The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), a National Embarrassment

I just finished working with the University of Regina Students’ Union.  They were holding a referendum on continued membership in the Canadian Federation of Students, I was the chair of the ‘No Campaign’.

Here are the facts that I used to back up my campaign:

Nine separate legal proceedings plus a pile of other legal filings, the CFS vs. other Student Unions from across Canada.

13 Schools from across Canada circulated petitions in 2009 to de-federate from the CFS

The CFS loses a court appeal and the University of Saskatchewan membership

The Post Graduate Students’ Society at McGill University vote to leave the CFS.

Unions Across the Country are Trying to Escape the CFS

“If students at schools still affiliated with the CFS didn’t yet have a reason to leave the organization, they do now.”

CBC News coverage on the CFS

More News Coverage

Sounds too ridiculous to be true right?  Because the process to de-federate is so long and difficult, the CFS has plenty of time to prepare for these referendums.  Like clock work during our campaign against the CFS they flew in at least fifteen additional people who were pro-CFS from all across Canada.

In addition to them flying people in from all over the country, all “Campaign materials” had to be approved by the Referendum Oversight Committee (ROC).  The ROC was made up for two people from the University of Regina and two members from the CFS referendum attack squad.  They had done this before and understood exactly how to control a referendum.  It was not a fair referendum at all, they manipulated every aspect of the messaging, knowing full well that if we declared an “unfair” referendum on our side, and walked away or took them to court, the default would be to remain in the CFS.  We had no choice but to follow their rules. For example:

-We we not permitted to use the word “Google” in our messaging, this poster was declined:


-The ROC ordered our Facebook fanpage to be disabled to ensure no “unapproved” content made its way onto the wall.

-Another poster that was no allowed:


-Another un-approved poster:


They are professionals at winning referendums.  They know exactly what they can and can’t get away with.  During a referendum in BC, CFS “war plans” were leaked and the nation got a glimpse of how serious this organization is at winning referendums.

The fact that Universities can not call another referendum for five years after they hold a referendum is the reason why they take these so serious.  For the U of R, a small school to the CFS, we pay $89,000 per year to the CFS.  If they can win this referendum that is $445,000 ($89,000 X 5) in revenue over the next five years.

It’s very profitable for the CFS to keep schools as members, even though they may not be servicing them whatsoever.

From their financials not being online, to not hiring a Saskatchewan organizer since 2007, the reasons to de-federate from the CFS become more and more clear.  You can see all the reasons why in this presentation I made, the abomination of a federation:

The Abomination of a Federation

View more presentations from JMaystruck.

The referendum ended at 9:00pm on Thursday October 28th after a long three days of campaigning.  Almost as anticipated, the CFS found a way to stall the counting of the votes.  Citing discrepancies’ with students ineligible to vote (some international students and the students of the First Nation University of Canada, a separate local in the Federation) the CFS believed these student should have the right to vote and thus stall the result of the referendum.

As of Monday November 1st, at 9:00pm we still have heard nothing from the Referendum Oversight Committee.


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