University of Toronto at Mississauga Students for Life (SFL) was given club recognition by the student union, UTMSU.
SFL sent UTMSU the required application for club re-recognition.
SFL received an email from Mr. Russ Adade, UTMSU’s VP Campus Life. Mr. Adade informed SFL that he, the chair of the Clubs Committee, had denied their application for club recognition because, he alleged, SFL’s mandate was in direct conflict with the mission statement of UTMSU. No further explanation or details were provided. Mr. Adade indicated that the Decision had been ratified by the UTMSU Board of Directors, but that a request could be made to have the Board re-vote on the application.
September 1, 4, 10 and 21
SFL emailed Mr. Adade, requesting that he explain to SFL what in their club mandate was in conflict with UTMSU’s mission statement.
Mr. Adade replies to the SFL: “you are telling folks especially women what to do with their bodies.” Mr. Adade continued by explaining that “you folks can’t put them down for making a decision that doesn’t fit with your mandate.”
Mr. Adade did not provide any examples of SFL “telling folks, especially women what to do with their bodies” or “put[ting] them down”. Mr. Adade once again informed SFL that they could request that the Board of Directors re-vote on the Decision.
September 29 and October 13
SFL asked UTMSU Vice President Internal, Francesco Otello-DeLuca, to inform them of the date of the next UTMSU Board meeting, so SFL could appeal the Decision.
Counsel for SFL sent a letter to UTMSU’s Board of Directors urging the Board to reverse the Decision.
Mr. Adade sent an email to SFL inviting two of their student representatives to attend a meeting of the Clubs Committee, which the UTMSU had designated to hear SFL’s appeal of the Decision.
SFL responded, indicating that SFL was willing to meet with the Clubs Committee, but explaining that it maintained its legitimate expectation and right to have the UTMSU Board of Directors decide the appeal of the Decision.
Mr. Adade sent SFL an additional email citing technical violations in SFL’s constitution of UTMSU requirements, and stating:
“The reasoning behind the decision of the clubs committee to revoke club status for your club is due to the violations and discrepancies we found within your constitution in relation to the clubs handbook and UTMSU operational policy as it pertains to clubs”
This is contrary to previous communications, in which Mr. Adade had stated that SFL’s denial of club status was based on SFL’s opinion about abortion. UTMSU had not previously notified SFL that there were any problems with SFL’s constitution, which UTMSU had approved in 2014.
SFL members conducted a meeting and passed motions making eight amendments to their constitution. That same day, they forwarded a copy of their amended constitution to Mr. Adade.
SFL met with the UTMSU Clubs Committee and explained why the Decision violated their rights and UTMSU’s own policies. The Clubs Committee did not dispute that the basis of the Decision was SFL’s beliefs and viewpoint. However, the Clubs Committee refused to consider SFL’s presentation on why the Decision was wrong. Instead, the Clubs Committee ordered that SFL elect a fourth (additional) executive member and then have the four SFL executives ratify the amendments previously made to SFL’s constitution.
SFL agreed to hold another meeting and add a fourth executive and ratify the amendments. SFL also agreed to have a UTMSU representative present at the SFL meeting, as requested by the Clubs Committee.
SFL held the meeting and Mr. Adade was also present. Before the meeting started however, five other individuals entered the meeting room: Salma Fakhry (Associate to UTMSU Vice President University Affairs and Academics), Taman Khalaf, Ariana Serapigia, Hashim Yussuf (Associate to Vice President University Affairs and Academics) and Nyasha Chikowore (collectively the “Non-members”). The Non-members were not members or supporters of SFL, and had never been involved with SFL previously.
SFL had given notice of the November 23 meeting by email to all the club members on its own list. Beyond this list of SFL voting members, the only other person who was informed of the time and location of the November 23 meeting was Mr. Adade. The Non-members indicated that Mr. Adade had invited them to attend the meeting.
At the meeting, a fourth SFL member was nominated to the club’s executive. The vote was taken by secret ballot. Mr. Adade did not vote. Although they were not voting members of SFL and did not ask to become members of SFL, Mr. Adade permitted the Non-members to participate in the vote. The result was that the motion to elect the required fourth executive was defeated by a vote of 5-4.
Counsel for SFL sent another letter to the UTMSU Board of Directors, setting out Mr. Adade’s bad faith abuse of process.The letter requested that the Board exercise its responsibility and its authority to stop the violations of SFL’s legal rights and to correct the Decision, and that the Board do so on or before November 30, 2015.
The Board has not responded to counsel’s October 19 or November 24 letters.
Mr. Adade sent SFL an email that entirely ignored counsel’s November 24 letter, admonishing SFL for not having more of its members attend the November 23 meeting. On behalf of the Clubs Committee, Mr. Adade advised SFL that they would have to attempt to elect a fourth executive once again, and go through the very same process that Mr. Adade and the Non-members had thwarted on November 23.
Counsel for SFL advised the UTMSU Board of Directors and the UTMSU Executive in an email that, given the abuse of process, bad faith and unresponsiveness described above, SFL had no choice but to commence a court action against UTMSU to defend SFL’s legal rights. UTMSU has not responded.