In a recent meeting of the Students’ Union’s judicial board, Students’ Council admitted it failed to provide a French translation of their bylaws and policies by their April 30, 2018 deadline.
The Discipline, Interpretation, and Enforcement (DIE) Board serves as the independent judicial branch of the Students’ Union, and is responsible for interpreting and enforcing SU bylaws. In a unanimous ruling delivered on June 19, the board’s panel found that council failed to provide a translation, as legislated in Bylaw 600, and that the board was free to order “any remedy it considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.”
However, the DIE board ordered council to have an initial translation performed by September 4, 2018.
According to the ruling by Associate Chief Tribune Landon Haynes, the DIE board could order a number of different remedies, ranging from trivial to extreme, with the most severe one being the “immediate disbandment of the entire Students’ Council”, with new elections being held immediately after to select new councillors.
Other possible remedies include ordering council to set up a separate bank account for translation services, or to order them to “send an email to all members of the Union advertising their failure to comply with Bylaw 600.”
However, Haynes’s ruling acknowledged that council could still ignore whatever remedy the DIE board orders.
“If Students’ Council decides to ignore orders of this Board, that is up to their contemptible conscience,” the ruling said. “In such situations, the power of enforcement naturally rests in democracy. It would be in the hands of the Union members to protest at the ballot box to remove a contemptible Students’ Council.”
Prior to the DIE board’s decision, council had planned to extend the deadline to April 30, 2019. However, the ruling deemed that a year-long extension would be unfair to the student body, and gave council until September to complete the initial translation.
“A further year to comply with Bylaw 600 would not be appropriate and would fly in the face of all Union members who have elected Students’ Council to fulfill their legislated mandate,” the ruling said.
The complaint against Students’ Council was initiated by Native Studies councillor Nathan Sunday earlier this month. Sunday said he submitted the complaint because he saw “little to no progress” in translating the SU’s policies and bylaws.
“I had little faith the translations would get done unless council is forced to do it,” he said. “And I don’t think its good governance to keep postponing the translation.”
While Sunday was not present during the ruling on July 19th, both Students’ Council Speaker Jonathan Barraclough and Students Union president Reed Larsen were in attendance to represent Students’ Council. Larsen said he “gave an admission of guilt” at the hearing, admitting that they failed to meet the deadline.
According to Larsen and the DIE board’s ruling, part of council’s failure to meet the deadline was due to the fact that the responsibility to translate the bylaws and policies into French fell onto three separate Students’ Union committees.
Moving ahead, Larsen said the SU plans to centralize the process, and that they will “absolutely” be able to meet the new September deadline.
“There was no follow through on translation, my guess likely being just because there were other priorities and some things just got left behind,” Larsen said. “It’s very unfortunate but we do have a plan in motion to make sure the translations get done right away.”
Since the ruling, Board of Governors Representative Levi Flaman submitted an appeal to the DIE board in order to overturn the decision.
Update (July 10, 5:22 p.m.): In a decision by acting Chief Tribune Karamveer Lalh, the DIE Board denied the appeal submitted by Board of Governors Representative Levi Flaman. The board stands by their original ruling.