On Sept. 15, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council held its first meeting of the semester, with several speeches, extensive debate, and confusing points. Council passed five motions, including the Motion of the Adoption of the Standing Rules, the creation of an Ad Hoc Equitable Governance Reform Committee, the repeal of the Accountable Leadership Policy, the creation of an Ad-Hoc Provincial Representation Committee, as well as a motion to amend the Committee Terms of Reference.
Motion of the adoption of standing rules
The Standing Rules underwent debate regarding matters of phrasing. Amendments were made to the motion by Joshua Chin, one of the Senate Caucus Representatives.
“I realize that starting this year, the Board of Directors has a somewhat expanded or more significant role in the passing [and] execution of motions, [and I was] wondering if it was possible to add something to the effect of ‘If any motions we pass eventually get repealed or significantly amended at the Board of Directors, that [action] be communicated to us at a later meeting,’” Chin said.
Igor Sadikov, Arts Councillor, argued for the use of microphones during the council session whenever possible.
“Outside of in camera or confidential sessions, the members must use the microphone to speak whenever possible, to motivate this for reasons of accessibility for Councillors and members of the gallery,” Sadikov said.
When a motion to vote on the amendment was introduced, Sadikov questioned how voting could happen without the adoption of the Standing Rules, leading to some confusion in the Council. The Standing Rules were adopted unanimously at the end of the debate.
Motion regarding the creation of an ad-hoc committee on equitable governance
Leslie Anne St. Amour, the 2015-2016 SSMU Indigenous Affairs Coordinator, presented a report for more equitable representation on the Council. Two recommendations proposed in the report were the creation of a seat reserved for indigenous students on the Council, as well as the creation of equity seats on the SSMU Board of Directors. St. Amour spoke to Council on the importance of the suggestions made in the report.
“SSMU has made a commitment to social justice and equity and that it is important to have that reflected in our government structures, taking into account the historical and systemic barriers that were put into place to be part of governing structures like the SSMU,” St. Amour said.
The motion proposed the creation of an ad hoc committee to investigate the benefits of such suggestions, and was accepted.
Motion regarding the Accountable Leadership Policy
Services Representative Kahli-Ann Douglas presented the Motion Regarding the Accountable Leadership Policy. The Accountable Leadership Policy had created an Accountability Committee tasked with holding executive members to their obligations as stated in the SSMU constitution. Referencing past examples of the ineffectiveness of the Accountable Leadership Policy, SSMU Vice-President of University Affairs Erin Sobat argued that the scope and authority of the Accountability Committee was either too vague or too specific.
“All the important provisions in this policy are or will be contained elsewhere [….] Historically, the Accountability Committee has not been the most effective committee,” Sobat said.
Similar sentiments were echoed by members of the Council.
"I believe this is a step in the right direction," said Clubs and Services Councillor Adam Templer.
After debate on the motion, the Accountable Leadership Policy was repealed.
A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the Ad hoc Equitable Governance Reform Committee as the Ad hoc Committee on Equitable Governance. In addition, a previous version of this article stated that Leslie Anne St. Amour proposed the creation of a seat designated for the Indigenous Student Alliance (ISA). In fact, she proposed the creation of a seat reserved for indigenous students. Finally, a previous version of this article indicated that the Motion Regarding the Future of the Accountable Leadership Policy was moved by SSMU VP University Affairs Erin Sobat. In fact, Sobat stood to motivate the motion which was originally moved by Services Representative Kahli-Ann Douglas. The Tribune regrets these errors.
The Tribune would like to clarify that the creation of the Ad hoc Equitable Governance Reform Committee was the result of a motion presented to council, and not the result of the report presented by Leslie Anne St. Amour at Council. The Tribune would also like to clarify that the Accountable Leadership Policy was repealed to remove duplication between the Committee Terms of Reference and the Policy and Plan Book.