According to UMSU bylaw 1050, during general elections, “any Member of the Union, other than the CRO [chief returning officer], may file a complaint regarding an alleged breach of the election rules,” and “the CRO is empowered to investigate and rule upon any breach of the election rules, whether submitted to the CRO in a complaint or initiated by the CRO.”
Here is a summary of the registered complaints:
Victoria Watkins (vice-president internal, Fusion) filed a complaint against presidential candidate Al Turnbull (Refresh) last Friday, alleging he “promoted slander by re-tweeting a tweet that suggested ‘slates’ were responsible for vandalism of his campaign material.” CRO Jacqueline Keena ruled that “no slanderous or libelous statements were promoted.” The complaint was ruled invalid because it was filed more than 48 hours after the incident and no penalty was assigned to Turnbull.
Zachary Johnson filed a complaint against the Refresh slate last Saturday night, alleging that the slate distributed “factually incorrect” campaign materials.
From the CRO’s summary:
“The statement in question was made by Refresh in the all-members email sent by the CRO. In the email, Refresh states, ‘We, for the first time ever took the Hub out of a $450,000 hole…’”
According to Keena’s write-up, she consulted with UMSU general manager Clark Cunningham and confirmed that “under the direction of the current UMSU executive, the Hub is making strides to reach a break-even point by the end of the fiscal year.”
She ruled that “the statement in question is not incorrect,” and noted that “complete financial records are not available.” No penalty was assigned to Refresh.
During voting week, Fusion’s Dana Hatherly submitted a complaint against Refresh. Hatherly felt that election rules had been violated in the making of a campaign video created by Refresh and uploaded to their Facebook page.
Hatherly’s complaint points out five potential rule violations, including that Refresh “used trademarked material without written authorization of the trademark holder,” and “obtained an unfair advantage” over other campaigners by using footage shot at the Frosh music festival and by gaining access to Investors Group Field.
An investigation by the CRO revealed that the video footage, owned by Avery Stedman, was given to Refresh for free. Furthermore, Stedman was “willing and able to provide the same footage to any other candidates, under a temporary license, for a nominal fee.”
The CRO issued a five per cent budget reduction to each member of Refresh. In her ruling, she explained that the budget reduction was to compensate for the fact that the slate should have had to pay the same “nominal fee” for the footage.
Following up on complaint #2014-03, Dana Hatherly alleged that Avery Stedman’s participation for free in the Refresh video constituted volunteerism, and since Stedman was not an UMSU member (Stedman is a University of Winnipeg student), supplementary rule 8A (campaign volunteers must be members of the union) was broken.
In her ruling, the CRO indicated a distinction between volunteering and providing services: “there are no rules in the bylaws or supplementary rules that suggest people who provide services to candidates need to be members of the union.”
No penalty was issued.
Fusion campaign manager Craig Adolphe filed a complaint against Refresh and volunteer Spencer Yasui (Refresh).
Adolphe alleged that Yasui posted a defamatory message about Fusion to social media prior to becoming a volunteer. According to the official complaint, Yasui had said that a “supporter of Fusion” was responsible for destroying presidential candidate Al Turnbull’s (Refresh) campaign posters (see complaint #2014-01, which Adolphe said also concerned Yasui and social media).
No budget penalty was issued to Refresh; however, Yasui was asked to take down the post and retract the statement.
This article was updated online 7 p.m., Mar. 9
The ruling on Zachary Johnson’s complaint against Refresh for using false information to campaign seems questionable. How can the CRO make a fair ruling when she is denied access to the Financial Statements? I’ve had friends on the Finance Committee and know that UMSU does monthly financial statements, so she should be able to view at least the bottom line numbers from the past few months for the business in question to confirm or deny the statement’s accuracy.
All students are fee paying members of the student union and should not be denied basic information about where their money is going, and should know for sure if the truth is being told about businesses owned and ultimately funded by students. That information sent to all students likely had a significant effect on if and how students voted in the UMSU elections. I really hope that students and The Manitoban pay extra close attention during the next financial report to Council in April. The end of the fiscal year is April 30th, so Al Turnbull and the general manager recently hired by this year’s executive better hope that The Hub shows a profit or at least reaches a break-even point by that time, otherwise, resignations should be in order.