Sarah Turnbull’s candidacy is hanging by a thread.
The presidential candidate was one demerit point away from disqualification at press time on Tuesday after Chief Returning Officer Kelly Holloway imposed a 20-demerit-point penalty for two counts of gross misrepresentation of facts.
Holloway found that the statements, which were reported Feb. 9 by Ryerson Students United presidential candidate Muhammad Ali Jabbar, were “contentious.” The letter written by the Elect Connect slate, which the CRO approved for distribution days earlier, claimed that the current RSU executive “effectively lost our student majority” of control over the Student Campus Centre and that Turnbull was involved in the creation of the multi-faith room.
These claims were inaccurate, Jabbar said. “We have never lost a majority,” he said. “There was nothing there that we lost.” However, paperwork shows that, by not signing the operating agreement, RSU did lose student-majority in the operation of the SCC. Jabbar, who is also president of the Muslim Students’ Assocation, said the MSA did not meet with Turnbull about the multi-faith room.
Turbull brought the CRO evidence supporting her claim, but Holloway had already made her decision. Elect Connect candidates had been given the chance to provide evidence to support themselves. Turnbull didn’t get back to Holloway until after she had gathered her own evidence and prepared a ruling, Holloway said.
“I made a ruling based on, I think, very solid evidence and the other side hadn’t provided any evidence to contradict that,” she said, adding that she would review her ruling.
The ruling, issued on Feb. 13, also upheld complaints about statements about Elect Connect vice-president finance and services candidate Simon Rossiter. The letter claimed Rossiter started the RSU’s first Equity in Action conference, but in her decision, Holloway said the idea was put forth by RSU Equity and Campaigns organizer Denise Hammond.
Rossiter was given 10 demerit points for intentional misrepresentation of facts. Because they had co-signed the letter, Elect Connect vice-presidential candidates Rohan Singh and Gaya Arasaratnam were found to have committed unintentional misrepresentation of facts and were given three demerit points each. Holloway planned to send an e-mail to student groups and the campus press in order to publicize the corrections, but the Eyeopener did not receive it by press time.
Turnbull disagreed with this decision. “The CRO, apparently a non-biased resource, is the one sending out this e-mail which is totally going to discredit a candidate and give an advantage to the other side,” she said, adding that she may consider legal action if the e-mail is sent. Holloway said she didn’t think her decision was inappropriate.
She said she made the best possible decision with the evidence she had. Holloway said she was reviewing the evidence and that any e-mail would be fair to both sides.