SSMU’s Legislative Council votes to condemn proposed Quebec LNG project

The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) held its third legislative council meeting of the semester on Oct. 8, approving several questions for the upcoming Fall 2020 Referendum.

At the start of the meeting, the council returned to discussing amendments to the motion to Ensure Equitable Communications from the previous legislative council meeting, and approved the motion with 22 in favour, one opposed and three abstaining. The motion reinforces SSMU’s commitment to equitable communication practices.

Brooklyn Frizzle, Vice-President (VP) University Affairs, then proposed a motion to condemn the GNL Québec-Gazoduq Énergie Saguenay Project. The project seeks to export gas retrieved through hydraulic fracturing by building a 782-kilometer natural gas pipeline between northeastern Ontario and Port Saguenay, develop a liquified natural gas (LNG) plant to process the gas, and allow LNG tankers to cross Saguenay Fjord and the St. Lawrence River. Frizzle claimed that the project counters SSMU’s position on the environment and sustainability

“This project is expected to increase our gas emissions by 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, [and] furthermore, endangers riverside communities through the […] danger of oil spills,” Frizzle said. “This motion is well within the mandate of our sustainability policy, which mandates us to advocate against the increase in quantity or infrastructure regarding extraction and exploration.”

Following the question period, the council approved the motion to denounce the project. 

The council also approved a motion calling for a question on renewing the opt-outable SSMU Ambassador Fee of $2.00 per term until Fall 2025 to appear on the Fall 2020 referendum ballot. Twenty councillors voted in favour for a motion supporting a question on the fee, which is used to support organizations that represent McGill at external conferences.

VP Student Life Maheen Akter moved to renew the mental health fee until Fall 2023. The council approved to have the motion appear as a question on the Fall 2020 referendum with unanimous consent. Akter also motioned to increase the mental health fee by $1.26, from $0.40 to $1.66, explaining that the funds would go towards implementing a centralized, accessible online software to support student wellbeing. 

“McGill should be paying for this. We shouldn’t be charging our students any fees ultimately, but we’re [not in that] sort of situation,” Adam Gwiazda-Amsel, representative for the Francophone Affairs Commission, said.

Moment of the meeting:

In their report to council, SSMU VP University Affairs Brooklyn Frizzle provided an update on their plan to enable Councillors to be remunerated for their work. While Frizzle had planned to put forth a referendum question on the matter this semester, they said that it is likely that the issue will go to vote in the next semester to make time for more consultation. 

Soundbite:

“And so the intention behind [the Motion Regarding the SSMU Daycare Fee] is because in the past few years the SSMU daycare has been running, almost at a deficit, due to various reasons related to staffing changes that have happened in the past year, as well as the need for greater operational capacity. Additionally, in the future we intend to expand [services] because of the extremely high demand for places in the SSMU daycare and the SSMU nursery. Hopefully [the fee renewal] will enable us in the next few years to engage in greater expansion and especially now that [the SSMU has] a general manager, too. I believe that it’s extremely helpful for us to have this extra money in order to expand our capacity, provide for more student parents, and just generally to serve our population better.” –  Maheen Akter VP Student Life on the Motion Regarding the SSMU Daycare Fee

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