Amy Marlene Robichaud: Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister

On the eve of the 2009 CUSID National Debating Championships, the grand finale of the CBC’s Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister aired last night — and after a fierce debate hosted by Alex Trebek and judged by former Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, Kim Campbell and Paul Martin, Calgary native and University of Ottawa English Debating Society member Amy Marlene Robichaud won the competition and was awarded $50,000 and a paid internship.

Among other achievements, Amy has co-ordinated the English Debating Society’s 24 Hour Debate Challenge, raising hundreds of dollars for a shelter for battered women, and ranked as a public speaking finalist at tournaments as prestigious as Queen’s University and the CUSID British Parliamentary National Championships.

Congratulations Amy!

Amy was the second person to enter this season’s competition which began online when the CBC asked young Canadians, aged 18-25, to post a video to YouTube telling us what they would do to improve Canada politically, socially and economically. Candidates challenged one another’s platforms with additional videos. They also responded to weekly video challenges asking for their opinions on current affairs. Finally, ten semifinalists were selected to come to Toronto to compete head to head at political bootcamp where four finalists were selected to compete on the nationally televised show.


National Champions, New Executive, General & Central Meetings

CUSID was proud to crown new National Champions at Queen’s University this past week. Congratulations to Adrienne Lipsey and Richard Lizius of the University of Toronto’s Hart House, for defeating the joint National Top Speakers, Mike Jancik and Jason Rogers from McGill University. The Grand Final was held in Canada’s first Parliament, and was presided over by the Honourable Peter Milliken, Speaker of the House of Commons.

Congratulations also go to the new Novice Champions, McGill’s Riva Gold and Sophie MacIntyre, defeating Hart House’s Ben Schachter and Josh Xiong on a 4-3 decision after a 75 minute deliberation. Canada’s Top Public Speaker is McGill’s Leon Grek, who defeated McGill’s Padraic Scanlan, also on a 4-3 vote. The Top Novice Speaker was Hart House’s John Ashbourne.

The new CUSID Executive includes the University of Toronto’s Nick Shkordoff as President, the University of Ottawa’s Alex Amar as Executive Director, and the University of Toronto’s Paul-Erik Dash Veel as Treasurer.

Other business from the Annual General Meeting included the allocation of the 2007-2008 British Parliamentary Championships to Edmonton’s University of Alberta, the 2007-2008 North American Debating Championships to Carleton University in Ottawa, the 2007-2008 National Championships to Dalhousie University of Halifax, and the adoption of criteria to clarify CUSID recognition of multiple clubs at a single institution.

The Central Region General Meeting granted the 2007-2008 Central Canadian Novice Championships to York University’s Osgoode Hall, and the L?ger Cup to Kingston’s Royal Military College.

Many thanks and congratulations to Queen’s University for an impeccable tournament.

2007 Queen's University CUSID Central Region Meeting

CUSID Central Region Meeting

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Queen’s University


McMaster University (Kozo Ota)

University of Guelph (Shaughnessy Hawkins)

Carleton University (Adam Coombs)

University of Western Ontario (Cari Ferguson)

Lakehead University (Miranda Serravalle)

University of Toronto (Hart House) (Sarah Ingimundson)

York University (Rudi Lof)

University of Ottawa (English Debating Society) (Bill Hughes)

Royal Military College (Jon Douglas)

Queen’s University (Sarah Sahagian)

McGill University (Bryan Badali)

Bishops University (Ben Wald)

University of Waterloo – Directed proxy

Chair: Kozo Ota

Minutes: Kozo Ota

1. Call to Order


2. Approval of Agenda


3. Bids for Novice

Osgoode Hall (York) presents a bid for Central Novice.

Concerns are raised about Amir Mohareb’s experience with being a CA. Osgoode believes Amir has the relevant skills to come up with resolutions, and that he is willing to seek help from more experienced past Chief Adjudicators. There will be an informal team around Amir, but he will lead his adjudication team.

Concerns are raised about the 60 team cap being too low, and how realistic it would be to raise it. Osgoode might have logistics and judging issues if the cap is raised. The number was determined based on informal polling, and the club was not willing to organize a larger tournament without compromising the quality of judging. If the region is willing to commit to sending enough judges Osgoode will work hard enough to guarantee that the cap can be raised. There is general agreement that the community will work with Osgoode to allow a raising of the team cap.

Concerns are raised about the proposed “speed dating” social. Some feel that the forced socialization aspect of the event will not be well received by novices. Given the nature of Ontario’s drinking laws and novice ages it seems unrealistic to expect the same kind of socials possible in Quebec. Furthermore some feel that drinking has been over-emphasized and welcome Osgoode’s social idea. Osgoode ultimately believes that if clubs sell the idea to their novices positively the event will be successful.

MOTION to accept Osgoode’s bid for Central Novice, in principle, without a commitment to open or closed quarters.

Disposition: Passes with dissents on a voice vote.

A vote is taken to determine whether Osgoode Central Novice should have open or closed quarters.

Disposition: Osgoode Central Novice will have closed quarter finals.

4. Bids for Leger

The Royal Military College presents a bid for Leger.

Since the presentation of their bid on CUSIDnet, RMC has discovered their scheduling options are more flexible. Including dates in the first semester, RMC would also be able to host in the second semester on the traditional Dorchester weekend (vacated by Carleton’s successful NorAms bid).

A vote is taken to determine whether the membership would like to see Leger held in the first semester or the second semester.

Disposition: The membership unanimously decides it would like Leger to be hosted in second semester.

MOTION to accept RMC’s bid for Leger Cup in second semester.

Disposition: Passed unanimously on a voice vote.

5. Scheduling Discussion


6. Other Business


7. Adjournment


2005-2006 VP Western's Final Report: Monica Ferris

VP Western 2005-2006 Final Report
Monica Ferris

It’s been a pleasure to serve as VP West for the past year. Although I was elected rather later than the previous VPs, I think we’ve managed to get a lot done in that time. This report will be rather extensive, so feel free to peruse and skip at your leisure.

Things We Accomplished This Year:

1. CA School Resources

The CA School resources were contributed by Kevin Massie, Sharon Ohayon, Chris Jones, Deborah Book, and Spencer Keys. I thank them for their contributions, and believe the West will be better off for their work. This information comes from experienced TDs, tabs directors, CAs, and a Worlds CA. It’s essential that new CAs read this resource, and that new contributions and updates be sought from people with experience on adjudicator teams, and experience CAing. Getting inexperienced CAs and tournament organizers to read this guide should be a top priority for next year.

2. BP Guide

The Calgary BP Guide is posted on CUSIDNet. For how long, I don’t know, but there is that resource available for people who are interested in BP.

3. French Debate

There has been an increased interest in French debate, which almost everyone in the West seems pleased with. I’d like to thank Guillaume Laroche and Meaghan Beattie for their efforts to improve interest in French debate, and UBC for their inclusion of French debate at Pac Cup.

Things We Could Improve Upon:

4. Communication With NPDA Schools

One of the biggest disappointments for me this year was a lack of outreach on the part of tournament directors to NPDA schools. Pac Cup was one quarter of the size of last year. One of the reasons for this was that the tournament announcement for CUSID wasn’t even made until late January, never mind the NPDA. I had to go and put it up myself. For important CUSID West tournaments that could be a draw to schools in the NPDA, we need to tell them about our tournament well in advance. Six to ten weeks in advance for the tournament announcement, and by early summer for the finalized tournament date. Speaking of finalized tournament dates…

5. Tournament Scheduling

If people are genuinely interested in improving attendance for tournaments, I would suggest having both first and second semester tournament dates fairly firmly fixed by May or June. It may seem slightly silly, but we need a great degree of warning in order to book flights, find partners, figure out which tournaments we’ll be attending, etc. For instance, it shouldn’t take eight months to set tournament dates for Pac Cup and McGoun, and we should definitely be avoiding a situation where we have CUSID West tournaments on back-to-back weekends. I think this is actually a very important factor when considering whether to go to a tournament.

6. Tournament Costs

The $15 tournament Ed Open had better food, more fun, and a smoother run than many “prestige” tournaments this year. People need to look into being more flexible with tournament costs, and realize that fancy banquets don’t make tournaments big draws, good competition does. I’d suggest contacting Julia and Chris about how they kept the costs down for Ed Open.

7. Equity Policies

Yes, I know, roll your eyes at me. But equity issues aren’t just a Central problem, and they need to be taken more seriously. Equity policies should be posted sooner, and equity officers need to be visible entities at tournaments, not hiding in the tabs room thinking that equity issues apply only in rounds.

8. Fair Warning

Even for invitationals, it makes a lot of sense to post style guides, and to make sure everyone knows about the rules of your tournament before they go. Everyone will have a much better time that way, and no nasty surprises will crop up that leave people badmouthing tournaments afterwards.

In any event, I’ve really enjoyed representing you guys on the exec, and good luck for next year.

2005-2006 President's Final Report: Jessica Prince

President 2005-2006 Final Report
Jessica Prince

As of March 2006, I am quite pleased with the state of CUSID and the achievements that our organization made this past year. I will outline the various measures and actions that I undertook in my capacity as CUSID President, and then suggest some recommendations that future Presidents may want to consider.

Membership Expansion

During the 2005-2006 year, I presided over the admission of seven new member clubs to CUSID. Exceptionally, four of those new clubs are in the West, and I find the growth of debating in that region to be particularly encouraging. Of course, CUSID also admitted an American debate club this year; the fine folks at the University of Alaska have joined our organization and shown themselves to be quite committed to debating in CUSID. The remaining three new members reside in Central, and I am quite proud of the fact that two of those clubs are Francophone institutions.

In the coming years, I hope that CUSID will witness more growth in the East as well. St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia considered applying for full membership this year; I hope that they will be prepared to join our organization in 2006-2007.

Executive Duties

Jointly with the Executive Director and the Treasurer, I cleaned up and passed some new constitutional articles and by-laws surrounding the role of the CUSID Executive.

Firstly, all Executive Officers of CUSID are now constitutionally obliged to produce a formal written report at the end of their term. This applies to the President, Executive Director, Treasurer, all three regional Vice Presidents, and the Director of French Language Debates. The motivation behind these amendments came from the frustration that myself and other members of the Executive experienced in attempting to carry out our duties without much formal indication (beyond our constitutionally mandated roles) as to what we were meant to do or how things had been done in the past. Hopefully, the existence of annual formal reports will enhance CUSID’s institutional memory and ensure smoother transitions of power in the future.

Secondly, the “Balanced Budget and Account Rule By-law” was altered, such that the Treasurer is now required to produce an official statement of cash flows for the year. This statement must reconcile the CUSID bank account’s opening balance with it’s closing balance for the year, and must be accompanied by appropriate receipts. This measure is intended to promote greater transparency and accountability between the Executive and the membership, as well as between one year’s Executive and the next.

Thirdly, as of this meeting, both the President and the Treasurer will be constitutionally responsible for jointly reviewing and updating Schedule A at their term’s end. One of the biggest problems with maintaining an up-to-date membership list is that inactive members, who lose their full membership status for lack of adequate participation in CUSID, tend to go un-noticed. As a result, incorrect Schedule A membership lists are passed from one Executive to the next, and the problem compounds. Our hope is that by requiring a complete review and updating of Schedule A at the end of each Executive’s term, the list will be more accurate.

Finally, the Executive Director’s constitutional role was updated to more accurately reflect the duties of the position. While the Constitution used to deem the Executive Director responsible for “maintaining the CUSID WWW site and CUSID-Net mailing list,” it now reads that he or she is responsible for “maintaining the CUSID WWW site and CUSIDnet discussion forum.”

New Materials

I am particularly proud of the new training and fundraising materials that are now available to CUSID member clubs. This year, the Vice-Presidents and I created a CUSID open letter to be used by clubs for internal university support and external fundraising purposes. With one letter specific to each region, I’m happy to report that they are being used and I hope that they will help clubs garner more institutional and financial support. Ideally, these letters will be translated into French in the coming year. The English versions of the CUSID open letter are available here:

I also compiled a National Debate Guide that focuses on issues that pertain to the entire CUSID community. For example, it provides advice and expert opinion on British Parliamentary debating, North-Ams style, French debating, and the different regional styles of debating. It is my hope that this resource will prove useful to clubs across CUSID, and that it will continue to be built on in the coming years. The National Debate Guide is available here:

Finally, the Vice-President of the Central Region also produced an ambitious and extensive Central Debating Guide. I helped Dash with the editing and polishing up of this mammoth undertaking. Although the project was motivated by Central-specific concerns, it has proved a valuable training resource for clubs across CUSID. The Central Debate Guide is available here:

World’s Council

My role as CUSID representative to World’s Council this year was fairly procedural. UBC made a fantastic presentation about World’s 2007 and their status as the host school was unanimously ratified.

There was only one bid for 2008 Worlds, that of Assumption University in Thailand. The bid was also quite impressive, and CUSID should be happy to know that our own Joanna Nairn will be one of four DCA’s at that event.

Finally, the issue of whether World’s should include an English-as-a-Foreign-Language component, as well as the current English-as-a-Second-Language event, was discussed at length. Briefly, the distinction between the two categories lies in the amount of exposure an individual has to English in their daily lives. For example, someone who lives in Japan, does not regularly encounter English speakers, and attends a Japanese-language school would be classified as an English-as-a-Foreign-Language speaker, whereas someone who lives in the Netherland, attends school in English, and is exposed to English in their day-to-day lives would be classified as English-as-a-Second-Language. Due to the fact that next year’s host school (UBC) had absolutely no problem with including both an EFL and an ESL element to their tournament, I voted in favour of a motion of allow an EFL component at UBC World’s as a trial for coming years.

CUSID-APDA Relations

I had some contact with the APDA President and his Executive this year. Although we had planned a ‘Heads of State’ meeting between the CUSID and APDA Executive at the North American Championships, in order to discuss issues of concern to both of our organizations, this was canceled at the last minute, due to the fact that the ADPA President chose not to attend the tournament. I did meet with the remainder of the APDA Executive, however, who were all very friendly individuals and were unaware of any concerns that the APDA President had voiced to me at World’s Council.

With the North American Championships held in Canada this year, CUSID can be quite proud of the job that Hart House did and the quality of that event. Particularly, in light of the number of APDA teams who did well at that tournament and the hard work of our Canadian Chief Adjudicator to achieve consensus on tough issues, the perception that CUSID North-Ams are biased against American teams has largely been mitigated this year.

As North-Ams will be held in APDA next year, it’s important that next year’s CUSID President and Executive appoint a Canadian DCA as soon as possible, so that the chosen individual can begin liasing with their ADPA counterpart right away. This is important to ensure that common ground can be found on issues of contention between our two organizations, in terms of the MOU, and to make sure that next year’s North-Ams are as CUSID-friendly as possible.

High School Debate

Relations between CUSID and Canadian high school debating have improved this year, notably because of the creation of a high school tournament schedule on CUSIDnet. Numerous high school coaches have told me that this has made their lives much easier and that it has informed them of tournaments they were not previously aware of. I would recommend that future Executives maintain an online schedule of high school tournaments being hosted by CUSID schools, so that all member schools enjoy more publicity and higher attendance at their events.

Furthermore, I did a great deal of informal liaising with high school debate coaches across the country this year. While this is due mostly to the fact that I have personal relationships with many of those individuals, I would recommend that insofar as it is possible for future Presidents, they ought to maintain a rapport with high school coaches. At the very least, it makes for good CUSID-high school relations, and at the very best, it ensures higher turnout at our high school events.


Beyond the few recommendations I have made in the above paragraphs, I would also suggest that the transfer of signing authority on the CUSID bank account from the outgoing President and Treasurer to the incoming President and Treasurer occur as soon as possible. This year, we had a great deal of difficulty getting signing authority on the account, and due to various problems at both of our banks, the issue took the entire year to resolve. Part of the problem is that the Treasurer and President often do not live in the same city, and thus, they have to do paperwork through different banks. This issue is unfortunate, but I do not see any way around it. What can be avoided, however, is an outgoing President or Treasurer failing to sign off on the account, so I would recommend that this transfer be done as soon as possible, perhaps at Nationals if all relevant individuals are present.

In terms of by-laws, there were numerous by-laws passed in CUSID’s recent history that are not up on CUSIDnet. While I attempted to track down these by-laws, there doesn’t seem to be any written copy of them. My recommendation here is an obvious one: when your Executive passes a constitutional amendment or by-law, be sure that your Executive Director makes the relevant changes to the documents on CUSIDnet. Firstly, this ensures that the membership at large is made aware of the changes and has access to the most up-to-date copy of documents, but secondly, it also ensures that these changes are not lost in the mists of time.

Finally, I think that CUSID is in very good shape. Our enormous successes at international events is a testament to that, as is our relative progressiveness on equity issues vis à vis the rest of the debate world. Of course, there are always areas for improvement: addressing the persistent, although much improved, gender disparity in debating, and aiding smaller schools in their ability to run tournaments are just two examples.

I think the biggest challenge in the coming years will be to ensure that we remain a strong organization; I think this is best addressed by a highly responsive Executive that listens to the concerns of its members, makes an effort to help those clubs who ask for it, and seeks to achieve a balance between different views. This is the approach that I have tried to pursue this year and I think it is a winning formula for CUSID.