URSU Update

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author: kristian ferguson & john loeppky | news editor and editor-in-chief 


nobody’s on first / jeremy davis

Executive role still cloudy

The University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) has now been waiting on results of internal investigations for almost a month in regards to who is going to occupy the presidential seat.

With the disqualification of Sukhdeep Brar, the original winner, Shawn Wiskar was poised to fill the position. However, the ratification of Wiskar has been tabled while URSU looks to see if their policies were followed in the election.

URSU Vice President Operations and Finance, Derrick Gagnon, provided a bit of insight as to why nothing has yet been ratified.

“The ad-hoc committee that was formed decided came up with the recommendation to look up other lawyers who would be able to investigate the election committee’s report, to look into our procedures and policy and make sure they were followed.”

“The board tasked the executive to reach out to the lawyers and to hire them by this Wednesday. It didn’t really make sense to ratify the president as well as investigate the elections committee.”

Additionally, Gagnon confirmed that the Board’s chair had resigned but that URSU “haven’t yet accepted it.”

The URSU website began advertising for the Board Chair position on Nov. 19.

Originally, there was a motion to hire a third-party to “investigate and mediate the result and complaints regarding the by-election by November 9th,” however it was determined that “URSU policies do not allow for an appeal or challenge to the Election Committee’s Record of Decision.”

Similarly, the URSU minutes relayed that the executive felt that “hiring a Third-Party would put URSU at risk of potential legal challenges by one of the candidates or other members,” and that it would “undermine the credibility of the Elections Committee and its work, as well as further contribute to URSU’s poor public relations position.”

When this was voted upon at the Nov. 15 board meeting, it was locked into a tie with six for and six against. In the event of a tie, the Board Chair has the tie breaking vote and they voted in favour of dismissing a third-party investigation. Acting board chair and VP of student affairs Jermain McKenzie voted in favour.

An email was sent by presidential candidate Shawn Wiskar on Nov. 16 to those involved in the election, including the board chair, Carl Flis, Derrick Gagnon, and Jermain McKenzie outlining his grievances and demands.

” I was never told that a 3rd party investigation was being held nor was I told why. You owe all candidates who put their name forward for the 2018 byelection a reasonable answer to this question.

“Please provide me, the other candidates, and the membership a formal update and reasoning as to if there is a valid reason URSU has seemingly chosen to violate its bylaws and procedures and delay the successful candidate their right to begin work.”

“If URSU continues to act in violation of its own governing practices, I may be forced to seek legal remedies against the board including but not limited to: Filing a grievance with the Saskatchewan Labour Division, attain legal counsel to represent me in proceedings, or seeking legal compensation for a delay in work.”

Wiskar demanded a response by no later than 4 P.M on Nov. 20 and that a “public statement” be provided to URSU’s membership.

It has been confirmed that any official response would be the acting president’s responsibility.  Both McKenzie and Wiskar could not be reached for further comment on Nov. 20.

We will update this story as it develops.

 

Update: Nov. 22: A response was received on Nov. 22, as seen by the carillon, reading as follows and written by interim president Jermain McKenzie to candidates Sukhdeep Brar and Shawn Wiskar.

“Thanks for your patience over the last couple weeks. The board has been in the process of hiring a third party to investigate the election and to ensure that the decision arrived at was done consistently and fairly for all candidates involved in the election.

We have had now three consecutive disqualifications and the membership has been very concerned with our electoral process and how decisions have been made. We owe the highest duty to our membership to ensure that the integrity of our elections are above reproach and that there are not questions as to its fairness to all candidates.

The board was left with many unanswered questions concerning the election and believed that the best way to put any doubt about the election was to obtain the services of a neutral third party to review the election and ensure that our by-laws were followed and that all the proper processes were followed in coming to the decision that was made.

Thanks again for your patience as we try to bring this process to as quick a resolution as possible, while ensuring that we regain confidence from our membership about how our elections are conducted.”

Wiskar’s response read as follows: “I just have a couple questions:

“>Why has it taken 4 weeks to hire a third party? Who is the third party and what are their qualifications? Will I be interviewed by this third party? Is this information public to the student body, and if not why? Finally, what is the proposed conclusion date for this investigation?”

In speaking to the Carillon McKenzie confirmed that the goal is to complete the election process within the next two weeks. He also brought forward that the VP external’s and board chair’s resignations have had an impact on the process.

“These things take time and there’s been quite a few other matters that have been on the forefront and that’s probably caused some level of distraction.”

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