The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Legislative Council convened on Nov. 29 for their last meeting of 2018. They debated a new motion to support Bill C-71, which was introduced by Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to reduce gun violence across Canada. Chip Smith, a member of the Accountability Committee, also presented evaluations of the SSMU Executives and Councillors’ performances for the Fall 2018 semester.
Motion Regarding SSMU’s Position on Gun Control in Canada
The Liberal party of Canada is poised to pass Bill C-71, which is currently under review at the Canadian Senate. The bill will tighten laws on firearms by improving background checks and implementing mandatory record-keeping by firearms retailers. SSMU Vice-President (VP) Student Life Sophia Esterle had drafted a motion to endorse the bill and lobby Canadian Senators, Members of Parliament, and the Minister of Public Safety of Canada for better gun control. As Esterle was not present, however, Arts Representative Ana Paula Sánchez explained the motion to council.
“Essentially, what the motion is trying to do is have SSMU endorse [Bill C-71] and help in a letter-writing campaign to advocate for a national ban on civilian ownership of handguns,” Sánchez said.
Arts Representative Andrew Figueiredo argued during the debate period that banning handguns will not be the solution to gun violence.
“First of all, hand guns can be used for hunting […and], moreover, for self-protection,” Figueiredo said. “In rural areas, it takes up to 45 minutes for RCMP to actually get to your door [….] In the city of Toronto, 50 per cent of guns used illegally […] are imported from the United States. Maybe invest in border security, because, clearly, banning guns is not the solution in this case.”
Management Representative Brooke Callaghan was critical of Figueiredo’s argument.
“Any measures should […] be taken to prevent the use of guns in in any way, shape, or form in this country and in all countries,” Callaghan said. “Guns are used for violence, period. They are a killing machine […] Whether you are killing an animal or person, [guns are] meant to cause harm [to] another being.”
The motion was passed with 26 in favour, 2 opposed, and no abstentions.
Fall 2018 Accountability Committee Report
The Accountability Committee is mandated to ensure that Officers, Senators, Directors, and Councillors fulfill their obligations and responsibilities. In this semester’s assessment, the SSMU Executives collectively received a grade of ‘A’ or ‘A-’ on each criteria. Each executive also received a specific evaluation to which they had the opportunity to respond. Among the most heavily criticized for delays in their work were VP Finance Jun Wang and VP Internal Matthew McLaughlin.
Wang admitted that the effort of transitioning club banking has taken a toll on his mental health.
“My predecessors never had to deal with this many constituents at once,” Wang said. “And it [becomes] a mental pressure point when I have to deal with not just departmental executives […] but also SSMU club members as well [….The club bank transition is] probably [my] biggest project, and it [has] been very difficult to keep [under control] without impacting the other executives.”
McLaughlin explained that the two-and-a-half-month delay in hiring a Francophone Affairs Commissioner was due to its impromptu addition to his portfolio as a result of VP External Marina Cupido’s resignation. He reported to council that a commissioner was found on Nov. 29.
“This was under the External portfolio until Marina’s resignation, and then it was under my portfolio,” McLaughlin said. “As soon as I got this part of my portfolio [assigned], I launched the job application for the Francophone Affairs Commissioner and the application for the Francophone Affairs Committee. We [have found a commissioner but] only received one application to the committee so far, so I reopened that today to get more applicants.”
Legislative Council will reconvene on Jan. 10.