Election results for student government at Laurentian disputed by 'disqualified' candidate

Some students at Laurentian University are unhappy with results from a recent election. Earlier this week, the student government held elections for the executive team. Two of three candidates running for president were disqualified, including the candidate who won the most votes.

Two of three candidates disqualified from presidential election of Students General Association (SGA)

(Erik White/CBC)

Election results have caused an uproar at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

Earlier this week, the student government — known as the Students General Association (SGA) — held elections for its executive team.

When it came to electing the president, two of the three candidates running for that position were disqualified, including Darius Garneau.

In the final tally Garneau had captured the most votes, but it was incumbent SGA president, Eric Chappell, who was re-elected.

Garneau was told his disqualification was because he posted campaign materials to social media without getting approval from the chief returning officer (CRO) first.

Any candidate running in the Students General Association (SGA) election at Laurentian University, had to have their campaign materials — like this poster from Darius Garneau — approved by the chief returning officer (CRO), before they could be posted electronically. (Submitted by Darius Garneau)

"The strikes I had received were unfair, especially without any warning or any prompt to maybe take them down first," Garneau said.

Critical of recent government

However, he thinks it was because he was trying to stop corruption within the student government. Plus he had been critical of the recent executive team.

"[The SGA] had had several impeachments in the past, and the first time they didn't, they disqualified three candidates and barred one from being a candidate."

"I think that this is the exact kind of reason that I want to run for elections in the first place — to stop these kinds of injustices," Garneau said.

Garneau also thinks his platform caused a stir with the SGA.

"It wasn't a very radical platform, but I know there were moments where I was criticizing how we were doing things," he said.

"I know some of them had taken it as a personal attack, but I'm really just trying to make a difference," he said.

Garneau did appeal his disqualification from the SGA election, but says the three individuals hearing his case all have connections to the previous executive team.

"I did not feel like I had much of a chance," he said.

This list of 2020-2021 SGA election results was emailed to student members at Laurentian University. (Submitted to CBC News)

Justin Pappano, chair of the board of directors of the SGA, told CBC News that the disqualified candidates repeatedly broke the rule of electronic campaigning, not conforming to guidelines. He says they were warned at least half a dozen times.

"They were warned at the beginning of the election," he said.

"They signed filing documents to state they did know the rules, they were warned at every single infraction. The Chief Returning Officer (CRO) was available every day, and there was a final warning given last Friday."

Pappano says there's a misconception that the Chief Returning Officer and the elections committee had a problem with the content.

"There's an approval process which everyone has to go through and three candidates decided to circumvent the process, giving them an advantage over their competition," he added.

The third candidate, Pappano is referring to was a candidate who ran for vice-president, who was also disqualified.

"At the end of the day, there are rules and they have to be equally applied," he said.

On Wednesday night, the board of directors voted to ratify the election results. 

While that board meeting was underway, Pappano said that 40 to 50 students — who were unhappy with the election disqualifications — held a protest outside.

With files from Angela Gemmill


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