HALIFAX- Representatives of the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia (CFS- NS) have been informed that they are not invited to the first meeting the government’s newly reinstated provincial Sexual Violence Prevention Committee to address sexual assault on university campuses, happening today at 1:00 pm. This decision comes as continued retaliation by the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, Labi Kousoulis, against the CFS-NS, after an op-ed was published in The Coast on March 15 that was critical of the Liberal government’s decision to vote down campus sexual violence legislation.
“Student representatives of our organization have been on the forefront of combatting sexual violence for decades, and excluding them is incomprehensible,” said CFS-NS Chairperson, Aidan McNally. “This is a further example of this government’s intolerance for democratic public dissent.”
Since the release of the op-ed the Department of Labour and Advanced Education has blocked student representatives’ access from several decision-making spaces, including a Student-Government Roundtable, despite claiming to want to build a collaborative relationship.
“Punishing students for speaking out against sexualized violence is unnerving. To further prevent us from participating in a Committee to which we bring a critical perspective is an abuse of power that should concern all Nova Scotians,” says McNally. “We can only interpret it as a direct impediment to our ability to hold sitting government accountable, and an affront to the thousands of students we represent.”
The provincial Sexual Violence Prevention Committee will oversee the implementation of the 10 recommendations for post-secondary institutions outlined in the Changing the Culture of Acceptance report, released in December 2017. The Committee includes representation from students, community organizations, university administration and government officials. Members of the CFS-NS are calling on the government to allow their representatives back into all regularly scheduled meetings with the Department.
The Canadian Federation of Students is the oldest and largest national student organization in Canada, representing over 650,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students across the country.