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Briefing: Everything IGNITE since September

100 words, 700 words and point-form.

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Graphic by The Avro Post.

BRIEFING

Welcome to the Briefing, a new type of article that breaks down a story into a 100 word version, a 700 full-length edition and a point form analysis.

This Briefing is on everything going on with the governance of IGNITE, the student union for Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber, since the beginning of the student year.


100 words

IGNITE is looking to make several changes to how the student union works. 

All of these changes will need majority approval from students at a January Special Meeting of the Members. They were previously approved by the Board of Directors in September.

The proposed bylaw amendments give the Board more unilateral power and end president and vice president elections.

The Board has been hiding the location of their meetings, breaking its own bylaws that specify that exact times and locations are to be posted publicly.

IGNITE recently cut off The Avro Post from press briefings, interviews and all media requests.


700 words

IGNITE has proposed several bylaw amendments to how its governance and operations function. Some of these changes have precedent elsewhere but many are uncommon for a student union.

All of these changes will need majority approval from students at a January Special Meeting of the Members, a meeting that any student can attend and have a vote on the changes as a unified package, but not individual amendments.

These amendments were previously approved by the Board of Directors in September. The meeting minutes only give the “highlights” of the amendments so it may not be all of the proposed changes, however.

The most outwardly noticeable change for students at Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber will be the end of executive elections.

The executive team is made up of the president, who represents all IGNITE members and each vice president, each representing either North Campus, Lakeshore or Guelph-Humber.

Another change that the Board wants to bring about is the ability for their decisions to come into effect immediately after majority approval at a meeting. However, an item approved will still need later approval at a meeting of the members.

If the members — all voting students — vote against the changes at the Special Meeting of the Members, it is unclear if the decision is applied retroactively or if the Board’s decision is simply repealed from the bylaws. 

Also, if students are unable to find the Board meetings and minutes are only posted a month later after they are approved at the next Board meeting, students would be unaware for at least 30 days that a bylaw had changed.

The Board did not post the meeting minutes from the May or September meetings until long after the October Board meeting, which, despite efforts from The Avro Post to find it, was hidden.

If The Post was able to enter the Board meeting in September instead of being told to leave in a unilateral move by a staff member, then this publication would have been able to report that these bylaws were passed by the directors.

There were some new items also passed by the Board and up for consideration by students in January including, but not limited to, new classifications of IGNITE membership, document execution being under the control of the executive director and a vaguely worded amendment specifying that “president term will be used for [B]oard chairperson”.

The new classifications come about because of the Student Choice Initiative and was expected. 

The top classification is “Full-Time Enhanced Members”, which appear to be those that opt-in to IGNITE fees, though there is no specification for those that only opt-in to some. 

“Full-Time Members” and “Part-Time Members” are those who pay only the mandatory ancillary fees. All three classifications are official members of IGNITE and so it is understood they will be able to still vote in elections and at special meetings.

It is unclear exactly what “executive documents being overseen by the executive director” means as an amendment but The Avro Post has reached out for comment from IGNITE for clarification.

Another hard-to-understand change is the “president term” being used for the Board chairperson. It is not clear via the meeting minutes whether that means the president’s term in regards to time or the terminology of “president” being applied to the chairperson.

Currently, the Board directors start and end their term at the same time as the executives so it would seem unusual for new amendments to specify that just the chair would have the same term timewise as the president.

It seems more likely that the chairperson position itself could be renamed to “president” to signify the Board’s importance from the student perspective, a goal that Executive Director Ercole Perrone and other officials have said they have committed to in the coming months.

These items will be flushed out in more detail at the Special Meeting of the Member and potentially press briefings that The Post will no longer have access to due to being cut off by IGNITE on Oct. 15 from press briefings, elected student representatives and all other media requests.

President Monica Khosla explained the main reason for this was because The Post inaccurately reported that the executive director, Perrone, said that IGNITE eventually wants to cut Board of Directors meetings off entirely from students that are members.

The Avro Post stands by the reporting as accurate. However, there is no plan in place at this time in the set of bylaw amendments headed to the special meeting in January to enact such a change.


Point analysis

Various points on the incoming bylaws:

  • Unilateral Board decisions: Also not unprecedented and appears to be utilized by other student unions. However, an ex-president of another student union said that changing bylaws are typically a move ratified by an AGM.
    • To note: Amendments will still be ratified by a meeting of the members — which are all students — with this proposal.

All these changes will be passed or not passed at a Special Meeting of the Members expected for mid- to late-January. If they are passed, they will come into effect, likely immediately.

If not, it is unclear if there will be need to be urgent Board action to come up with new proposals for the Annual General Meeting usually held near the end of the winter semester. ■

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Analysis

Federal race tight entering the final week of the campaign

A breakdown heading into the final week.

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File photo via Pexels.

ANALYSIS

With the Canadian federal election just over a week away, voters have now had a month to observe the campaign trails and familiarize themselves with this electoral seasons batch of potential leaders of the nation.

If you’re like me, you would have begun evaluating your options much earlier due to the tense nature of the political sphere and pressing issues of our modern world.

Early voting has already taken place on campuses across the country since Oct. 5, and the last day to vote will be on election day, Oct. 21.

The last election took place in 2015, where Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party won 54 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons. Representing Canada during the past four years, national and global politics has become very divisive.

The Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party have elected new leaders in Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh respectively, in hopes to overtake Trudeau’s Liberals in this year’s election.

New entries also include the Bloc Quebecois current leader Yves-François Blanchet, and the newly formed People’s Party of Canada governed by former conservative Maxime Bernier. The Green Party is sticking with Elizabeth May who has been serving as leader since 2006.

But for now, let’s focus on the parties that are expected to obtain the most seats in this election: the Liberals, the Conservatives and the New Democrats.

It’s always easy to scrutinize the sitting party as their decisions, mistakes and dishonesty will undoubtedly receive national attention — and Trudeau has faced his attacks from both sides of the political spectrum.

From unpopular decisions such as the small business tax changes, scandals such as the SNC Lavalin affair, and criticism of his inability to take responsibility for his actions, all competing parties are hoping to pounce on this opportunity to win seats.

The Conservatives are expected to be the biggest competitor with new CBC polls giving them a slight edge of 140 seats to the Liberals 135 seats which wouldn’t constitute a majority but indicates a growth in opposing ideology.

This may also be attributed to the rise of Jagmeet Singh and the NDP who gained points on social media after his performance at the english language debates last week.

With the divisive nature of politics right now, the NDP and Conservatives may both steal seats from the Liberals as they are more pulled towards different sides of the “left vs. right” political spectrum.

Trudeau often points to Doug Ford and his unpopularity as premier of Ontario to deter voters from voting Conservative, while acknowledging that the rise in NDP popularity will make it easier for the Tories to win, stating “the only way to stop Conservative cuts is to vote Liberal.”

Things have been heating up during the campaigns, with a CBC analysis of press releases and tweets showing an increase in negative attacks from the Liberals, NDP, and Green Party.

This doesn’t quite match the data on the Conservative party that has put out the highest volume of negative attacks since the start of their campaign.

The Liberals are usually at the centre of the attacks, according to the CBC analysis, with the Conservatives pressing on taxes and affordability while the NDP, and Green Party are targeting the liberals environmental record. 

The Bloc Quebecois also seem to be playing a role as their polls in Quebec last week reached 27 per cent while Liberal support in Quebec dropped from 36 per cent in 2015 to under 34 per cent.

Though, the Conservatives aren’t immune to the division of votes as the PPC are expected to steal seats from the Conservatives. This is the first time a party with a more conservative ideology has entered the picture.

The numbers show a tight race but only election day will reveal who will form government and who could potentially hold the “balance of power”. ■

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Analysis

Conservative government likely as NDP rises: Polls

The Liberals aim to hang on.

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File photo.

ANALYSIS

The Conservative Party moved ahead of the Liberals to take first place in terms of seat projection on Saturday, as the New Democratic Party rose to nearly 20 per cent in some polls — setting up the Tories for a likely minority government.

Jagmeet Singh and his NDP saw a boost following the official Leaders’ Debates on Tuesday and Thursday. Though the amalgamated Poll Tracker by the CBC finds the Tories and Liberals essentially tied near 32 per cent, the New Democrats have risen to an overall 15.8 per cent.

Reports across the country indicate the “#SinghUpSwing” is more than a hashtag, including right by Humber College’s North Campus in the riding of Brampton East, where The Hill Times reports there could be a significant breakthrough for the New Democrats.

The Liberals have suffered two major political affairs in the past year: the fallout of putting pressure put on the ex-attorney general to defer prosecution on SNC-Lavalin and the “brownface” scandal. Despite this, they were poised to snap a minority government.

This week, however, with gains by the Bloc Québécois threatening the Liberal strongholds in Quebec, the New Democrats building momentum in Ontario and the Tories shoring up support out west, Justin Trudeau’s chances of remaining prime minister are dropping.

CBC Poll Tracker late evening on Oct. 12, 2019.

The CBC finds that there is a 43 per cent probability of the Tories under Andrew Scheer forming a minority government, over 34 per cent for the Liberals. However, the pollster that manages the tracker, Eric Grenier, finds that if there is to be a majority, the Liberals are more likely to win it.

A “majority government” means that a party or coalition of governing parties hold an absolute majority of seats in the House of Commons and the leader of that party or coalition of parties is the prime minister. A coalition is when multiple parties team up to form a government.

If there is a minority government, then there could be a party or parties that hold what is known as the “balance of power”. This could mean a certain party joins in a coalition with another party or parties and votes with them or informally supports their government.

If the Conservatives win a minority, currently the most likely outcome of the Oct. 21 federal election, then the other parties could form a coalition to form a majority government and throw the Tories out of government. On the other hand, a party could join the Tories to create an absolute majority.

All these factors together with the unpredictability of the first-past-the-post parliamentary system, the tight race of the polls and the general uncertainty that comes with a federal election means that the result is essentially up in the air at this time.

Advanced polling has begun. Oct. 21 is election day. ■

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Analysis

IGNITE’s changing relationship with student journalists

A breakdown of recent events.

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File photo.

ANALYSIS

IGNITE has been working to change its relationship with student journalists this fall by introducing a new way for reporters to request a comment or ask for an interview and have scheduled monthly press briefings.

The changes come as after the previous communications coordinator Peter Seney departed the student union with his replacement due to arrive after Thanksgiving.

During the Oct. 4 press briefing, the acting communications director told student journalists that they wanted to change how the relationship worked headed into the future.

Up until this point, the communications strategy of the student union was to largely ignore requests from The Avro Post. Even the student journalism’s newspaper, the Et Cetera, had issues in the past getting in contactt, according to two sources.

As pressure was mounting from the provincially mandated Student Choice Initiative, the dynamic changed. The Avro Post for the first time was invited into the North Campus offices to learn more about IGNITE’s plan for optional student fees.

There were two meetings in April. The Post’s Melissa Lopez and Arnold Samson were given access to Executive Director Ercolé Perrone that gave insight into how the student union was tackling the SCI.

After that, there were not many responses until August when a third Post reporter was allowed inside the offices for another interview with Perrone, where he gave more details on the student union’s finances and how North’s new Vice President Shay Hamilton was hired.

An analysis even found that IGNITE appeared to be changing their transparency policies to be more open. That was true until the night of Sept. 11, when a Post journalist was not allowed into a Board of Directors meeting, sparking a series of events that led to where we are now.

During that Board meeting, IGNITE posted a new policy on its Governance webpage, saying that only Board directors have “a right” to be at the meetings under provincial law.

While it was a legally sound statement, there was backlash over the ethics of cutting off students, which is what the statement appeared to indicate as it said students needed special permission from the executive director.

During the Oct. 4 press briefing, officials said the online policy had to be updated to reflect what the actual rules were. Perrone clarified that students could still go to the meetings but that student journalists would likely not be allowed in.

Perrone explained that Board directors could ask students to leave. The Post attempted to find the Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday evening but was unsuccessful as it was not held on the sixth floor of the Learning Resource Commons, where it was before.

IGNITE has removed the meeting time and locations from its Governance page. Thus, it is unclear how interested students are able to go without contacting the student union, which is the policy online that Perrone said is not accurate.

The Avro Post has reached out for comment regarding the times and locations of the Board meetings. Due to a web archive service, the last confirmed date that all the locations were posted online was Aug. 14.

At the time, the Wednesday meeting location was still “to be determined”, though most of the other meetings had locations set already for the upcoming academic year.

IGNITE has become faster at responding to requests since the Oct. 4 press briefing. The Avro Post will be conducting an interview next week, a result of a request made through the media form online.

However, it is unclear at this point what the future of the relationship will look like. Will reporters be allowed to ask any questions during press briefings or will the topics be controlled? What can be expected? ■

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