The “Motion 6” Bind

December 3, 2009 at 11:48 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

I’ve been following the 2009 Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Federation of Students, where (more-or-less) 2/3 of the delegates voted in favor of Motion 6, a motion that make members defederation much more difficult.

The first clause of Motion 6 is “Raising the petition requirement from 10% to 20% of students in the member local”; this alone makes No the only responsible vote. Most Canadian university campus are not politically active – 20% sets a higher bar for initiating referendum than most total voter turnout (see diagram).

Now that it passed, all CFS members are effectively chained for life. I hope UVSS manage to get out from this organization while it still can this year.

See EyeOnTheUVSS for links to the most recent articles and backgrounders. You are welcome to make use of the diagram, or contribute data to it.



  1. andrew f said,

    comparing # of signatures required to start a referendum vs. voter turnout is a skewed analysis

    motion 6 doesnt require a 20% voter TURNOUT. It requires 20% of the student body’s signatures… something far easier to get than high voter turn out.

    example: you can get 20% of the U Calgary GSA’s membership to sign easy… thats only about 1300 students. anyone who has ever run a petition of any sort (like save the owls) can get that number of signatures in a couple days.

    i dont know my thoughts on motion 6. but I think your diagram is unfair, and is kind of misinformation being spread about the cfs.

    seeing diagrams like this makes me side with the pro-cfs people.

  2. Jon said,

    Interesting take Andrew. Considering their mechanisms, I thought it would be far easier to get people to vote than getting petitions.

    Voting (at least on our campus) can be done online, which requires minimal effort on the part of the voter; it is also advertised broadly by the campaigning sides, as well as through university communications (e.g., emails to *, over a period of weeks leading up to it. Both Yes/No sides have an incentive to vote in order to be heard.

    Petitions, on the other hand, are less well supported by way of infrastructure. The signatures need to be physically obtained; there is less resource available to the petitioners, and no centralized means to solicit awareness from the general student body. Students who are reached but not care, or those who are reached but want to maintain status quo, would choose to not sign the petition.

    The difficulty of obtaining petitions scale disproportionately to the schools’ size. Obtaining 1300 signatures in a couple of days is pretty great (to me at least – I’ve no experience or intention to do such :) ) I surmise the requirement to get to the 2500-8000 signatures would be much harder.

    In the last analysis, I agree that a diagram of %signatures required for initiating different political process (say, constitution changes) in and out of academia would be a fairer comparison. I had a hard time finding these numbers last night (they’re often buried in densely worded legal-docs), which is why I substituted turnout. My hunch is that most of the petition requirements would ceiling at 10%, but I don’t know the numbers right now, and would appreciate help in finding actual numbers.

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