By Julieanne Acosta, March 22 2022—
On March 10, the Students’ Union (SU) election results were announced. The executive team was anticipated to be fully elected as each position had at least one candidate running. However, students learnt that the vice-president external race was to be left vacant until the next by-election, scheduled in the fall term.
On March 9, the Gauntlet received a statement from the SU regarding the VP external race.
“The SU received a Review Board decision earlier this week which invalidated any result received from the Vice President External race in the current SU election. Unfortunately, the decision was received after the ballot was finalized and we were unable to remove or change the ballot. The sole candidate running in the VP External race was informed of the Review Board decision and was told that his name would still appear on the ballot,” read the statement. “The Review Board decision has nothing to do with the validity of the current candidate and was brought by another student. The SU is examining the Review Board decision and considering next steps. We may have more to say on this matter at a later date.”
Mateusz Salmassi — an international student — was planning to run in the VP External race but was deemed ineligible by the Chief Returning Officer (CRO). On Feb 11, Salmassi appealed the decision of the CRO to the Review Board.
The Review Board met virtually on Feb. 24 for a jurisdictional hearing. In this hearing, the Review Board acknowledged that active members of the SU, as defined by ss. 1(1)-3(1)(e) of the Union Bylaw are entitled to full Union privileges, including running in an election. At the time of his nomination for VP External, Salmassi was an active member of the union, had met all eligibility requirements and had the right to be nominated as per subsection 41(1) of the Union Bylaw.
The CRO did not dispute the fact that Salmassi met all nomination eligibility requirements and thus the Review Board determined that in vetoing Salmassi’s candidacy for VP External, the CRO interfered with the democratic process of the electoral race for VP External.
The Review Board unanimously overturned the decision and concluded that Salmassi be reinstated as a candidate and be allowed to run for the position at the fall by-election.
Theodore McHugh ran the VP External race uncontested throughout the election period. Salmassi explained the extent of contact he had made with McHugh.
“The contact consisted of sending an email on March 8 with the official decision to inform him,” said Salmassi. “We stated that we are opposed to any attempt to overturn this decision through the Review Board or tribunal process. But if his team wanted to advocate for a quicker election, we would be more than happy to assist with that, because we would agree.”
The Gauntlet was unable to reach McHugh for a statement.
According to the Union Bylaws ss. 40(2), by-elections are held in the fall term each year for the purpose of filling any vacant positions. In a statement to the Gauntlet on March 17, Salmassi and his would-be campaign manager, Isabelle Reynolds, commented on having to run in the fall by-election.
“Postponing the VP External election until October is completely unacceptable. This is a provincial election year, and students need a Vice President External to take the lead on advocacy during this critical time,” read the statement.
Salmassi noted in an interview with the Gauntlet on March 10, how this decision affects all international students.
“The Review Board made the right decision. I’m proud of the precedent it sets and the review board made a multitude of recommendations for the election process that would benefit domestic and international students,” said Salmassi.
All Union Bylaws are public documents and can be found on the SU website.