Councillors doing “bare minimum”

Now that the Feds elections are over, focus is back on matters at hand. Since December of 2014, council is falling into a trend where it barely reaches quorum. The lack of attendance has raised some questions about council&rsquo;s legitimacy: are councillors fulfilling their representative roles? Are they failing their constituents?&nbsp;</p>

Speaker of the council, Doug Turner, said he doesn’t recall witnessing two straight meetings where last year’s council struggled to reach quorum to this degree. Turner could not explain the recent lack of attendence to monthly meetings.

“I’m not sure … Councillors I guess have other things that are more important in their lives,” he said.

Turner — who was present at the first two meetings of the year — said he waited on councillors for 20-25 minutes on Feb. 8 before starting the meeting. Usually, council meetings commence at around 12:30 p.m. At 12:45 p.m. Turner sent out a warning email stating he’d cancel the meeting within the next 30 minutes if council failed to meet quorum. They eventually did meet quorum and began the meeting just after 1 p.m. 

To reach quorum, council needs 15 of 30 voting members, meaning there needs to be a minimum of 11 councillors because the exec represents four votes. In the January meeting, 11 councillors attended and all four exec were present; during the February meeting, 14 councillors were present and Danielle Burt was the lone exec because the other three were in the midst of campaigning for re-election. 

It’s a trend that actually started in December of 2014, when, according to Turner, councillors started leaving halfway through the meeting, dwindling their numbers barely to quorum. 

With a council that was only two-thirds elected in last year’s general election, Imprint asked Turner whether or not he believes the high number of acclaimed councillors gives councillors the impression they can get off by doing the bare minimum. 

“It’s less than the bare minimum,” he said. “Their only job is to show up to meetings and a lot of them aren’t even doing that, so it’s not even that they’re scraping by, it’s truly that they’re not doing the one mandatory thing they have to do.”

Council has mechanisms to deal with councillors who do not attend.  When a councillor reaches the threshold for absences — two unexcused absences or four total absences (excused or unexcused) — Turner, as the speaker, reports it to council who can then make a motion to remove them. Ex-councillors Raahim Yazdai (engineering) and Jack Li (math) were removed in September 2014 and February 2015, respectively, because they surpassed their absence threshold. Current arts councillor, Khadija Hamidzai, is up for removal in the next council meeting scheduled in March.

If this trend continues, along with low voter turnout in the general election and a fully acclaimed incoming council, not including Feds executives, Feds could face serious questions regarding their legitimacy to represent students.


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