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@TheVarsity

The Varsity

The University of Toronto's
Student Newspaper Since 1880

CRO decisions challenged, overruled

By Dylan Robertson
Published: 10:00 am, 12 March 2009
Modified: 6 pm, 11 January 2012
under
UPDATED

For just 23 hours, Slate Change’s presidential candidate Jason Marin surpassed the maximum number of demerit points allowed to continue running in the UTSU election.

The demerits were handed out by CRO Lydia Treadwell, who has issued 15 rulings as of press time. The Elections and Referenda Committee, who has authority to overrule Treadwell’s decisions, issued three rulings Wednesday afternoon, two of them modifying previous demerit points.

As of 5:30 p.m Tuesday, March 10, Marin had 37 demerit points (35 are needed for disqualification). The ERC removed five points from each Change candidate, leaving Marin with 32 points.

Treadwell’s third ruling originally called for 15 demerit points each to the slate for unapproved materials on its website. The elections committee lowered the penalty on the grounds of ambiguous wording that induced confusion.

Two other rulings are being contested.

Treadwell’s fifth ruling stated that Marin and EFUT (French club) president Antonin Mongeau intimidated and harassed Alice Wu, who was campaigning for the Access slate.

Allegations included questioning her employment status, personal relationship history, and sexual history, as well as accusing Wu of breaking rules by campaigning while she is a paid UTSU employee. (Treadwell later investigated and found that Wu was on unpaid leave since the campaign period started.)

Treadwell ruled that though not all comments or actions were from Marin, he is to be held accountable.

At the ERC meeting Wednesday, Marin admitted to approaching Wu with Mongeau to ask about her employment status, but said that he was not campaigning, and that Mongeau is not campaigning for his slate.

The committee concluded that Marin was a non-arm’s-length, third-party campaigner, citing his intent to enforce the elections procedure code, presence in a campaign area, interruption of Wu and knowledge that Mongeau would be supporting the Change slate.

“That’s a lie,” Mongeau told The Varsity. He said he asked Wu whether she was dating Access candidate Adnan Najmi, and did not bring up her sexual history. Marin acknowledged he did not stop Mongeau from questioning Wu on her personal motives for campaigning.

“I’ve never campaigned for anybody on the Change slate,” said Mongeau, adding that the CRO did not contact him before identifying him as a non-arm’s-length party. He said he often criticizes those he feels have been incumbents in any organization for too long.

Treadwell had ruled that Mongeau was “publicly and falsely accusing Sandy Hudson of violating the Election Procedure Code by allegedly abusing Union resources.” Mongeau said Treadwell has not responded to his request that she provide her sources.

Treadwell’s thirteenth ruling stated that outgoing VP Campus Life Athmika Punja used an internal phone list to text message 20 individuals, inviting them to a volunteer training session for the Change slate. She said that as president of Woodsworth College executive, Punja used her position in a campus organization to give Change services they couldn’t otherwise access.

“Ms. Punja has come out openly as a campaigner for the Change Slate,” reads the ruling. “The Change candidates are very well aware of her commitment to help them.”

Each Change slate candidate received demerit points.

“I’ve found that she’s made very little attempt to locate hard evidence beyond the word of campaigners for Demand Access,” said Punja in an email to The Varsity. “I will not apologize for being an executive who has made a concerted effort to connect with other elected representatives on MY campus.”

Punja said she would have allowed the space for the Access slate if asked and noted that there were students studying in Kruger Hall during the meeting.

“I’m obviously in the awkward position of being the only executive who is not running,” said Punja. “I have torn [a ligament] from a dislocated knee, so I haven’t been contributing to the campaign as alleged by the CRO, beyond inviting my friends to their Facebook group and letting students know how to get involved in the campaign.”

The Elections and Referenda Committee met Wednesday evening and passed additional rulings. They were not published as of press time.

CRO Lydia Treadwell could not be reached for comment, despite repeated phone calls and emails.