OTTAWA-  Over the weekend students from across Canada converged on the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) general meeting to protest CFS’ refusal to liberate students who have voted to leave the CFS.  CFS is currently involved in multiple lawsuits trying to force students who have voted to leave the CFS to continue paying CFS fees indefinitely.

“Since 2009, students at about 15 schools have petitioned to leave the CFS, yet no student organization has successfully left without a lawsuit. In several cases, students have voted overwhelmingly to leave the CFS in democratic referenda. CFS has refused to recognize the results and claims that these students are still members and owe CFS fees”, explains Jonathan Mooney, Secretary-General of McGill’s Post-Graduate Student Society (PGSS). PGSS members voted 86% in favor of leaving the CFS in 2010 but the CFS refuse to recognize the results and continues the demand of fees.

The “CFS’ refusal to release students who have voted to leave, demonstrates a complete lack of respect for freedom of association. Students are being held hostage by an organization with questionable transparency and accountability, lobbying the federal government when education is a provincial matter”, adds Melissa Kate Wheeler, President of the Concordia Student Union (CSU).  CSU members voted 72% in favour of leaving the CFS in 2010 but are still being told their members owe fees.

The CFS’ process to dissociate is intentionally filled with hurdles and technicalities designed to trap students into paying fees forever. They  use student money to pay lawyers to litigate against any student organization trying to leave, when this money could serve students’ interests instead.

Students from over ten schools across Canada protested with giant lobster traps at the CFS annual meeting to denounce what they claim are the CFS’ abusive practices towards the democratic will of its past or actual members. The lobster traps were to illustrate “how CFS works: students can get into CFS, but can never get out”.

Students at McGill’s Post-Graduate Student Society, the Concordia Student Union, and the Graduate Student Association of Concordia are involved in lawsuits with the CFS currently, while students from the University of Toronto Graduate Student Union, Capilano Students Union, Laurentian University Graduate Students’ Association, and the Dawson Student Union have petitioned to leave the CFS this year.

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