UVSS and CFS finally have their day in court

UVic's student union is attempting to hold a referendum on leaving

After many months of behind the scenes wrangling, the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) finally went to court with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) in an attempt to force a referendum to leave the sometimes maligned, often litigious student association.

(To tell an exceedingly long story in 66 words: Last year a petition was circulated at UVic to leave the CFS. It had the signatures of more than 10% of students. Then, a counter-petition was circulated. The CFS decided those that had signed both petitions had essentially revoked their original signature in wanting a referendum, and therefore wouldn’t count. Ipso facto, they refused to accept the petition. The UVSS got mad, and here we are.)

The courtroom battle will continue today, but from the looks of tweets from the Martlet’s Kailey Willetts and a detailed writeup from the blog Eye on the UVSS, it looks favourable for the UVSS. The judge, Malcolm Macaulay, found the CFS’ position that their executive could find ways of invalidating signatures of real students flawed.

“It’s a slippery slope,” he said, according to Eye on the UVSS. “If you can go further and inquire, ‘Did you really mean it when you signed it,’ it requires them to conduct what may be a very flawed investigation, we don’t know. They’ve taken evidence that someone else presented to them–was that not an investigation?”

More notably, the CFS’ secondary claim against the validity of a referendum—that the UVSS owes over $100,000 due to fees from the student union to the CFS not keeping up with inflation for a period of time—was ruled irrelevant by Macaulay. This isn’t to say that the fees couldn’t come up in a later courtroom battle, but in this particular case on whether the UVSS can hold a referendum, it has become a moot issue.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.