Legislative Council Debates Motion Regarding Responsible Representation

Photo: David Diao

Amending a motion of condemnation

The Motion Regarding Responsible Representation was presented by Councillor Bryan Buraga during the Legislative Council meeting on October 18. It was brought forward in an effort to amend a controversy that arose out of the SSMU’s “unequivocal condemnation of the racist and xenophobic policies of the CAQ,” which took place under the former VP External, Marina Cupido. This viewpoint was published on the VP External Affairs Facebook page and was intended to showcase the “CAQ’s detrimental actions toward our students.”

Cupido’s condemnation of the CAQ on the VP External official Facebook page criticized the party for having nationalistic, racist, and xenophobic policies. The post, which was intended to provide students with outlets for mobilization, sparked debate within the Legislative Council on whether the unilateral stance taken by Cupido should be upheld by the SSMU as an organization, or amended.

The amendment Buraga proposed included a revised strategy for elected officials to criticize specific CAQ policies, instead of upholding a statement condemning the entire party. Additionally, the amendment was framed by Councillor Buraga as a method of ensuring a unified SSMU identity. He stated that “if an executive in the future were to go rogue, mechanisms will be instituted, (through this motion) to allow other SSMU members to fix [their unilateral decisions.]”

Constructive to the SSMU mandate, or an insensitive condemnation?

During the debate, Councillor Mousseau brought to light certain concerns raised against Cupido that he believed to be excessively accusatory. He believed that the accusations that Cupido  “provid[ed] little substantial evidence of the CAQ government being specifically xenophobic, or racist” were unnecessary.

Councillor Mousseau then stated that, “if passed, this motion would show that the SSMU is insensitive to Cupido citing mental health reasons regarding their resignation, therefore, this motion should be struck”. Councillor Sanchez agreed with Mousseau, stating during the debate that having to cite or provide substantive evidence of one’s lived experience is unnecessary.

Alternatively, Councillor Figeurido and Councillor Buraga believed the statement given by Cupido came “out of left field”. Both individuals argued that the SSMU must amend the statement to provide a more specific stance toward the CAQ provincial government’s policies. Instead of condemning the CAQ wholeheartedly, Councillor Buraga went on to state that this amendment would ensure “fairer student representation”. Councillor Figuerido concluded his argument by stating that the amendment “was created in good faith and that student government should be responsible for representing students”.

The Verdict

After the debate concluded, the SSMU Legislative Council struck down the Motion Regarding Responsible Representation. In the wake of Cupido’s condemnation of the CAQ, the motion’s lack of approval means that the posting abilities of the VP External and other executives remain formally unchanged. Given this ruling, individual executives remain free from further executive overview, resulting in the posting ability of public statements to continue as the mandate of SSMU’s VP External. However, informally, the controversy raised by the situation may impact SSMU executives’ actions on social media in the future.

 

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