News  PGSS talks provincial elections, strike, and academic year

Members call for student striker amnesty

The Post Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) met for the third time this academic year to discuss a number of issues relating to the Society, including the recent provincial elections, the approval of the Executive Workplan, and strike bylaws.

Regarding the election of the Parti Québécois (PQ) to a minority provincial government on September 4, council members entered a Committee of the Whole for ten minutes to discuss the impact of a new provincial government for PGSS.

After the discussion, a motion was amended and approved to mandate that PGSS “develop a local education summit here at McGill,” and “advocate for amnesty for students who were charged with disciplinary offences by their university related to non-violent political activity during the student movement.”

PGSS Secretary-General Jonathan Mooney later brought forward an emergency motion, which was passed to mandate for PGSS to support the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ) in pursuing a policy of cooperation, rather than antagonization, toward other student federations.

Mooney explained that as a member of FEUQ, PGSS has to advocate the direction of policies it would like to see the Federation take.

Council members also voted unanimously to approve a motion regarding Law 12, which stated that “PGSS draw attention to the undermining of civil liberty and the subversion of the principle of civil liability inherent in Law 12.”

Law 12, previously known as Bill 78, was passed as an emergency law on May 18 by the National Assembly of Quebec. The Law restricted protest activities on or near university grounds, and further required that organized protests of fifty or more people in a public space anywhere in Quebec submit their routes to the police for approval.

Speaking in favour of the motion, Mooney explained that although Law 12 was likely to be repealed by the current provincial government, “it is not okay that it was made in the first place.”

Hasan Nikopour Deilami of the Faculty of Engineering also brought forward a motion for the PGSS to create an electronic referendum in which all members can vote online whether to declare a strike. The motion was voted down.

In March, PGSS voted in overwhelming favour of a three-day strike in support of the Quebec student movement against tuition hikes. The strike, which took place from March 20 to 22, was voted on in a General Assembly (GA) on March 7.

PGSS Equity Commissioner Gretchen King spoke against the motion, stating, “If we have something like the highest authority of PGSS being the GA, and in the process of the GA we have the right to strike votes, then it should be the GA… that has the right to decide how we are going to do that vote… I think it’s unfair to the GA and the democratic principles built up in this organization to take this away from the GA.”

Council members also voted to approve the Executive Workplan for the upcoming academic year. Some of the highlights of this year’s executive plan include addressing and researching the quality of graduate supervision, researching the effects of University-industry and University-community partnerships, improving the quality of representation on the PGSS’ committees and governance, participating in the reform of the Student Code of Conduct set to take place over the next few years, and increasing the sustainability of the Thomson House and PGSS practices.

Correction appended September 13. An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed Gretchen King’s statement to Alexandra Turnbull. The Daily regrets the error.