CUPE Local 1356 Blog

Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1356. We have three Collective Agreements as Local 1356, 1356-01, and 1356-02. The membership is comprised of the full-time and part-time workers of York University the Local website is at This Blog will include Local information and information garnered from sources other Universities, Colleges, Post Secondary/Tertiary Education and news sources supplying information.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Conservative Party Tries to Interfere with Student Government Elections

Below is a copy of a recent press release of the YFS exposing members of the Conservative Party of Canada and the York Administration for trying undermine your democratic right to vote in an autonomous students’ union election:

Conservative Politicians and York University Administrators Revealed Interfering in York Student Elections

TORONTO, July 6 /CNW/ - Emails secured through a recent Freedom of Information request revealed that Conservative MP Peter Kent, MPP Peter Shurman, and senior York University administrators were interfering in this year's general elections of the York Federation of Students (YFS). During the elections, Robert Tiffin, York University's Vice-President Students, warned the students' union not to disqualify candidates who were caught violating the elections rules because the University and members of Parliament "were watching the election closely." MP Peter Kent was later found to have assigned a key staff member to intervene in the election on behalf of a team of candidates. Both politicians appeared to ask if York would throw out the results, despite no evidence of wrongdoing or any authority to do so.

"The student elections were run in a fair and democratic manner and in accordance with our bylaws," said Krisna Saravanamuttu, President of the York Federation of Students. "The York Administration and members of the Conservative Party have no right or authority to interfere in the elections of the students' union simply because they disagree with student criticisms of their policies."

Campus students' unions, like the York Federation of Students, are autonomous non-profit corporations that are run by and for students and which are independent of their campus administrations. Students' unions exist to provide services for students and a voice for students to lobby decision-makers on issues that affect them.

"The York Federation of Students is accountable only to the 44,000 undergraduate students at York University and the Ontario courts," said Saravanamuttu. "University administrators and Conservative politicians interfering in student elections is like an employer attempting to select
union representatives. Their objective in silencing opposition is quite obvious here."

The emails uncovered through an access to information request revealed persistent inquires from key political staff on behalf of Conservative MPP Shurman and MP Kent about the results of the York student elections and are part of a growing body of evidence that the federal and provincial Conservative Parties are attempting to undermine democratic student decision-making. Earlier this year, Conservative MP Peter Braid was secretly recorded addressing students in Waterloo as part of a day-long workshop designed to counsel Conservative students on how to set up front groups on campuses to siphon away money intended for student activities in order to advance the Party's agenda under false pretenses.

"Students have the democratic right to choose their own representatives without the university administration and the Conservative Party interference," says Saravanamuttu. "I think tax-payers would be pretty shocked to learn that their money is being used in this way."

Read the full access to information request here.

The York Federation of Students represents over 44,000 undergraduate students at York University and is a member of the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario.

For further information:
Krisna Saravanamuttu,
President of the York Federation of Students:

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