News briefs


SUB and pub referendum question passes

On Nov. 29, the UVSS asked students to vote in a referendum on the following question:

“Do you support establishing a dedicated fee for the purpose of renovating Felicita’s Campus Pub and the Student Union Building in the amount of $5.00 per full-time student per semester and $2.50 per part-time student per semester, beginning May 2013 and ending April 2018?”

UVic’s WebVote results page reports that 52 per cent of votes were in favour. Fifty per cent in favour was required for the fee establishment to pass. Out of 16 681 eligible voters, the results page shows 3  522 students cast votes for a 21 per cent voter turnout.

> Shandi Shiach


NDP’s Murray Rankin wins Victoria byelection 

With environmental lawyer Murray Rankin’s victory in the byelection on Nov. 26, the NDP managed to hold onto their Victoria seat in Ottawa. Rankin defeated Green candidate Donald Galloway by 1 151 votes, pulling in 37.2 per cent of votes to Galloway’s 34.3 per cent after trading the lead late in the vote count.

Rankin’s platform focused heavily on environmental issues: climate change, environmental laws and opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Rankin was the only candidate to support the $800-million sewage treatment plant planned for Victoria, one of the campaign’s more hotly contested topics.

On how to create jobs for young Canadians, Rankin said at a Nov. 7 candidates’ debate that he believed sustained public investment is the answer to youth unemployment.

“The solution in part is to get the federal government more engaged in post-secondary education, grants and loans to students. They’ve cut back on the Canada social transfer, of which those monies are a part, year after year, so it is no surprise those problems are occurring,” said Rankin. “Training, better assistance with federal government through post-secondary transfer, greater co-ordination of our provincial governments and the universities . . . we need to work together for a better jobs plan for our youth.”

Dale Gann for the Conservatives placed third with 14.4 per cent of votes, and Liberal Paul Summerville finished close behind with 13.2 per cent of votes.

Victoria’s voter turnout was 43.9 per cent of eligible voters, the highest of the three byelections held in concert across Canada on Nov. 26 (Calgary, AB, saw 29.4 per cent voter turnout, and Durham, ON, saw 35.8 per cent). Conservative members won both Calgary and Durham ridings.

> Vanessa Hawk and Stuart Armstrong


Two more unions reach agreements with UVic 

On Nov. 27, the B.C. government announced that agreements had been reached between UVic and two unions: the Professional Employees Association (PEA) and CUPE Local 4163 (components one and two).

The PEA, which represents approximately 950 non-faculty staff such as counsellors and system analysts, reached a two-year settlement that includes two per cent wage increases each year.

The two CUPE 4163 components, which represent approximately 1 500 employees (including teaching assistants and computer lab assistants), will not receive wage increases for the first two years of the four-year agreement. The agreement is retroactive to 2010. Component one will receive one per cent wage increases four times during the last two years of the agreement, while component two will receive two per cent increases twice during the same time period.

“We’re not ecstatic over the two and two, but we’re happy we’re able to get something for our members,” says CUPE 4163 president Greg Melnechuk. “I think it’s as fair as the university was allowed to give us, and the key word there is ‘allowed,’ because this was quite a frustrating round of bargaining because of the Liberal government’s interference.”

Melnechuk says the government’s Co-operative Gains Mandate, which states that public sector employers may negotiate “modest wage increases funded from savings within existing budgets,” tied the university’s hands. Because UVic had to consult with the Public Sector Employers’ Council (the middleman between the government and the university) every step of the way, he says the process was unusually slow.

“We have seen this in the last two rounds, but this time it seemed like the iron fist was there and that the government was not going to be flexible at all, even when the employers might have been able to,” says Melnechuk.

Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology John Yap said in a press release, “These agreements show that the Co-operative Gains Mandate is working.”

UVic is still bargaining with CUPE 4163 component three, which represents staff such as sessional instructors and music performance instructors. The university and the UVic Faculty Association have called in a mediator to assist with language in their Framework Agreement and are waiting to hear back from the mediator.

> Vanessa Annand


Political clubs deterred from election campaigning in residences due to concerns with safety, theft

During the recent byelection in Victoria, two UVic clubs representing political parties were asked to leave residence buildings while distributing information about voting and their candidates. The UVic Greens club was not aware of policies regarding access to residence buildings and did not contact Residence Services in advance, as required by the office.

As a result, UVic clubs for the Green and Liberal parties are calling for Residence Services to clarify policies regarding access for non-resident groups with attention to election campaigning.

“[Residence Services] really restricted our ability to pass along information while [giving] no information themselves, really,” says Evan Pivnick from the UVic Greens club. “There weren’t a lot of emails. There wasn’t a lot of information.”

Kathryn MacLeod, the director of Residence Services, says that student staff members were updated on voting procedures in order to pass on this information to residents.

Elections Canada permits canvassers entry to multiple-residence buildings; in campus residences, this is restricted to common areas such as building lobbies. Residence Services does not allow non-residents into buildings due to issues with safety and theft of personal property. However, groups are permitted access to common areas of the buildings and poster boards for partisan and non-partisan materials provided they have contacted the office beforehand.

“I would like to see the university develop that clearer policy,” says Pivnick. “Absolutely I should have opened that dialogue [with Residence Services], but there should also be information easily accessible in terms of what role campus clubs, particularly when they’re for political parties, actually play on campus. Especially in light of a provincial election that’s going to be happening next semester, it seems that it is somewhat time-sensitive.”

Residence Services has confirmed that it is creating a formal policy for non-resident groups that is more accessible and encourages informed political engagement among students living on campus.

> Vanessa Hawk