Carelton student leaders take hard line of disqualifications
By Joshua Budd
Carleton University Students' Association's constitutional board will be hearing an appeal today to overrule a decision it made in February to disqualify Christian Dallaire and Sachelle Magloire's victories in February's CUSA elections.
Dallaire, president-elect and current president and Magloire, finance commissioner-elect, ran together on the same slate and won the election. Dallaire won by 1,000 votes and Magloire by 700 votes. One week later the constitutional board overruled the final results.
Darcy Val, chair of Carleton's constitutional board, said Dallaire and Magloire violated a constitutional rule which prohibits students from campaigning in student residences during the election without prior permission from the residence association. He said they broke the rule when they distributed campaign pamphlets under students' doors in the Rideau River residence without obtaining the necessary letter of permission.
Dallaire said he received letters of permission from the residence association but the constitutional board did not give him a chance to present the letters when they made the decision to disqualify himself and Magloire. He also said the vice-president of the residence association was present when he distributed the pamphlets.
"It looks to me like they were just trying to pull something out of the air," Dallaire said. "I had all the evidence. They just took one side of the story and made a decision."
"Any idiot knows you have a right to defend yourself," Magloire said. "I was never questioned."
Val said the board tried to contact Dallaire but at the time he was busy participating in the student occupation of the president's office. He said they did not contact Magloire because nobody knew her phone number.
The board did not follow proper procedure, Dallaire said. The chief elections officer is supposed to be the first person to hear complaints about violations in an election campaign. This time the complaint went straight to the board.
"I know the rules inside and out," Dallaire said. "This is my 10th election to a students' council position. I've won all of them and I don't plan on stopping now."
The five-member constitutional board has declared a conflict of interest and has agreed to be replaced by five new members who will decide whether or not to rescind the previous board's decision. After the decision is made the original members will return to their positions.
Dallaire and Magloire said they want to seek all internal options to get reinstated, but are confident enough about their case to pursue a civil trial if the board does not revoke the previous decision. They have already hired a lawyer.
Magloire said a constitutional ruling has never been revoked and the board is afraid of setting a precedent. "They're wrong and their only motive in not retracting the decision is they want to save face," Magloire said.
On March 13, CUSA voted not to present a defence or spend money on an attorney. Magloire said CUSA cannot afford a proper defence which her lawyer estimates will cost the association $10,000-$20,000. The association has agreed to accept a settlement from Magloire's and Dallaire's lawyer should it be necessary.