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4 May 2002

Canadian Report to 2002 Worlds Council

At the 2002 Worlds Council countries were invited to submit a report to the council to let other nations know about debating in their country.  It was not compulsory but a number of nations gave reports.

Canadian Report to 2002 Worlds Council

The Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate (CUSID) was organized in 1979 as a loose federation of varsity debating societies and clubs. CUSID has over 45 members in all ten Canadian provinces, though only 30 are currently active. Because of the size of Canada, CUSID is divided into three regions: Atlantic Canada, Central Canada and Western Canada. Central Canada is the most populated region though both Atlantic Canada and Western Canada have a strong history of debating dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. Though CUSID has no formal legal personality, its membership is exploring incorporation.

All Canadian debating is in the Canadian Parliamentary format, with two teams of two debaters. There are some style and time differences between CUSID’s three regions, though the fundamental principles upon which the debate is adjudicated is the same across Canada. All intervarsity debating is impromptu.

Debating societies in Canada are usually student groups, organized and managed by students themselves. Some organizations, such as Hart House, have strong administrative and faculty support but most CUSID members must recruit and fundraise resources independently from their university or college. Some universities have multiple institutions though these usually have specific, independent mandates (i.e. professional faculties or independent colleges).

CUSID’s Executive is comprised of seven members: a President, Treasurer, Executive Director, three Regional Vice-Presidents and a Director of French Language Debating. This Executive is responsible for administering CUSID by Laws, enforcing the CUSID Constitution and representing CUSID internationally. CUSID also sanctions eight tournaments: the National Debating Championships, in both English and French, three Regional Debating Championships, two Novice Debating Championships and the North American Debating Championships, in conjunction with the American Parliamentary Debating Association (APDA). Most CUSID members organize invitational debating tournaments throughout the academic year. Tournament registrations fees range from C$80 to C$180. The CUSID membership meets three times annually in a national plenary; regional meetings are held twice annually. Fees for membership are set annually and range from C$10 to C$50

At sanctioned tournaments, only full-time students and part-time students, who have not competed for five years previously, may compete. Invitational tournaments are governed by the rules set by the host institution. CUSID tournaments are usually three-day events, with five or six in-rounds and three or four out-rounds. Usually 40-50 teams compete at CUSID tournaments, though some tournaments can reach 100 teams. Sanctioned tournaments are rotated amongst CUSID members as best as possible.

CUSID members compete actively in the United States, both with APDA and the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA). CUSID is a founding member of the World University Debating Championships and CUSID schools have competed at every WUDC since 1981. CUSID members rarely compete abroad. There is very little interaction between CUSID and local schools debating organizations, though CUSID members have individual relationships with these organizations. For example, the University of Regina is organizing the 2001 Saskatchewan provincial schools championships and Queen’s University organizes a national-level, invitational schools tournament.

In sum, CUSID is a loosely organized and mainly member-driven. Though it sanctions official tournaments and its President represents Canada at Worlds Council, the majority of its activities are managed and administered by individual member schools. More information about CUSID can be found on our website at

Below is Canada's country report as it relates to the three questions posed at Worlds Council in Glasgow. Any questions or comments can be forwarded to me at

*The Definition of Institution*

Canadian debating is governed by the Canadian University Society for Intercollegiate Debate (CUSID). Though there is no formal definition of “institution” in our constitution, it is generally agreed upon that an institution is any degree or diploma granting body approved by the relevant provincial ministry.

Traditionally, the definition of institution has not posed a problem in Canada since there are less than 25 recognized post-secondary degree-granting institutions and diploma-granting institutions have traditionally not participated in debating activities.

The Canadian position is that the World University Debating Championships should be restricted to debating societies organized at post-secondary institutions that grant a degree or diploma on the condition of full-time or part time study. The advent of virtual universities and “mail-order” universities will require careful attention of the Worlds Council. For example, students at Century University can receive a degree by mail-order and Canada believes that such institutions should not be allowed to compete at the World University Debating Championships. On the other hand, virtual or correspondence universities might be included if it can be demonstrated that student representatives participate in course-based learning.

*The Issue of Advanced Degrees*

In CUSID, debaters may compete at CUSID-sanctioned tournaments (i.e. regional or national championship tournaments) provided that they are full-time students, regardless of whether they are undergraduate, professional or graduate students. Part-time students may compete at CUSID-sanctioned tournaments if they have not competed for five years previously regardless of their academic standing.

There is an additional requirement that students be attached to a member of CUSID. CUSID members are outlined in Schedule A of the CUSID Constitution and are required to pay an annual fee to CUSID. An individual completing professional courses (i.e. bar admissions courses) could not compete at a CUSID-sanctioned tournament unless their institution and, by extension, their debating society was recognized by CUSID. Currently, there are no professional educational institutions recognized by CUSID and there is a strong convention that suggests they would not be granted recognition.

The Canadian position is that the Inns of Court and other equivalent professional institutions should not be allowed to compete at the World University Debating Championships. Though students enrolled in the Legal Practice Course are full time students, they are trainee solicitors who have completed their formal education. The argument that the Inns have been traditionally allowed to compete at the WUDC is irrelevant, especially in light of the growing number of institutions competing at the WUDC. Their participation in the past does not require their participation at future WUDC.

Alternatively, Canada believes that if the Inns and other LPC institutions are allowed to compete, than equivalent institutions from other states should be allowed to compete as well. For example, students undertaking the Bar Admissions Course (BAC) through the Law Society of Upper Canada participate in four months of full-time study and are eligible for financial assistance through the Ministry of Education. Also, BAC students are “student members” of the Bar Association, the same way that LPC students are “student members” of the Law Society in the United Kingdom. The only difference between the LPC in the United Kingdom and the BAC in Canada is that the full-time study terms in Canada are interrupted by full-time employment for ten months.

*Multiple Societies at the Same Institution*

In CUSID, only a handful of institutions have multiple debating societies. The most obvious is the University of Toronto, though engineering and law faculties have been granted membership in CUSID on a case-by-case basis. All debating societies seeking membership in CUSID must be approved at the CUSID Annual General Meeting and there is a strong convention that prohibits multiple debating societies at the same institution unless these debating societies cater to different constituencies. The University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario are the only Canadian universities with an independent college system and, as such, these colleges have independent debating societies. Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and the Faculty of Engineering at Queen’s University co-exist with campus-wide debating societies because of their special constituencies. For example, Osgoode Hall mostly participates in mooting activities whereas the Faculty of Engineering at Queen’s University trains students for the Ontario Engineering Debating Competition. Multiple societies also exist at bilingual universities, such as the University of Ottawa, where there is an English Debating Society and a Society de Debat Francais.

The Canadian position is that multiple debating societies from the same institution should be discouraged unless a strong tradition of independent debating exists at these universities. Alternatively, the Worlds Council must have a strong reporting and enforcement mechanism to ensure that institutions, through the creation of multiple debating societies, are not abusing the n-1 rule. Canada believes that the WUDC organizing committee should be in contact with national representatives well in advance of the WUDC to ensure that teams not in compliance do not mistakenly arrive at the WUDC. In addition, Worlds Council might consider creating a Schedule of societies authorized to compete at future championships. This schedule could be amended on recommendation of the national representative at the preliminary Worlds Council meeting.

Ranjan Agarwal

President, CUSID

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