On November 14, the SSMU Legislative Council held their second-to-last meeting of the semester.
SSMU Asset Management
The first presentation of the night was made by Jordan Steiner, Chief Compliance Officer and Lead Portfolio Manager at Lester Asset Management (LAM). Since 2007, LAM has managed a large portfolio for the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU). Steiner presented that from an initial investment of approximately $1.8-million, the portfolio has grown to a value of $3.8-million. This amounts to an increase of about 111 percent. Steiner also noted that the SSMU’s investment outperformed the index over the same time period. He reported that the SSMU’s portfolio gained an additional $700 000 when compared to investment in the relevant index fund, and that the portfolio was almost fully invested in Canadain businesses.
Steiner also noted that, in accordance to LAM’s agreement with the SSMU, LAM prioritized investing in green companies in the energy sector and has seen strong returns. No SSMU assets would be invested in sectors such as oil and gas/pipelines, weaponry, metals and mining, coal, tobacco and/or logging.
A representative from the accounting firm FL Fuller Landau LLP indicated that their independent audit of the SSMU’s finances had shown nothing irregular or noteworthy. FL Fuller Landau had been commissioned to complete the audit as part of a routine practice.
This was followed by a 25 minute confidential session, during which all members of the gallery were asked to leave. Spectators were barred from entering the room and were not offered any information regarding what was being discussed. Upon asking the Recording Secretary, who was acting as a bouncer for the period, what the content of the private hearing pertained to, she responded that absolutely no information could be given. No official comments have been released regarding the nature of the discussion.
Sponsored Trips to Israel-Palestine
The most contentious issue surrounded the on-going debate regarding the decision of six council members to accept all-expenses-paid trips to the Israel-Palestine region sponsored by Hillel Montreal. The issue was initially brought forward by Senator Lametti, who asked the Council to opine on the ethics of the situation. Councillor Lametti also expressed his concern that these council members would be indebted to, and perhaps thus more easily persuaded by, the aforementioned organisation. Many of the representatives in question commented on their decision to go on the trip, generally repeating the sentiment that “[going on the trip] would not affect [their] professional duties as a councillor or director”, as Councillor Jordyn Wright responded.
Following the discussion, VP External Affairs Adam Gwiazda-Amsel, stated that the “decision that these councillors have made is an inherently political one” and proposed a new motion, requesting that council suspend the usual rules, add this motion to the agenda, and bring the issue to a vote. Had the proposed motion been approved, it would have forbid members of the body from going on the trip. However, the motion required a 2/3 majority as opposed to the conventional 1/2. As such, it was not passed.
Update: Since the November 14 meeting, at least one member of the Legislative Council intending to go on the trip, Adin Chan, has decided to ultimately decline the offer.
A previous version of this article did not mention that Councillor Gwiazda-Amsel’s motion was a late addition to the agenda, and thus required a different majority for approval than the conventional 1/2.