By Jason Herring, March 4 2019 —
Current Students’ Union vice-president external Anayat Sidhu has been disqualified from her bid for re-election in the 2019 SU General Election.
According to Sidhu, the disqualification stemmed from her missing the timeline for paying a $25 fine imposed by election officials for a minor sanction. Sidhu incurred the sanction by using her work computer to print off a copy of the SU election booklet. The SU’s 2019 General Election Nomination Package states in section 22(4) that “It shall be strictly prohibited to use SU resources for the purposes of Campaigning.”
The fine was due on Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. Sidhu said she missed the payment because the notice of sanction was not also sent to her official campaign agent and because she was not given a reminder to pay the fee. She also says she was told she couldn’t use her $25 election deposit to pay the fee. Candidates are expected to pay fines via cash or cheque.
“I feel that the decision made by the [SU chief returning officers] was unfortunate and disproportionate to the offence committed,” Sidhu said. “I take full responsibility for printing the election manual from my office computer, but I know other students’ unions do provide election manuals at the front desk so other students can access it. I feel like that goes into the discussion of accessibility to elections.”
The SU says they provide copies of the election manual on CDs at their front desk and that they will print a copy of the manual for students if requested.
Sidhu also said that she missed paying the fee partially because of struggles in her personal life, including significant health problems.
“The pressures that I was feeling with my academics and my campaign and my own personal health unfortunately led to me forgetting,” she said.
Sidhu isn’t sure whether she will appeal the disqualification but said that she doesn’t expect the disqualification to impact the remainder of her term as VP external.
“We can confirm that there have been two disqualifications so far during the 2019 SU General Election,” said SU chief returning officers Hamnah Altaf and Leah Mordo in an emailed statement. “We have followed the process laid out in our election policy and procedure but do not comment on the details of the disqualifications.”
The SU declined to provide the name of the second disqualified candidate, who was one of the six students running for science representative.
Sidhu was elected as the SU’s VP external in a byelection in October 2018 and has served in the role since. The disqualification narrows the VP external race to two candidates: Austin Caron and Sadiya Nazir.
“It’s really unfortunate that I’m not able to run in this race because I really cared about this position and I’ve been part of student politics for a really long time,” Sidhu said. “I’m genuinely passionate about trying to bring change and a positive experience to students on campus.”
The disqualification of an executive candidate in an SU election is a rare occurrence. According to Gauntlet archives, it last happened in 2007, when VP events candidate Hardeep Sangha was disqualified for violating election bylaws.
Voting for the 2019 SU General Election is open from March 5–7 through the myUofC student centre.