The little commission that was?

By Andrea Bundon

Two Students’ Union commissioners have decided the president needs a little help and they are just the people for the job.

The University of Calgary Students’ Legislative Council includes the executive members and several elected commissioners. However, the president has no commissioners, and SU President Barb Wright maintains that is currently the case.

"I don’t have a Presidential Commission," she said of the current situation.

However, Operations and Finance Commissioner Mark Counsell and External Commissioner David Rassin claim not only is there a new commission, but they are both on it.

"We announced that, just as Barb wanted, we are creating a Presidential Commission," said Rassin.

"The idea came squarely from Barb," added Counsell. "She’s been vocal about wanting a commission and we believe there are things she requires assistance and advice on."

According to Wright, the new commission is illegitimate and fails to meet any standards or SU requirements. The commission has not yet held an official meeting, as this would require the presence of the president. "I asked them to meet with me," said Wright. "I’ve asked them publicly to go through a standing committee nomination. It is my hope that if this becomes a drain on resources and time they will realize its lack of productivity and cease to focus their energies there."

Wright explained she has considered the idea of creating a commission to assist her in her duties as the president. However, she believed the concept would be considered at the upcoming representational review designed to examine SU internal structure.

"The point I communicated was that, looking at how the university has grown, it becomes necessary to have four dedicated commissioners, one from each portfolio, to help me out with some things," said Wright.

Counsell and Rassin believe the existence of a Presidential Commission is a matter of initiative rather than bylaws.

"This was just about taking initiative and doing something that needed to be done," said Rassin. "We are already putting in more hours than any of the others. We decided we could take on more."

Reaction to Counsell and Rassin’s announcement of the commission formation at the Oct. 16 SLC meeting was mixed.

"A large portion [of SLC members] are very much against it," said Counsell. "They assume it is a form of shadow cabinet when it is not. Others regard it with amusement and a minority believe it is a positive step. Unfortunately Barb falls in the first group. She agrees with the idea but would like to see it as an elected commission, to have it more formalized."

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