On March 10, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council met to discuss Committee Terms of Reference and a motion to oppose Bill 56.
Opposition to Bill 56
In June 2015, Bill 56, the Lobbying Transparency Act, was introduced to the National Assembly of Quebec to replace an older bill governing lobbying activity. The new bill extends the definition of a “lobbyist” to include any director, officer, or employee of a non-profit group who lobbies on behalf of the non-profit.
This extended definition would encompass SSMU, meaning that SSMU would be required to register its staff as lobbyists.
“This motion changes what it means to be a lobbyist.”
Council adopted a motion to object to this change of definition. According to this motion, “through the office of the VP External, [SSMU will] prepare a memorandum detailing its opposition to the inclusion of non-profits and community organizations in the Bill for presentation at any parliamentary commission on this issue.”
“This motion changes what it means to be a lobbyist,” said Environment Representative Chelsea Kingzett. “It makes it much more difficult for groups to lobby the government.”
Withdrawing from U15 lobbying
VP External Emily Boytinck has been informally meeting with undergraduate student union representatives from the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities (U15). They have formed a coalition lobbying the federal government for, among other things, the Canada student loans program and the advancement of international students’ interests.
U15 is a group of 15 Canadian public research universities which represents its members’ interests at the provincial and federal levels.
Boytinck mentioned her discomfort with the inefficacy and the informal nature of the coalition and noted her decision to end SSMU’s involvement with the group.
“People are advocating for predictable tuition growth but that is not SSMU’s position, whether predictable or not.”
“I just think that the informal nature […] doesn’t work. Their research briefs are not prepared in the slightest,” Boytinck said. “People are advocating for predictable tuition growth but that is not SSMU’s position, whether predictable or not.”
The coalition has been meeting via Skype and is planning a meeting in Ottawa in three weeks, which Boytinck says she will not be attending.
Stalled Sexual Assault Policy negotiations
President Kareem Ibrahim mentioned that negotiations with the administration regarding the Sexual Assault Policy (SAP) may not be completed during this academic year.
“But we are confident now that from this point, negotiations have become more consensus-based than previously, so hopefully we can pass the policy this semester.”
“We’ve been stalled numerous times and it is a pretty frustrating process,” said Ibrahim. “But we are confident now that from this point, negotiations have become more consensus-based than previously, so hopefully we can pass the policy this semester.”