On November 29, the SSMU Legislative Council held their final meeting of the Fall Semester, in which they reviewed reports of the progress made by various committees over the term.
First, Indigenous Affairs Commissioner Tomas Jirousek for the Indigenous Affairs Committee spoke about the Change the Name Campaign, a project which has been ongoing since May 2018. As evidenced by the referendum vote, the campaign received widespread support. Jirousek discussed the future plans of the Indigenous Affairs Committee, particularly raising funds for the Open Door Homeless Shelter, which benefits a primarily Inuit population, and addressing the underrepresentation of Indigenous knowledge within North American Curriculum.
Later, Funding Commissioners Eva Ren and Raj Birij presented data on the allocation of funds made to various McGill clubs and organizations. Certain members criticized some allocations of funding, including Arts Representative Ana Paula Sanchez, who questioned “the ethical ramifications of funding organizations like AIESEC.” Ren and Birij asserted that money had been distributed through a strict assessment process by the committee that measured the benefits and impacts that the allocation would have on the student body.
Discussing the fact that most of the funds were allocated to the Club and Ambassador Funds, they stressed that there was a lack of applications for certain funds, such as the Equity Fund and the Environmental Fund, saying that there is still money to be given out. Ultimately, the council voted to approve the budget allocations.
Later, various councillors presented reports and answered questions on their progress over the semester. The reports issued by the committee can be accessed online here under Council Documents: Committee Reports and Executive Reports.
Distribution of Accountability Survey
Legislative Council Members distributed and reviewed their results from the Accountability Survey, which was proposed at the November 16 meeting by member Chip Smith and the SSMU Accountability Committee. Each member was ranked numerically and given averages based on factors such as: fulfillment of mandate, participation, and constructiveness during council meetings; and availability and responsiveness to email (pertinent only to executives). The Council used this period to address various issues and concerns that had been raised. Such issues included the late appointment of nominees, the failure of the Financial Ethics Committee to meet this semester, and the lack of attendance of members at certain meetings.
Speaker Husayn Jamal addressed issues within the Accountability Survey itself, such as the flawed quantitative measurement of voting and a discrepancy in measurement on the forms for the Anglophone and Francophone members of the Council. He described the ordinal ranking process as “arbitrary,” saying, “we do not believe it to be a helpful or productive process.” He acknowledged the intention of the Accountability Committee to improve the survey for future use.
Regarding the Accountability Committee, the council approved a motion to amend their terms of reference on the grounds that the nature of the survey publicly degrades Councillors and Officers rather than holding them accountable. The proposed that amendments are meant to hold Councillors and Officers accountable in a “fairer and more equitable manner.” Amendments included raising certain accountability issues privately, rather than publicly, with the individuals in question and presenting a report at the end of each semester to the Legislative Council and Board of Directors on complaints received and how they were handled.
The council held a question and debate period for Senator Bryan Buraga’s proposed motion from November 15 regarding amendments to the accountability committee’s terms of reference. The motion outlined the ways in which members could process freedom of information requests, as there were previously no such guidelines in place within SSMU’s by-laws. The motion was committed, meaning that it has been placed in committee and will be subject to an official vote at a later date.
Next, the council approved a motion regarding SSMU’s position on gun control in Canada. The motion requests that “SSMU communicate this position to the Member of Parliament for Ville-Marie, Le Sud-Ouest, Île-des-Sœurs, and to the Minister of Public Safety of Canada” and that SSMU “make specific and concerted efforts to push for better gun control,” such as making public statements on the SSMU Facebook Page and advocating for Canadian Senators to support Bill C-71.
Question and debate period on the motion regarding amendments to the policy on support for family care has been postponed for next semester, on January 10th, 2019.