By Joe Friesen
Dave MacLean may launch a formal challenge to the RyeSAC electoral processes after learning that rival Ken Marciniec’s campaign team was given the use of three CKLN phone lines on the last night of the campaign.
Marciniec and his supporters set up a phone bank, and ruled that Marciniec’s campaign expenses should reflect a fair market value rent for the phone lines.
Gauthier said the Marciniec campaign will be charged approximately 78 cents for each line per day of use. He came up with that number by dividing $22 monthly charge for a basic phone line by 28, the number of days in February.
All candidates must limit their campaign spending to $250.
“This is unfair. The chief returning officer in my mind is clearly no longer being just,” MacLean said.
Gauthier said he’s maintained his neutrality throughout the campaign.
“Taking the job is a vow of neutrality, to be fair to everyone,” he said. “I interview every candidate about every complaint.”
MacLean was also upset about the campus radio station’s connection to the Marciniec campaign.
“They’re using CKLN funds for this. Every student pays eight dollars into CKLN,” said MacLean.
CKLN receives approximately $95,000 annually from Ryerson students but it is an organization independent of Ryerson student government.
“We could have all just gone home and called from our respective home lines, so there’s not too much of an advantage being had,” said Marciniec.
Alex Lisman, a key member of Marciniec’s campaign team, said six volunteers, some using their own cellphones, contributed to the massive task of contacting the interested voters, Lisman said he was the one who asked CKLN for the use of their phones and office space. “CKLN is very supportive of Ken,” said Lisman.
In response to this news, MacLean alleged he had documents proving the chief returning officer’s bias.
“Nicholas Gauthier, the CRO, is an official member of RyeACT,” he said. “As the neutral CRO it’s kind of odd that he’s a member of RyeACT, who are officially against me and in support of Ken Marciniec.”
Gauthier said he signed the RyeACT membership list in order to receive RyeACT e-mails but he has not attended a meeting since being named CRO. He said his political beliefs have never interfered with the execution of his duties.
“I think that is ridiculous,” he said. “It doesn’t impact my decisions.”
MacLean said that this incident, coming on the heels of last week’s controversy over Marciniec’s distribution of ‘Freeze the Fees’ buttons, had finally eroded his confidence in Ryerson’s political system.
“I think it’s sham,” he said. “If he’s allowing phones to be expensed for one dollar then I’m getting screwed, so the truth might as well come out now that the system is corrupt.”
Gauthier said MacLean might be looking for reasons to challenge the election.
“He’s really really reaching, to appeal something like that,” he said. “If the [election] results are in his favour, he’ll probably stop talking about it.”
Marciniec said his campaign used the phone calls primarily to inform people when and where to vote and that there was not much discussion of election issues.
“I imagine that if they wanted a reminder call from me that they would be supportive,” he said. “It was definitely a good idea and I think it will give us some positive results.”
Marciniec also dismissed MacLean’s claims of impropriety over the ‘Freeze the Fees’ buttons worn by many of Marciniec’s supporters. The buttons were bought under RyeSAC’s budget and are available to all students so they do not count as part of Marciniec’s campaign expenses.
“If my opponent were really committed to [freezing the fees] then he could wear the button regularly too. Then there would be no difference,” said Marciniec.
MacLean said that if the telephones had been offered to him he would definitely have made use of them.
CKLN station manager Conrad Collaco said MacLean could have used CKLN’s phones, but no such request was ever made.
MacLean said this issue proves that Ryerson politics are controlled by an entrenched elite.
“There’s clearly something wrong with the fact that it’s one dollar for a phone and that it’s being offered to certain people and not others,” said MacLean. “RyeSAC is a group of insiders for insiders and you can see exactly what’s happening, how difficult it is to change.”