KSA loses case against the Canadian Federation of Students

Judge rules that the KSA is still a member of federal lobbying organization


After several months, the verdict for the court case between the Canadian Federation of Students and the Kwantlen Student Association is in, and the judge ruled in favour of the CFS.

The KSA filed a petition to the court earlier this year, stating that on Feb. 6 the KSA’s membership in the CFS and CFS-Services was validly terminated.

In October 2014, the CFS amended their bylaws which define membership, changing it so that only student associations were considered members. Before the change, membership included the students themselves, as well as their associations.

In February of this year the KSA voted to end their membership in the CFS, a claim which the CFS refuted, leading to a protracted court case. The KSA believed that the amended bylaw meant that the CFS no longer had the legal basis to require Kwantlen students to pay individual membership fees, or vote in a referendum that decides whether or not the KSA remains a member of the CFS, when students themselves are no longer members in the eyes of the CFS.

One of the primary tasks set to Justice John Steeves, who presided over the case, was to determine whether or not the decision of the KSA to join the CFS back in 1981 was ultra vires—beyond their legal authority. He also sought to decide whether or not the bylaw amendment now made the KSA’s membership in the CFS ultra vires, and if the CFS’ bylaws require the KSA to collect membership fees from students on behalf of the CFS, even though the students are no longer direct members of the Federation.

On the issue of ultra vires, Justice Steeves determined that there was “nothing that is consistent with the KSA’s membership in the [CFS].” He believes that the KSA directors in 1981 made a good-faith decision to become members of the CFS, that was in-line with their bylaws at the time. He confirmed that in order to end their membership in the CFS, the KSA would have to follow the decertification procedures in place, which require a petition and referendum process.

He also declared that the CFS’s bylaw amendments in 2014 were made in good faith, “in response to legislative changes.”

On the issue of fees, he stated, “The evidence is that Kwantlen University ‘collects’ fees for the respondents. Further, there is no compulsion by the [CFS] on KSA to collect fees.” He has determined that the KSA collecting membership fees for the CFS is valid as per their bylaws and the University Act.

Justice Steeves also awarded the CFS ordinary costs from the KSA.