The Canadian Federation of Students British Columbia chapter lost a legal fight this week when they were ordered to ratify a representative from the Kwantlen Student Association on their board. Since May 2008, CFS-BC has refused to recognize the KSA representative as a voting member of the board, even though each member student union is supposed to have a vote according to CFS bylaws.
Justice Brown ruled Wednesday that CFS-BC was in violation of the Society Act and their own bylaws by not admitting the KSA’s representative, Derek Robertson, who was twice voted to the position by Kwantlen students. The KSA applauded the decision. “I’m happy to see that the court has upheld the rights of individual student societies, and their students, to elect their own representation,” said Steven Lee, KSA chairperson, in a release. “This ruling makes the CFS-BC more accountable, democratic, and open to more than one point of view.”
However, Shamus Reid, chairperson of CFS-BC, warned that the ruling could have grave consequences for societies in BC. CFS-BC was concerned that Robertson “could not represent their interests,” Reid explained in an email to Maclean’s. “The BC Society Act provides that directors of a society are legally responsible for protecting the society from harm,” he added. “Despite this legal responsibility, Madame Justice Brown’s ruling denies directors the legal power to do so.” The KSA claims that CFS-BC directors are worried that Robertson would be disloyal to the CFS.
The KSA has long been in conflict with the CFS over a variety of issues, and last year held a defederation campaign to end the union’s membership in the organization. The referendum failed. Leading up to and during the the referendum, the two organizations were in and out of court.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.