A slow start for U of G’s referendum with CFS

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and its Ontario division (CFS-O) have filed for an appeal on the ruling that allowed a membership referendum to take place at the University of Guelph (U of G).

At the beginning of April, the University of Guelph's undergraduate student union, the Central Student Association (CSA), hosted a referendum questioning of the university’s continued membership in the CFS.

More than 40 per cent of eligible undergraduate students,voted in the referendum. 

According to results published by the Central Student Association, 75 per cent of the 7330 who voted chose in favour of leaving the federation.

The CFS and the CFS-Ontario intend to appeal the original ruling by Ontario Superior Court Justice John O’Connor that allowed the referendum to take place. 


Justice O’Connor also appointed a former Ontario Superior Court justice as a third-party arbitrator for the referendum.

Dave Molenhuis, CFS national treasurer, said, “We’ve filed for an appeal on the grounds that there were no reasons cited for the court’s decision to arbitrate on the matter or to rule on the matter of holding a referendum at the University of Guelph."

“So without any written ruling with reasons, the federation has decided to appeal.”

No decision has yet been reached on the appeal, Molenhuis said. “It’s a lengthy process, and it’s still in the beginning stages.”

According to Guelph's student news website, the Cannon, the university's student union originally submitted a petition in October 2009, requesting a referendum.

That petition, the Cannon reported, was declared invalid by the CFS-O because it was submitted by process server instead of registered mail, which violated CFS bylaws.  The CFS national executive told the Cannon that the Central Student Association wasn’t helping to verify signatures on the petition.

However, the Cannon states the University of Guelph's office of registrarial services had performed a count.

The CFS has also requested a formal audit of the online voting process used by students to cast their ballots.

In addition, Molenhuis said sufficient information has not been provided about the referendum, inciting the appeal. 

“Both the student union and the university administration have denied the federation the most basic of information about the process that was used during that referendum,” he said.

After the referendum, the CSA sent out a press release April 21, announcing it would withdraw from the CFS and the CFS-O effective June 30. 

However, Central Student Association communications commissioner Gavin Armstrong told the Cannon that the appeal puts the association's withdrawal from the CFS in jeopardy. 

Armstrong said the appeal would delay official submission of the withdrawal, which was to have occurred at the CFS annual general meeting over Victoria Day weekend.