CSU Calls For Resignation of Two VPs

Lauzon and Toto Must Abdicate or Face Impeachment

CSU VP External Simon-Pierre Lauzon along with VP Finance Keny Toto were asked to step down in a vote at last night’s council meeting. Photo Sam Slotnick

With less than two months left in their mandate, the Concordia Student Union requested the resignation of two of its executives at Wednesday’s council meeting.

CSU VP External Simon-Pierre Lauzon and VP Finance Keny Toto were asked to resign after an extra $19,100 was allocated from union funds to the Arts and Science Federation of Associations’ ASFA Talks 2013 speaker series. The funds were used to help secure Jeff Rubin, the former chief economist at CIBC World Markets, as a keynote speaker.

The event cost a total of $30,000, while only $10,900 was earmarked for the one-evening, five-hour event in ASFA’s budget.

This leaves the CSU executive with four resignations within their term, VP Academic and Advocacy Lucia Gallardo and President Schubert Laforest having left earlier this year.

According to Chad Walcott, who put forward the original motion to ask for the resignations of the two VPs, ticket sales provided by ASFA placed attendance at the speaker series at 47, pricing the event at around $638 per student. Tickets were priced at $5 for students and $10 for non-students.

While he admitted in his executive report that ticket sales were lower than expected, Lauzon told council that free events and a gala organized as part of ASFA Talks had around 150 people in attendance. That assertion was also made by outgoing ASFA President Caroline Bourbonnière, who currently sits as an arts and science councillor and will be taking up the CSU VP External portfolio in June.

According to Lauzon, contracts were signed in January after consulting with Toto and then-CSU President Laforest.

But a tweet from Laforest during session denied this conversation ever took place.

Council members critical of Lauzon said he was unable to sign off on any contracts anyway because he is not authorized as a signing officer.

CSU standing regulations require all transactions over $10,000 to be approved by the union’s financial committee, except in “emergency circumstances,” in which case regulation 82 allows the president and two of the authorized signing officers on the project to approve and sign off on cheques, contracts and other agreements.

Both Toto and Lauzon said the situation was considered an emergency, but others on council dismissed the assertion.

“These are not reasons, these are not excuses and these are not things that a person doing their job […] would have done,” said councilor Gonzo Nieto.

Lauzon also maintained that at the time, he believed he had the authority to sign off on the additional funds for the event—though he admits he did not check CSU bylaws or standing regulations for himself to be sure.

That wasn’t enough for incoming CSU VP Academic Gene Morrow.

“I think you failed in due diligence,” he stated bluntly, though he added he did not think it was done maliciously, but out of a lack of oversight.

A tense council immediately broke for a breather after the vote.

Neither Toto nor Lauzon ever returned once the session resumed.

They won’t necessarily have to give up their executive seats, though.

CSU Chair Jean-François Ouellet told The Link that the two executives are free to comply with the motion and resign, but that there is more to the process of removing an executive.

Going forward, CSU bylaw 10.3 requires council to present their vote in writing with an official notice having to be delivered to the president within 10 days. It must be signed by at least 10 councillors to be considered valid—and in Lauzon’s case, only seven voted in favour of asking him to resign.

A special council meeting will then be called for councillors to vote on actually removing either candidate.

In his closing remarks, month-old CSU President Andrew Roberts decried council’s decision.

“I don’t know if it was fully realized how much work and how much those people were depended on for their positions,” he said.

“I’ve been working with Simon-Pierre on a bunch of projects and this is highly problematic on things I am trying to face, so I think we all need to be aware of the gravity of what just went down.”

Roberts also added he would understand if neither Toto nor Lauzon would help transition to the next VP Finance and VP External executives.

“If I was forced to resign from a position, I don’t think I would particularly want to stick around and help out,” he admitted.

“If they are forced to or are asked to resign or if it just happens, I don’t know how solid they’re going to want to stick around to do some training, I can’t imagine their sentiments are going to be very strong to stay and train people.”

The current crop of CSU executives and councillors hold office until the end of May.

In a previous version of this article, Gene Morrow was wrongly identified as a current CSU councillor and CSU chairperson Jean-François Ouellet was misquoted stating that Lauzon and Toto had 10 days to convince 10 councillors to sign a motion to keep their positions. The Link regrets the error.