to see whether the union would support less popular groups, like the pro-life movement.

  5. You answer your own question just a bit earlier in the piece: “UTSU president Sandy Hudson has requested other student unions to assist Regnier in covering *her* legal costs stemming from *her* decision to participate in the blockade.” (emphasis on the “her” is mine)

    She is presumably an adult and was fully aware of the potential consequences of participating in a clearly illegal (and somewhat dangerous) act of blocking a public highway. The decision was hers. The responsibilities are hers.

  6. Not in a million years! As Dan said, if it were a Pro-Life rally (which a larger portion of the student body would support) she would have been left out in the cold. Any body supporting a terrorist organization does not deserve any support from the general population. You do stupid things, then you pay the consequences.

  7. Strike by City of Toronto frontline workers is illegal too.
    Are we going to arrest them or send them back where they originally came from.

    MaCleans columns do not have anything to fill in.
    Tamil humanitarian disaster is a shame to the civilized world.
    Now, you would write about who pays for Bob Rae’s visit etc. dictated by some hired goons or paid agents of Sri Lankan regime.

  8. I don’t think they should pay if she wasn’t there representing the student’s union.

    However, I would like to point out to anyone equating the protests with support of the Tamil Tigers is incorrect. These protests were meant to call attention to the Tamil civilians caught in the fight. It was not meant to support the Tigers or any terrorist organization. Joey notes this in the first sentence of the second paragraph.

  9. @Art of Thought

    You are correct that I do not equate the protests with supporting the Tamil Tigers. However, I believe a reasonable person is capable of making such a connection due to the use of a flag associated with the Tamil Tigers.

  10. I think human rights and the protection of such rights should be upheld. Therefore, anyone who demonstrated for the protection of such rights should be supported at all costs.

  11. It doesn’t surprise me that this bunch is spending students’ money funding the legal defense of one of their own. It’s yet another symptom of the disease of self-righteousness that inflicts Regnier and her ilk.

  12. It’s unfortunate that Canadians, and particularly students, who are meant to be among the educated class running our nation in the future, fail to critically analyze anything presented to them. For anyone following the series of Tamil protests that took place in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton and other parts of the country, it is clear that the Gardiner was the effect of months of sheer ignorance and an unwillingness of the Canadian public to listen to the legitimate concern of Tamil protestors for the safety and security of immediate family members trapped in a war zone. Everyone wants to use this one instance to point a finger and say “if you don’t follow our rules, why should we listen to you?” NEWSFLASH! Tamils are citizens of this country too! And more often than not, they are very well-educated, law abiding productive members of our society who have run numerous campaigns as a community to give back to the country that protected them when their own government treated them (and continues to treat them) as no more than cattle for the slaughter.(If you don’t believe me, check out blood services Canada and see which community is at the top of the list for blood donations, and it doesn’t stop there folks) WAKE UP Canada! The ignorance has to stop with our generation! How can you use one act of civil disobediance to justify allowing a genocide to happen? Read up on it and you’ll understand! But I urge you, think critically before reacting emotionally. There’s no sense in falling mindlessly into this global war on Terror and alienating your neighbours without understanding the truth! I’m a proud Canadian, but it’s ignorance like this that makes me wonder how proud the next generation of Canadians will be.

    I’m glad to see people like Angela Regnier take an active role in shaping our nation and I’m proud to support her.

  13. Regnier was at the protest as an individual standing up for human rights. As humans, we all have the responsiblity to voice human right violations whenever and wherever they occur. Thus, the student union should support Regnier with the the costs related to this case.

  14. 20,000 people have been killed by the sri lankan government forces over 72 hours according to Channel 4 news UK.
    But look at us talking about unrelated issues rather than encouraging a student who stood against an injustice to humanity. We’ve all watched such an event take place right before our eyes. But this student at least tried to bring attention. If we were to listen to their cries we would’ve prevented 20,000 people from being killed.
    Shame on people who talk about other things while humanity is being destroyed in Sri Lanka.

  15. I believe that if she was representing the students union that they should cover it.

    As for those of you who question what place it is for a student representative to be at a human rights violation protest, I answer you with this.

    It is a fact, that our universities especially in Canada are becoming more diverse, particularly in the Ontario area. People from around the world come to study at our universities, their families still back home. A students unions job, is to represent ALL students, in every facet. It doesn’t matter where the human rights violation occurs, when it does, it must be met with peaceful protest and support from all walks of life and cultures. Just because a student is here in Canada does not mean they do not suffer when they hear their sister has gone “missing,” their mother has been tortured, and their brother taken hostage.

    How does this affect everyday students? These are the people that you study with, these are the people that you work with; that are your friends, that stand side by side with you on issues that matter most to you.

    If your best friend came up to you and said my father has disappeared and I fear he is dead. You would support your best friend in their time of need.

    These students are in their time of need and it is our duty to support them. Ignorance, has never achieved anything positive, it is merely the cowards way out.

  16. I think human rights and the protection of such rights should be upheld. Therefore, anyone who demonstrated for the protection of such rights should be supported at all costs

  17. Pingback: Students’ money to pay for radical protesters legal fees | Always Right

  18. It is clear that Regnier was one of the few courageous enough to stand up and support a clear human catastrophy. It is pathetic that others people feel the need to critisize her actions. As a representative of the student body, she took the chivalrous route of protesting aggressives for a worthy cause, rather than take a passive stance, to remain within “the good books” of everyone.

    In a society where the good are helpless and the bad are useless, members of organizations like Reigner deserve the support of the entire student body. We praise you for your solitude, and sincerely appreciate your support. We will never forget your contributions.

  19. I think it is absolutely vital that she be supported, considering the cause she was standing up for. The very nature of the student union and their continued validity requires that these types of actions, which are in support of human rights and the rights of students everywhere, must be taken and practiced. The students union must be able to speak truth to power and supporting someone who has faced legal troubles and adversity for doing so is essential.

  20. yes; the students of the University of Toronto should be footing the bill. Human rights are important rights worth defending.

  21. I think we should be proud of the fact that an executive director of the University of Toronto Students’ Union demonstrated against a massacre of what is now around a 50, 000 Tamil civilians (many of whom were little children) and I believe that University of Toronto students and thus the University of Toronto Students’ Union would certainly voice out against this kind outrageous and genocidal massacres in the 21st century.

  22. Two concerns.

    I am really concerned by this racialization of the protests and protesters. First of all the title of this article is incredibly inaccurate. Angela Regnier is not Tamil, but rather a student, one of many other students at that protest. I understand opening up a can of worms is necessary to bait the fish, but lets maintain accuracy. Angela Regnier is a student protester who has received financial support from her Student Union.

    Secondly the Student Union VOTED to support Angela Regnier financially, therefore voting to support the actions of Angela Regnier and many other student activists who actively participate in the democratic process of our nation, which includes peaceful demonstrations and mass organizing. You may consider that ‘radical politics’ but Universal Health Care and Green Politics were once considered a radical political idea. And thankfully student activists are at the very forefront of the democratic process making reality such ‘radical’ ideas.

    Student Unions support and give funding to many organizations and clubs on campuses that organize protests and counter-protests. This can be disruptive but is an essential part of democratic dialogue.
    For example CFS gives the same funding for Israeli as well as Palestinian clubs at York. The Pro-life and Pro-Choice clubs get the very same funding as well (and when this was threatened many groups came out in support of the threatened groups). Would you decide to limit funding and support one side or the other knowing that is going to fundamentally disrupt Canada’s democratic discourse?

    One last point, at many protests and mass organizations arrest is often used to intimidate and financially cripple activist who organize mass agitations; this students recognize and that is why as a student I support Angela Regnier, even in tough economic times. Democracy is priceless.

  23. @StudentActivist: Just a correction (pretty sure it was a typo, but still), the Canadian Federation of Students doesn’t fund clubs at any university. I think you meant the YFS (York Federation of Students).

  24. Yes, students should be funding the legal defense of Regnier in this case.

    The Tamil humanitiarian disaster is an affront to every human being and it is regretful that our governement did not raise its voice early enough to stop these serious human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Angela Regnier by her action in support of the Tamil community represents the noble Canadian values that we cherish.

  25. The significance of this incident, is primarily the fact that Angela Regnier is not Tamil. It shows that her interest in this event could not really have been for her own interest or anything, but rather because she truly believed in this cause. I think as non-Tamil Canadian citizens, that’s something we should consider. It shows that she felt strong enough about this protest, that she felt that she should join the Tamil Canadians in their fight against the genocide. Moreover, I do not believe that she was there as a private citizen. This is because she represents the views of MANY students, not only from University of Toronto, but also from many other universities, colleges, and other educational schools. I think that her strength and courage to stand up for what she believes in, should be applauded.

  26. I hardly see how footing the legal bill for an individual who made the choice to partake in civil disobedience helps the people in Sri Lanka get food, shelter and clothing. If the council really wanted to help the situation they could have donated to agencies helping people after this tragic event.

    If you are going to partake in civil disobedience you should be prepared to accept the consequences.

  27. I think any issues to do with human rights and the protection of such rights anywhere in the world is very essential, therefore, anyone who demonstrated for the protection of such rights should be supported at all costs.

  28. What is the money going towards? Fines or legal help?

    She probably qualifies for free legal help from UofT’s Downtown Legal Services. Even non-students can get advice and representation there. I’d much rather not see her take money away from UTSU, which is having enough trouble with money as it is.

    I do not support an executive vote within UTSU to pay her. Let it go to referendum if it happens at all. I know how I’d vote.

  29. I think its a yes. The student union should be involved in the protests that the tamil community is conducting. It is not about the tamil tigers for those of you who think that. It is about the genocide happening back in their home country. It should be stopped. I’m terribly sorry if you guys would like to just say horrible things and not support it because of your lack of information.

  30. The University of Toronto Students’ Union has become one of many milestones in the path to freedom for the Tamil people suffering in Sri Lanka. It has now become very visible that the Tamils are fighting for equal right and their citizenship rights. Angela Regnier was representing the University of Toronto Students’ Union and the student body. She was there as a witness in the case of any incident and to help maintain the peace. I am a member of the University of Toronto Students’ Union and I am proud to help her and the Students ’ Union continue to speak out about this and other injustice in the world. I am glad to have Angela Regnier represent me and the Students’ Union.

  31. To Micheal M:

    The Gardiner Expressway protest occurred because 2000 Tamil civilians had been massacred by the SriLankan state (it was called the mother’s day massacre) and the SriLankan state was blocking NGOs and the UN from entering the zone and assisting civilians.

    More importantly the proverb, give a man a fish or teach a man to fish, does apply here. Send money to alleviate a man mad humanitarian crisis or to directly diffuse the humanitarian crisis itself. It should be noted that the SriLankan state still holds 300000 Tamil civilians hostage in internment camps in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe.

    P.S. – I had previously meant YFS, not CFS, apologies on the typo and any subsequent confusion.

  32. @StudentActivist

    You mentioned that it is the right of every Canadian to “peaceful demonstration and mass organizing”. While this is true, I think calling the protest in question simply a “peaceful demonstration” is a misrepresentation. The protest was peaceful, but it was also unlawful. I wonder what kind of discussion we’d be having if someone got into a car accident because of this. They blocked a busy artery and, to a certain degree, endangered the public.

    I think we can all agree that the situation in Sri Lanka is one that demands more international attention. A political solution is needed to address the injustices perpetrated against the Tamil population; there must be an effective devolution of power that goes beyond the rhetoric of Amendment 13. An act of civil disobedience was certainly effective in drawing public attention to these things (although it may have just alienated angry drivers!) but I think Michael hit the nail on the head:

    “If you are going to partake in civil disobedience you should be prepared to accept the consequences.”

    If you decide to block a main thoroughfare in a busy city for your cause, you should be prepared to face the consequences for your actions. Authorities should not have to make special allowances for those who decide to break laws to promote their cause. If everyone with a cause –and there are more causes than roads to block– decided to block Gardiner, driving through Toronto would be an even more maddening experience than it already is!

  33. We live in a world that has faced numerous battles for rights and freedom. Angela Regnier should be applauded for taking a stand. The Tamil community has lost many loved ones and Ms.Regnier’s actions not only showed her support, but it sent out a loud clear message to others that this isn’t just the Tamil’s battle. It’s a battle of rights in which every human being has a responsibility of upholding. Sometimes civil disobedience is necessary.

    So is it okay for a student union to be funding her legal fees? Of course. We’re talking about a young woman who stood up against human right violations. Now that, is admirable. If everyone were to sit quickly and watch injustice happen, then our world would be far worse off than it is today.

  34. Thusha, I’m not sure whether your comment is shortsighted or arrogant. Why take money away from UTSU (which provides a food bank, subsidized daycare, etc) when the Univeristy of Toronto provides their Downtown Legal Services for free? Why can you say “Of course”? Are you a UofT student? If not, why are you so eager to misallocate my money?

  35. There seems to be this common misconception that the protest was supporting a terrorist organization. To my knowledge the protesters were protesting the human rights violations by the Sri Lankan Government to the Tamil civilians. Which in my personal opinion, after researching, it is a genocide against the Tamil People. Just one fact I will give you all, and I want most to research this them selves. Take a look at the population of the Tamil people when Sri Lanka gained independence, and look at it now. Actually lets just go back a couple years, where the Sri Lankan government claimed that their were 3 million Tamils living in Sri Lanka. Now that the war is over there is about 1.8 million living in Sri Lanka. Across the world, you have 1 million Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. Scary figures, and how many Sinhalese refugees? These numbers a staggering.

    The takeover of the Gardiner was not to protest Sri Lankan government’s offensives against the Tamil Tigers, it was to shed light on the very real problem in Sri Lanka, and the very real fact that innocent civilians are being massacred in the process. If I’m not mistaken the CFS nation wide has passed a motion in support of the Tamil People, and their right to education. So I don’t see the problem in helping out a fellow student for only acting on what the students want. The Students on councils across the nation have been elected by the STUDENTS, and most have won by land slide victories. When a person is elected into power, the students give them to right to act in the best interest of the students. And frankly the student unions have the mental capability, and the right to decide such things because of the power the students, including me give them. Many argue that world politics should not be brought into the school, but keep in mind you have the world studying at every university. Students of different ethnicities and races strive to better their education and knowledge. Most people are not here because they chose to be here, but because they are forced and have no where else to go. The student union has a right to recognize that and take a stance to help these students.

    I completely support the student unions decision, And frankly ask the people commenting to refrain from spreading thoughts they know nothing about.

  36. @StudentActivist

    And what does this man eat well he is learning to fish? The crisis is not going to solve itself instantly, it will take time. What are the people who are with out food, shelter and water supposed to do well they wait to be returned to their homes?

    Once again, I fail to see how helping a person who made the choice to endanger her life and break the law helps those who were caught in this conflict meet their basic needs. It has already been pointed out that she has free resources available to her. The thousand dollars could have been spent in a much better and more meaningful way.

  37. @Sahab, Regnier is not a student but full time staff. The donation falls outside of the student union mandate, students who voted did not authorize this. If the school legal aid services were available and not utilized this is wasteful. It isn’t even consistent with their stance on the UofT 14 students charged for their unlawful protest in the president’s office which only got a letter of support.

    Given that the UTSU president Sandy Hudson won with 2413 votes of approximately 70,000 students (53% versus 47%), I hardly consider that a strong indicator of support. I don’t have the numbers for UTMSU, but Hudson is the loudest voice supporting this donation and I imagine UTSU is included in the GTA student unions she’s pleading for donations from.

    Regnier’s legal fund should come from her supporters in the human rights groups (perhaps with some pro bono work from UofT), not from UTSU.

  38. Firstly, I would just like to correct StudentActivist on a point. Miss Regnier is not a student. She holds the position of Executive Director on UTSU. Not sure how relevant that is, but I just wanted to throw that out there…

    Now, there is a lot of talk on supporting or not supporting the cause that Miss Regnier was representing. I think we are all unified on one point. The Tamil genocide is wrong and it is our duty as human citizens to put a stop to it. That being said, there are many ways to show one’s support. My stance on demonstrations of this sort is quite neutral; I am neither for or against them. Nevertheless, Miss Regnier did get herself arrested. So regardless of her noble intentions, she did break the law. I don’t think the police are that stupid to randomly arrest four people (including Miss Regnier and 2 Tamils) for merely standing at a demonstration.

    In addition, Miss Regnier was at the protest out of her own accord. This was in no way affiliated with either UTSU or UTMSU. Because of this, she was responsible for her own actions and should therefore face the consequences of these actions.

    Now there seems to be some sort of misunderstanding here. Yes, the motion at UTMSU passed, but there was a lot of opposition. In the end, it went into a secret ballot. I was present at the meeting, and as a board member, I had a vote as well, for which I voted against the motion.

    Don’t get me wrong though. I know Miss Regnier personally and she is a great person, and I am all for the cause she was representing. I merely feel that it is unfair to just throw the burden of her legal fees on our students, who we have been elected to represent. We must therefore be frugal in our spending which we most certainly have not done in this case.

  39. Regnier is not even a student—she’s full time staff at the student union. And the protesters, since they used Tamil Tigers flags, were clearly supporting this organization, which has been recognized as a terrorist organization.

    Even if they weren’t a terrorist movement, what exactly did Regnier hope to accomplish, other than upsetting people and disturbing the city? Some posters (many of which sound like the same person) claim she’s a brave person. I don’t think blocking a highways constitutes a sign of courage. Certainly using the students’ pockets is not a brave thing.

  40. This is unacceptable!

    When will this end? Student unions bailing out their friends in hopes of furthering their own political agendas. It’s quite interesting to see some of the **** these folks pull. I can’t wait until I am no longer an undergrad and my fees are not used to pay legal fees for radical protesters. It’s fine if you want to protest, even if you protest illegally- do what you want with your own time! DO NOT USE STUDENTS MONEY to deal with the aftermath.

  41. @Lance

    I am a Canadian tamil, and I was present at the protests. The point you are making is understandable. It is not the responsiblity or duty of the Student union to pay for Regnier’s legal fees.

    However, it was the wish of a group of people in the UTSU to donate money towards Regnier, and show their support; this was their own free choice, and I applaud them for this effort

    It doesn’t matter what the numbers are; in my view, the opinion of the UTSU population was found in a democratic way, and it was the decision of the majority of the population to allocate some money towards this cause.

    IT is not right for you to claim where the money for Regnier’s fees should come from; that decision belongs to each organization, and should be determined accordingly.

    There are many benefits and drawbacks by living in a democratic society. Even though its based on the principle of equal representation, it comes at the price of individualism.

    @ Alex

    Please go and get your facts straight. They were not Tamil Tiger flags, they are the flag representing the people of tamil Eelam. the RCMP and CSIS has recognized this difference many years ago, you should clue in soon. if you have a hard time find this evidence, please wikipedia it.
    The issue isn’t about being brave, its about raising awareness, and by reading the responses of this thread, it seems to be working.

    Some people here have valid concerns about the allocation of UTSU’s money. But to those of you who still do not understand the underlying cause of this protest, please go ask someone who can explain it to you.

    thank you

  42. Please check this report and realize what could been happened in the past few months and imagine what will the Tamil people are going through in the concentration camps now where there no one to ask or say a word against whatever they do to them.
    [http://blog.amnestyusa.org/asia/beaches-palm-trees-displacement-%e2%80%93-welcome-to-sri-lankas-war-zone/]
    Please do a research about what happened to Tamils after 1948.
    It will answer all of your Questions.
    Thanks,

  43. she has to be supported even if she was there a private citizen.
    she was there for good cause.

    The Tamil community may support the support the Tamil tigers but these protest were for the people who were suffering in sri lanka.

    THE FLAG THEY’RE HOLDING UP ITS THEIR IDENTITY. ITS THEIR IDENTITY OF THEIR NATION TAMIL EELAM (i guess i spelled it right).
    THAT IS NOT THE FLAG OF THE TIGER REBELS.

    the Tamil community has lost 20 000 people in just 72 hours.
    i personally feel ashamed for not supporting them at the protests.

    they deserve TAMIL EELAM..

  44. I haven’t weighed in yet, and I suspect I’ll regret it, but Edward’s post has prompted me to say what I have to say, because he’s nailed the issue. Kudos, btw, Edward.

    The real question is not the worthiness of the Tamil cause, or the raging debate over the distinction between the Tamil Tigers and tamil Eelam. The real question is whether or not students’ unions should be pan-national organizations with their voices and their chequebooks at the disposal of every conceivable issue – from Tibet to Iran to Sri Lanka. I believe they should not be. I believe it hinders the student movement and is disrespectful to members of the
    unions themselves – remembering that membership is involuntary, after all.

    Every year some student leaders succumb to the temptation to use their control over their union for some cause or other. The worthiness of the cause in question is rarely in doubt. But especially when it involves financial support, the legitimacy of that decision is highly doubtful. Students did not come to U of T (the school in question, this time) with the idea that they would be taxed by their students’ union in order to support whichever social cause the union leadership happens to endorse.

    I was a union executive when the Tsunami hit in 2004. Students with connections to Thailand and other affected areas were very understandably galvanized by this event. I recall both the union and the university supported fund-raising efforts to help the cause. But I don’t believe we actually contributed funds from the union itself. And if we didn’t do that, I can’t see how the legal defence of a Tamil protester is more worthy.

    If union execs want the purview to allocate their members’ money to the social cause of the day they should hold a special referendum to institute a levy for that reason alone. Many small levies like this exist. At UTSC every student pays 25 cents a term (or similar) to support Frontier College and Students for Literacy. They voted to do exactly that – so fair game. If students want to pay 25 cents to a free-standing social fund to be allocated to international political or social causes then so be it. Pitch that idea to them. But short of that measure, I do not believe that student union leaders are elected to take on whatever social cause grabs international headlines – or to allocate the fees levied on their members to do so.

  45. If bob rae was respect how he was going to sri lanka as politcal say imagine how tamils are going through in the concentration camps now that there’s no one to ask or say a word against whatever they do to the tamils.

  46. What Jeff means by “pan-national” is issues that people of colour care about. Why is it that when white people are affected by issues, these are considered “student union issues” that everyone should fund, but when people of colour are affected, these are considered “special interests”?

    This is racist.

    Anyone who was arrested for doing their job would expect their employer to pay their legal fees. I know Jeff has very little experience in the real world of employment, but that’s the reality.

  47. @Sam

    Really, Jeff Rybak racist?

    I’m not going to counter your accusation because any reasonable person is well aware that Rybak is not racist.

    Rybak was saying the issue is not race or the worthiness of the Tamil cause.

    You ask a provocative question: “Why is it that when white people are affected by issues, these are considered “student union issues” that everyone should fund, but when people of colour are affected, these are considered “special interests”?”

    Would you care to elaborate; what issues do you refer to?

    I ask you to elaborate to better understand what you exactly mean. What are the “white people” issues you refer to?

    I suspect you are referring to issues that affect every student regardless of race, which is not racism; it is actually far from it.

    Since you’ve pulled out the race card, can you please provide me with examples of this racism.

  48. Regnier was clearly protesting as a private citizen on a SUNDAY!

    It is NOT the responsibility of students to pay for this.

    I believe student union execs who are contributing should be impeached.

  49. Well let’s see. Jeff Rybak says that the use of student union funds to defend someone arrested at a demonstration IN TORONTO turns the organization “pan-national”.

    Huh?

    Unless Rybak can explain how the demonstration took place in a different nation than the University of Toronto, the only rationale for describing it this way is because the demonstration included mostly people of colour (not “real” Canadians, I guess).

    Jeff can explain what he meant by his choice of wording, but it sounds to me like racism.

  50. While I cannot speak for Rybak, I can definitely say you pull out the race card like it’s a bus pass.

    “Pan-national” can mean any of a wide range of causes.

    The statement by Rybak “I do not believe that student union leaders are elected to take on whatever social cause grabs international headlines” shows he is thinking of many causes including, in all likelyhood, labour causes, peace movements, international socialism, and the like.

    You may want to put the race card back into your pocket and save it for an actual case of racism.

    Feel free to discuss the issue here which is “should student unions be funding the legal defense of the UTSU Executive Director.”

  51. Joey, thank you for letting me know when it’s an appropriate time to label racism. I’m always waiting for a white person to provide me with those guidelines.

    I think it’s perfectly on topic to discuss how racism is informing people’s opinions on this matter. The fact that someone is arguing against this allocation of funds by invoking the word “pan-national” shows that race is at play in this discussion.

  52. Firstly…

    @Sam

    There is no need for feeling that Jeff was being racist here. at a time like this, especially with people fearing the economic recession, people are very careful about where their money is being spent. Jeff’s post did not hit me with a racist tone at all, and I would responded if I felt there was one.

    In my view, I think he meant…that he didn’t support the idea of the student union (one group comprised of students from many different cultural backgrounds), raising money to try and resolve every issue that arises in the world…

    It would be more appropriate to use the word “racism” when we see ignorant people look at our protest, and start posting nonsense about “terrorists in Toronto”:, and make other similar ignorant comments…

    @ Jeff and Erin

    I am a 3rd year student at the University of Waterloo, and also carefully watch how my union spends the 250 dollars I pay every term to my student unions/federations. However…

    If the student union did not have the funds, would they have really cut funding for one of their more vital programs to allocate this money for this cause? I doubt they have really put the need for assisting Regnier above their duty to look out for the student population that they represent…

    On a larger scale, at the federal level, governments democratically decide whether to assist a developing/war-torn/recovering country; how to assist them, and how much they are able to assist. They don’t collect extra money from Canadian citizens for this effort, but they re-allocate money and send money for these causes.

    This is not done because of a responsiblity, duty, etc., but the decision is made based on the moral values of the politicians, and hopefully, also in the values of the people they have been elected to represent. However, they do not cut funding for necessary programs to do this effort; the population often gets worked up because they do not know where the money is coming from, and start reacting as if they are about to pay increased taxes, etc. for the government’s decision. It is not as simple as that… and I’m sure this is the same case that can be seen in the union’s decision.

  53. Sam, you know nothing about me. Among other things, I spent last summer working for a legal aid labour law clinic, which informed an extremely well-received blog on this very site. And then you turn around and suggest I know nothing the world of employment.

    I genuinely won’t dignify your accusations with a direct reply. You don’t deserve one. If you wanted to engage me (or anyone) on the subject of racism you are welcome to do so. If and when you begin that dialogue civilly, I may reply. But to begin any dialogue with “what you are really saying is X” is frankly offensive. I know how to express myself. I know how to say what I intend to say, when when I intend to say something I’ll say it.

    Your approach to this subject matter is aggressive, incendiary, and counter-productive. It violates the very first rule of dialogue that you would learn in any anti-oppression workshop (should you bother to attend one) where you would learn to speak for yourself rather than other people.

    In my comments I wrote about what I believe. I did not presume to ascribe motives to other people, or to tell anyone else what they were “really” saying or thinking. Until you learn to do the same, I don’t believe I have a lot to learn from you.

  54. Sam,
    Why are you trying to disguise the issue at hand, like Joey mentioned—Should student unions be funding the legal defense of the UTSU Executive Director?

    Take away all other factors…anything Jeff mentioned and that is the main issue.

    Student Unions thinking they have the right to give student dollars to someone who gets arrested for illegally protesting.

    disgusting!

    Go ahead, call me racist too. Whatever helps you shift attention away from the real issue at hand.

    By the way I’m a person of colour and I still think this is outrageous.

    Why don’t these “student leaders” donate from their own pockets? They sure make enough money. UTSU execs make nearly $30,000.00. Surely they can afford to make a donation without taking it from students.

    The UTM student union recently raised their own salaries to $20,000.00 (just like real politicians!) It angers me that they took money from students when they make so much already.

    It was clearly their personal relationships with Regnier that motivated this donation. I read that the President of UTMSU said the executive director of UTSU was targeted.

    RIGHT…. OUT OF ALL THOSE PEOPLE their good friend happened to be targeted. Bad excuse. Try again!

  55. Jeff, I didn’t post here to “engage” with you on the subject of racism. I posted here to highlight the way in which racism has informed your opinion on this matter.

    Perhaps you think that your attendance at an anti-oppression workshop has certified you as a non-racist white person, but most people realize that our society is racist and people often replicate racism without realizing it.

    So please don’t react defensively when I point out how your comments are problematic.

    Until you clarify what you meant by saying that legal defense offered to a person arrested IN TORONTO is making the student union “pan-national”, I stand by my assertion that the comment is racist.

  56. Sam,

    your tactics to distract readers from the issue at hand are pathetic.

    If you want to post about the issue at hand go ahead but please stop attacking Jeff. He made valid points. Obviously it got under your skin. Grow up!

  57. @Sam. Oh, I get it now. My mistake was posting as myself, with a photo, which allows you to identify my race, gender, etc. and then make accusations stemming from them. Obviously you find your anonymity comforting, which spares you from the possibility that you will be attacked on the basis of your race, gender, etc.

    Allow me to repeat myself. You are in no position to demand justification from me. In fact, you seem alone in the offence you’ve taken, and were even called out by the very person I was replying to when I posted.

    Merely making inflammatory accusations does not entitle you to the moral highground. If someone wishes to ask, in some civil fashion, for clarification from me I may offer it. But truly, you said it all, when you specified that you don’t want to engage. Those who care about ignorance in this world do want to engage. You simply want to accuse. So if it’s any wonder why I can’t be bothered responding – there you go. People who simply want to accuse can never be adequately placated.

  58. Jeff, I’d be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt if you would just answer Sam’s question.

    This wasn’t a donation given to the Tamil cause, the Tamil Tigers, or any group campaigning on an international issue. This was a donation given to legal defence for someone arrested at a demonstration in Toronto. Why did you describe that as making the student union “pan-national”?

  59. Hey, a civil request! Thanks for asking, Fernanda. In fact, I have the bulk of my answer prepared for you, in a very concise 1,800 words or so. I wrote a blog about it last night for this very site:

    http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2009/07/02/the-limits-of-an-elected-students-mandate/

    I believe student unions frequently exceed their mandates on all kinds of issues, both international and more local. I believe it’s a real problem. Describing why student unions shouldn’t try to correct every social ill in the world took quite a few words (as you’ll see) and so the best way I could illustrate why unions aren’t positioned to do that effectively or appropriately (and esp. without damaging what they -can- do best) was to describe that at pan-national. It was a word chosen for a quick comment. It isn’t vital to my point, and in my blog article I managed to make due without it.

    The fact remains that every justification for funding Ms. Regnier’s legal costs comes down, in large part, to the rationale that what’s going on in Sri Lanka (or the Tamil homeland, if you prefer) is very important and therefore the protests themselves are very important and therefore what Ms. Regnier was doing is very important. No one is seriously trying to claim she was acting on union business. And as many have pointed out, student leaders can and have gotten in legal trouble before – up to and including those recently dragged out of Simcoe Hall. No one is suggesting that unions should fund everyone’s legal defences. The argument, in this case, is that the cause is really important.

    And that, from my perspective, is an impossibly deep rabbit hole. There are hundreds if not thousands of compelling, humanitarian causes around the world, and some in Canada as well. Arguments about which of them are important enough to prompt the intervention of students’ unions in Canada (or the legal defence of those who go out and protest those causes on their own time) would be endless and fruitless. I simply don’t believe unions should go there at all as a blanket policy. And I did protest the invasion of Iraq when I was an elected student, btw, only I did it on my own time and didn’t expect the union’s funding if it somehow went wrong.

    If anyone doubts that these arguments -are- based fundamentally on the importance of the Tamil cause, just pause for a moment and read the first 30 comments on this thread. Again, I don’t for a moment dispute the importance of the cause. I simply believe that was never the question. So I wrote an extremely long blog to explain why.

    Thank you for the civil question, and I apologize for my role in allowing this absurd name-calling squabble to disrupt the discussion.

  60. Yeah, sorry Jeff but that sounds pretty racist. Legal defence for a Tamil protest in Toronto is “pan-national”? Would you say that about legal defence for a tuition fee protest?

  61. Okay, see, this is why I don’t bother. The fact that the protest was located in Toronto is, for my point, entirely irrelevant. You know how many protests are located in Toronto? There are probably three occurring right now.

    If you bothered to read my blog you’d already have the answer to your question regarding tuition fees. I consider tuition fees squarely within the mandate of a students’ union and therefore, yes, a different circumstance.

    I hope the reasonable people of this world, reading this discussion, will appreciate and excuse me for no longer replying to anonymous people who call me a racist as their opening line. If there was any truth to your point I might not find it as offensive as I do – but in fact it is a deeply offensive thing to say and it boggles my mind that some people throw the word so readily.

    Yes, it is possible to support a cause and still believe that not every organization in the world should wade into it. If I were approached as an individual to donate to Ms. Regnier’s defense I might even reach for my wallet. But I don’t believe that students’ unions are positioned to take on issues of this nature, and I find it truly regrettable that people who want to advocate for their opposing view find it easier to call me offensive things rather than simply appreciate that I might disagree in good conscience.

  62. Wow, it seems the discussion has gone on quite a tangential discussion.

    I’m going to comment on the central question – should student unions be providing these funds to Ms. Regnier?

    Some posters have claimed support for the initiative, noting solidarity for human rights everywhere and the right to free protest. If this were the case, should the unions not be raising funds for the defense of ALL the arrested protestors? Instead, they are supporting “one of their own,” a paid staffer (not a student, thanks to others for correcting as well). This appears to be a conflict of interest, or at the very least self-righteous in-group favouritism. Some commenters have claimed these unions are donating to the cause “of their own free will.” But when the individual is so intricately tied into the union, the question must arise of whether these actions are in support of a vague principle, or whether that rhetoric masks a decision made based on their personal relationship. (On a sidenote, it’s amazing how UTSU likes to have it both ways – CFS union execs from other students who campaign for the incumbents are “supporting their friends”; but they’re not supporting Ms. Regnier as a friend, but on the basis of the principle of free speech)

    Others have mentioned that she is representing students, the union, themselves, etc. This is mistaken. In no way did the U.T.S.U. authorize Ms. Regnier to represent the Union at such an event (if they did, I’d love to see the minutes). This status cannot be granted after the event – rather, the Union could only condone her actions (Which I also believe it has not done). She was there as an individual, and thus should not be able to access the resources at her disposal because of her proximity to power.

    I further detest the entitlement of impunity that protestors such as Ms. Regnier have assumed. As has been noted above, civil disobedience requires an assumption of responsibility for violating a (presumably unjust) law, and a willingness to take the consequences. Those with their hands on the reins of power shouldn’t assume they can do whatever they want on the grounds that students can pay for their “get out of jail free” card.

  63. The other arrested protester is having their legal defence covered by their campus trade union. Why no outrage over that? Looks like you guys just have an axe to grind with this organization and this individual. Sad.

  64. Actually, if that was my trade union I’d be pissed.

  65. So if your union isn’t there to defend you, what are you paying dues for?

  66. Angela is not a student. It is not HER student union because she is full-time staff. She does not pay a student fee toward the student union. She is on their payroll however, as full-time staff.

  67. Erin Alvarez, do you pay a student fee toward this student union? If not, why do you have any say on this issue? Why don’t you let the people who were actually elected by the student union membership to make the decision? It’s called democracy.

  68. Dear P,

    Why do you target Erin? There have been a wealth of comments on this article, not all of them from people who pay dues towards this union. Is it because you disagree with something Erin said?

    Calling Erin out specifically is dishonest.

  69. I think it’s pretty obvious why I addressed the question to Erin, but I’ll make it clear.

    Erin is arguing against a decision made by the democratically elected representatives of the student union. Erin is using the argument that only people who pay fees to the student union can receive its support, even if the union democratically decides to make a donation.

    I am asking if Erin is a member of the student union, because it would be highly undemocratic for someone who is not a member and does not pay fees to the organization to tell other people what they are allowed to do with their money.

  70. I don’t agree. I don’t think there’s anything democratic or un(democratic) about criticising how a student union (or really anyone!) spends their money. It might be a social faux pas, but it’s hardly undemocratic to say, “Wow that was a poor use of funds. I don’t think that you should be spending money on that.”

    Not being a member of the union is hardly a reason to keep one’s mouth shut. You’re poised over a very slippery slope when you say that.

  71. It’s one thing to say “this is a poor way to spend your funds.” That’s up for debate.

    What Erin has argued, however, is that the student unions don’t even have “the right” to donate to this legal defense fund.

    That’s why I think it’s pertinent to question whether Erin is a member of the student union. If you’re not a member, you don’t have the right to tell the students of the University of Toronto what they’re allowed to do with their own money.

  72. “The student union should not contribute towards her legal fees”
    is not equivalent to
    “The student union can not contribute towards her legal fees”

    The first is an opinion, and, just as anyone can have an opinion on, say, the Catholic Church, anyone can have an opinion on whether a student union should cover the legal costs of one of its employees.

    The latter is a statement of fact which:
    – is obviously not true.
    – no one is seriously arguing, I think.

  73. @ P

    I am a student who does pay to the student union. I mentioned I was an undergrad earlier. Why so angry?

  74. @ Sean Maguire

    Erin Alvarez posted here: “Student Unions thinking they have the right to give student dollars to someone who gets arrested for illegally protesting. disgusting!”

    If that’s not saying student unions don’t have the right to make this donation, what is it saying?

    Erin, it’s pathetic to keep trying to attribute anger to people who simply question your rationale. It’s the internet. Unless someone is typing in all caps, you’re just projecting your own emotions on others.

    Also, I couldn’t find your name in the UofT student lookup. Did you make up your name or your student status?

  75. @ PaulR

    I will make it clear that I am NOT a a member of the UTSU. I’ve actually never been to Toronto, but I am a member of another undergraduate student union in this province. I won’t tell you which one though, in case you try to run a background check on someone posting on the Macleans blog.

    I agree with the comments of Erin and others, that student unions should not be in the business of providing legal defense money for private actions of their own staff members UNLESS the actions were clearly directed and endorsed by the union, or were directly related to a cause which is clearly educational in scope.

    While there may be situations where there are legal defence funds at many universities or student unions for use by their members regardless of what kind of legal troubles they get in, I personally find it extremely troubling that student money is being spent in this particular instance. While I recognize that the UTSU council has democratically voted to provide this money, I highly doubt that the council was impartial in this matter due to their personal friendship with the staff member. In fact, with no knowledge of this union or how it operates, I would suspect that this motion was created or strongly endorsed by full time executive members, who unduly influence voting councillors, as happens in just about every student union across this country.

    If a staff member was arrested and charged tomorrow in the aftermath of a rally in support of the traditional definition of marriage, would that staff member see the same legal defence fund contribution? I would suspect not.

    I don’t expect my employer to help me out with legal bills for something I do on private time. And I certainly don’t want my student union to be spending time and MY money on social causes which do not relate to the purpose of their existence.

  76. Of course no one “expects” their employer to help out with legal bills. But your employer is perfectly within their rights to democratically decide that they want to assist with legal defense if the actions of the employee are consistent with the political objectives of the organization.

    The student union took a public position against the human rights violations in Sri Lanka, so attending this demonstration was consistent with the objectives of the organization.

    If the Executive Director of Greenpeace was arrested at a demonstration on an issue Greenpeace had endorsed, do you think it would be inappropriate if the board decided to donate to his/her legal defense fund?

  77. How creepy of you to look me up! Erin is my middle name. I am definitely a student at u of T! you’re a creep!

  78. and before you ask me for my gender, sexual orientation, race, student number, residence room number or anything else to reveal my identity i think you should try to understand why me or other students have problems with this. It’s just a forum… relax! People are allowed to give their opinions, too bad if it upsets you so much that you had to look me up…time to change my security settings

  79. If you’re going to call for the impeachment of student union executives and use someone else’s name to make accusations against them, at least have the sign with your real name.

  80. Sure thing, PaulR. That must be your full name.

  81. My last name isn’t listed because I’m not calling for impeachment of student union executives.

  82. Let’s get back to the topic please.

    I’m a bit surprised by the emotional detours the discussions have taken. I did not see events in Sri Lanka as the issue, I was focused on the paying of legal expenses for the UTSU executive director.

    People are correct to state that the UTSU is well within its ability (the term often used is rights) to fund the legal defense of their executive director. The question is should they being doing so.

    The question I’m asking know, after some great comments, is if it is fair for them to fund her legal defense without funding the legal defenses of their own members?

    Let’s do our best to not get too emotional (I don’t say “let’s not be emotional, because we are human) about the issue and focus on the questions being posed.

    I blog not so much to express/report on issues, I truly blog in order to explore the issues I write about.

    There are other places on the internet for mindless chatter and emotional bickering, this is not one of them.

  83. Are there any members who have been rejected by UTSU for funding legal defense? As far as I’m aware, UTSU has contributed to legal defense for its own members for a variety of reasons over the years.

    Joey, unless you can come up with a case of someone approaching UTSU and being rejected, I think you should rephrase your question so it does not assert that the student union does not fund “the legal defenses of their own members”.

  84. PaulR, the UofT 14 who occupied Simcoe did not get money from UTSU for legal defense. That’s just of the top of my head. They got pro bono legal support and OIPRG helped fund raise for them.

  85. @PaulR

    You make a good point, the phrasing of the questions does open the impression that you point to.

    It is clear that the UTSU will now have to create a legal defense fund policy. Since they are funding the defense of a UTSU insider, the question arises if the UTSU Executive/Council can turn down a request from one of their own members.

    Which is an absolute question, and the answer is, of course they can. However, they will be open to accusations of insider favouritism.

  86. Joey, that’s not what policies are intended for. Policies are created to provide guidelines in the absence of directives from those with decision-making power in each individual circumstance.

    For items that occur frequently, such as space booking requests, a policy is necessary to ensure that groups are treated equitably when the elected representatives don’t have the time to debate every single request. For items that occur infrequently, a policy is not necessary because there is likely enough time for the issue to be debated by the decision-making body. And wouldn’t you rather have these types of political decisions made by the elected representatives, rather than by bureaucrats interpreting a policy?

  87. You’re being far too limiting on the definition of a policy, PaulR. Policies are also useful to ensure continuity within an organization, and to make the organization’s likely actions predictable and accountable to outsiders. As you mention, equitable treatment is another benefit of a policy – it helps assure all groups that procedure and agreed-upon, transparent standards are the benchmark, not personal relationships. And as a former elected student representative, I can assure you that policies are helpful for more than simply bureaucrats.

    On a different note, PaulR, you seem to have provided further justification for why student organizations shouldn’t get involved in issues beyond their mandate. By your reasoning, because the Union condemned the situation in Sri Lanka it is justified in funding an Executive who was charged at the rally (which still doesn’t explain why other unions would contribute funding, but that’s a different story). But where does this end? Should the union be contributing funds directly to Tamil organizations to help alleviate suffering? Should they as a Union blockade St. George Street? Maybe fund union representatives to go to Sri Lanka to directly alleviate suffering? It’s a slippery slope, my friend, which is why I concur with Jeff Rybak’s recommendation to leave these non-pertinent issues the hell enough alone.

  88. I wish I could get arrested, get fined, then go to my work and ask them to cover the legal costs.

    I have written about the expanding scope of student “unions” and the CFS a couple of times. If the students are fighting for the direct rights of students on campus, as in a sit-in or a legitimate rally on campus, then that would be a suitable reason to cover some legal costs.

    This had nothing to do with the students of the University of Toronto.

  89. Ken, you have also written that the CFS should be “apolitical”, so you would argue against a student union donating to any cause whatsoever.

    You also argue that student unions and the CFS become more like trade unions like PSAC by providing benefits to its members.

    I’m not going to rehash all the CFS member services since you’re probably aware of them and simply choose to forget, but you’re painfully mistaken if you think that PSAC doesn’t participate in political action.

    PSAC advocates on a broad range of political issues, not just those that are strictly related to the workplace. See here: http://www.psac.com/issues/index-e.shtml

    PSAC even has a Social Justice Fund for international work and humanitarian assistance, going far beyond any donation from a student union or the CFS for international issues: http://www.psac-sjf.org

  90. One Thing I can say about PSAC is at least it spends the vast majority of its time and resources fighting for and representing its membership. I would assume that the CFS is doing the same but, when ever I hear about it in the news (campus and other media) I hear about it either having an internal fight over reform or they have passed a motion that angers a good portion of the students it represents. Other than the ritual once yearly mass protest, how often do you hear about the CFS tackling Education issues in the news?

    I will admit that it may be that fact that the media is most likely ignoring what the CFS is doing. If this is the case maybe the CFS should focus more on the education aspect of its mandate and try to achieve substantial victories (Tuition reductions) before it runs around taking on other non-education issues.

    PSAC can look into other issues because it has mostly managed to gain the victories it originally set out to achieve. The CFS has yet to do this. It should focus only on education issues tell it achieves its major objective. Once the objective is reached, I am sure students will entertain the idea of supporting other causes. For the time being there are other organizations on campus that interested students can go to (i.e. OPIRG, Campus Clubs, NGOs) if they are interested in other national and international issues.

  91. How have you come to the conclusion that PSAC has “managed to gain the victories it originally set out to achieve”? With more and more of the federal public service being privatized and contracted out, I don’t know how you can make that argument. I’d say the privatization of the public service is just as much a setback for PSAC as tuition fee increases are for the CFS.

    I think you’re grasping at straws to justify why trade unions can take on international issues but student unions shouldn’t.

  92. I don’t think I am grasping at straws at all. Unions were formed to ensure better working conditions (Safe workplace, 40 hour work week, vacation and sick leave etc.) for their members and in my opinion I think they have achieved that. Now the trade unions must fight to ensure that they maintain what they have which In my opinion takes much less resources. Unions now have a surplus of resources and can use them to achieve other objectives as directed by their membership.

    If the privatization of the public service is a big issue and a huge set back for PSAC maybe they should take a look at its priorities and adjust its resources accordingly. It’s basic organizational theory, you always have to evaluate and adjust. If you have achieved your original mandate you must come up with a new one or risk fading away. If the environment you were operating in changes you must adapt or risk fading away. PSAC’s environment and mandate has changed from what it was at its founding, its progression into non-labour issues is its attempt to stay relevant with its members and in its environment.

    The CFS on the other hand has mostly failed to achieve its mandate. It has, in my opinion, taken on so many causes in an attempt to be relevant to everyone that it has alienated many students it represents. Brining the focus back to education, directing all its resources to that end would make the CFS a better more focused organization that could achieve some significant results for its members.

    I will never argue that an organization cannot take on issues beyond its original mandate. What I am arguing is, should they go beyond their original mandate and what circumstances should exist before they do? Why should a student union or the CFS take on other social justice issues when they have yet to achieve their major goals and when there are other organizations (OPIRG, Campus Clubs, Other NGOs) on campus that an interested student can turn to?

  93. Privatization of the public sector is pretty much a fear mongering stance used by the unions to garner more support, and it usually doesn’t work (which is why you rarely hear about it). AND, when it does become a factor, as with the CFIA, PSAC (and other unions involved) focus their attention on it. A question to ask yourself is: would the Canadian Public Service be a strong without Unions such as PSAC or CUPE? Or to phrase it a different way, if the unions did not exist, what would the public sector look like? Now pose that question in regards to students and the CFS.

    But this article is in regards to whether or not the Students should have to foot the legal bill for something a staff member did on her own time. Which is a big no.

  94. Thanks for the link, PaulR. I particularly found the first example interesting, since it’s a claim UTSU has made repeatedly (“We have to stop the tuition increase! The next thing you know, they’ll be charging $40,000 a semester!”).

    My term was a little trite. I stand by what I said, but perhaps it would be better rephrased as “blurring the lines of appropriateness.” The fact is, you claimed they were within their right to take this action, as it aligns with their political objectives. But so many actions can be justified by their “political objectives” (again, not even getting into the issue above of whether this is an appropriate political objective for a student union) – so where will the line be drawn? And on what grounds will they be able to justify it?

  95. Craig, please show us this supposed claim that the UTSU makes “repeatedly”, about tuition fees increasing to $40,000 a semester. For some reason I think you’re making it up.

  96. Again, I’ve allowed my haste to get in the way of clarity of language – my apologies. I should have clarified that it’s the TYPE of fear-mongering claim that UTSU often makes (sometimes as part of CFS campaigns). This rhetoric was invoked during the annual tutition fee raise in 2008 for sure, as well as during their plebscite on the Towards 2030 plan held last fall (arguing that tuition would skyrocket to U.S. private college levels, despite an entirely different vision being outlined in the document). While I’m sure you’re aware many campaign web materials are removed following the end of the campaign, I was able to find an allusion to their obscurist fear-mongering tactics in the comments of Rob Steiner, in this Varsity article: http://thevarsity.ca/article/3516.

    If you’re finished attacking me on tangential issues, PaulR/”P”, I’d like to refocus the debate on the central issue that you seem to prefer to elude: is it appropriate for the Union to fund Ms. Regnier’s legal fees? And where can they draw the line?

    Also, here’s a link to a Varsity article that was just published on the situation: http://thevarsity.ca/article/19424-student-unions-donate-to-protestor-s. Enjoy!

  97. No student unions should not fund full-time employees when they decide to do somethingi illegal

    If you MUST then do a fundrasiser don’t just take it out of students pockets.

    These are the same people protesting for tuition decrease? If it wasn’t being wasted on someone’s legal fees maybe I would attend one of their meetings or protests.

    Back to the main point, NO student unions should focus on STUDENTS because without them who would they “represent”?

    I think that more students should speak up…would it really make a difference though? tsk tsk! Critcize the U of T Admin….and politicians …yet they pull this stuff.

  98. @Everyone
    THIS THREAD IS CERTIFIED AWESOME!

    Someone accused Jeff Rybek of being a racist because he is white, PaulR is internet stalking people, there are glorious uses of fishing metaphors, and someone else is attempting to justify why trade unions should observe international events yet student unions shouldn’t.

    …only at MacLeans On Campus

  99. Steve,

    I feel honoured that I get mentioned twice on your astonishment.

    I have to admit this conversation has gone on for a long time and has shifted focus many times. I am surprised Godwin’s Law has yet to take effect. I thought we were close when people started throwing around accusations of racism.

  100. I am really glad to have a students union that takes a stand for social justice causes, and against genocide in sri lanka. UofT’s history includes work against apartheid south africa etc. They are hard decisions to make, but courageous and grounded ones.

  101. Here’s a funny question: if there were 5000 people committing the same offense – blocking a road – why were only 3 arrested? How does the police decides *which* 3 to arrest?