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Some tough questions


 

Yesterday, it was revealed the York Federation of Students president had left his campus to campaign for the Canadian Federation of Students in Ottawa. (Read the article here) Today, the YFS explained why they went to Ottawa. Jeremy Salter, YFS’ executive director, wrote on Facebook:

“We had made a commitment to be in Ottawa long before the strike started. We evaluated the situation and divided our resources to have people both in Ottawa and Toronto. We also traveled [sic] back to Toronto as required. Our office is closed and we are not on the picket line. We have been ding all that we can to address student concerns. Our table has been set up since last week and we have only now received confirmation to have meetings with both parties. Should you have any other questions please let me know.”

As a journalist, I often have to cancel on prior commitments to cover more important stories. That’s life; things change. I can understand the anger that students feel about the misplaced priorities of the YFS executive. However, let’s put aside the priorization issue for a second. This statement raises a few question:

  1. If the prior committment to the CFS and SFUO was so important, why didn’t the YFS inform the student body? “We also traveled [sic] back to Toronto as required.”
  2. When did they leave and when are they coming back?
  3. Who paid for the flights?
  4. How many extra plane tickets were used to travel back and forth during the SFUO referendum?
  5. Who paid for these tickets?

Additional:Wassim asks even better questions below:

A few more relevant questions…

– Are you still being paid while you are campaigning in Ottawa?
– Where are you staying while you campaign in Ottawa, and who is paying for your accommodations, if any.
– Do you receive money for food or other expenses incurred while you are in Ottawa? If so, who is incurring these costs?
– The strike began on November 6th. The CFS/SFUO campaign began on November 7th. What kind of commitment did you make to “be in Ottawa”, and to whom?
– What are you doing in Ottawa exactly, that could not have been done by other CFS Members, and more importantly, University of Ottawa students?


 

Some tough questions

  1. Why all the talk about flying? Ottawa-Toronto is a under 5-hour drive.

  2. Good point Philippe. I’m used to speaking to politicians and journalists who fly Porter religiously.

  3. Why the “sic”? One may have “traveled” or “travelled.”

  4. A few more relevant questions…

    – Are you still being paid while you are campaigning in Ottawa?
    – Where are you staying while you campaign in Ottawa, and who is paying for your accommodations, if any.
    – Do you receive money for food or other expenses incurred while you are in Ottawa? If so, who is incurring these costs?
    – The strike began on November 6th. The CFS/SFUO campaign began on November 7th. What kind of commitment did you make to “be in Ottawa”, and to whom?
    – What are you doing in Ottawa exactly, that could not have been done by other CFS Members, and more importantly, University of Ottawa students?

  5. If anyone is wondering whether the results of the referendum are out, the answer is not yet.

    Apparently, it takes more than 24 hours to count ballots with a choice of “Yes” and “No”.

    The observers for the YES are Jeremy Salter and James Pratt. There are also the two employees of the CFS, also the two members on the over-sight committee, Lucy Watson and Christine Bourque.

    For the NO, they were entitled to two representatives. But only Michèle Lamarche, official representative for the No side, is actually in the room.

    Reasons given for the delay: Students were required to vote, put their ballot in an envelope, and then put the envelope in question into another envelope with their name and student number written on it. According to the oversight committee, comprised of two “neutral” parties of the SFUO and two “representatives” of the CFS, this system ensures that no one gets to vote twice.

    They began counting the ballots at 10AM this morning.

    So let’s recapulate. James Pratt, Jeremy Salter, Christine Bourque and Lucy Watson on one side. Michèle Lamarche on the other.

    On those five people, only one is an actual (University of Ottawa) student.

    24+ hours to count ballots.

  6. There are also the two “neutral” representatives of the SFUO, Faris Lehn and Dean Haldenby.

    I have no idea whether or not there are any scrutineers aside from the parties mentioned.

    Let me recapulate.

    5 CFS employees. (Not University of Ottawa Students).
    1 University of Ottawa Student representing the No side.
    2 University of Ottawa students trying to be “neutral”.

    Unknown number of scrutineers, if any.

  7. Pardon my typo in my last comment.

    It is perhaps the fatigue that comes with waiting over 30 hours (and counting) after the vote to get results.

    In the room:
    4 – not 5 – CFS employees (not University of Ottawa Students)
    2 “neutral” University of Ottawa Students
    1 University of Ottawa Student campaigning for the No.

    30+ hours after the vote, still no results.

  8. Hey U of O, how are you enjoying your CFS-style democracy?

  9. The most disgustingly unethical thing I’ve witnessed. Intimidation and blank cheques, that’s something to be proud of.

  10. Recapitulate. Recapulate. You say tomato…

  11. Wassim:

    I wish I could clarify these questions of referendum financing. In my defense, I did try to know more about it…

    At the November 2007 CFS general meeting (the last national meeting before the multiple referenda to disaffiliate in BC, as well as one or two referendum to join in Ontario), there was a debate on the budget line for referenda. In the end it was increased from $30,000 to $50,000 (approximative numbers, but I’m quite sure it’s the right order of magnitude… if I had my binder I could be more exact).

    In any case, when this was discussed in the francophone students constituency group, and since there would be a debate at plenary about the proper budget for that line, I figured it would make sense to ask what this money was used for in the first place. I don’t remember exactly how the discussion went, but after 1-2 minutes or so I didn’t get any precise idea which part of the money if any was used for off campus volunteers, and then one CFS staffperson in the room said something like: “ok. that’s enough” and the discussion (to which only really 2-3 people participated out of 10 in that room) was basically over.

  12. If memory serves, the budget line was increased to $45,000 and there was quite a bit of debate on the issue. It wasn’t just a rubber stamped increase. I believe the motion experienced one of those amend the amendment to the amendment to the …

    I’d have to check my notes to be sure of the exact amount, though.

  13. I should clarify who I am (and, more importantly, was). At the time of last year’s November general meeting, I was the Ottawa bureau chief for Canadian University Press and, as such, the only member of the media in the room.

    (The CFS relaxed its media policy somewhat in May, when three members of the media were permitted to watch the plenary proceedings and one additional newspaper was allowed to cover Jack Layton’s keynote.)

  14. Nick: You’re right it was amended down, but if I remember well it’s because the original proposal (which maybe was $60,000 or something) would have put the original budget into deficit and people wanted to avoid that. That was the main argument to reduce it to $45,000, as far as I could tell.

  15. Philippe, I believe you have it right on the money.

  16. I find it difficult to believe that the decision to help the referendum in Ottawa was made LONG before. The referendum was only announced on the 21st of October.

  17. After the 32 hours of counting… I was released from the dreaded room.

    Renaud Garner was supposed to join me in the room when the count was originally supposed to take place immediately after the closing of the polls. The No volunteers are all students from the University of Ottawa (with the exception of our two Carleton volunteers — only two from the list of 28 were accepted by CUSA president Brittany Smyth), so when the count was moved to Friday morning at the last minute, it was difficult to find a volunteer who did not have class or work. The Yes observers are CFS employees or non-SFUO students. I had a volunteer who was able to join us later, but the Yes side and Lucy Watson REFUSED. So I was alone, very alone, outnumbered, and uncomfortable.

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