Letter: AMS officials should step down while running in elections

Oki Nisokowa (traditional respectful Niitsitapi greeting):

First of all I would like to acknowledge that we are located and have conducted AMS electoral affairs on Musqueam traditional lands.

Secondly, I have 17 years of board of director and committee experience. I also have volunteered with Indigenous and non-Indigenous nonprofits. It is using this experience that I address the issue of present AMS elected officials currently seeking further elected office in the AMS elections and the issue of conflict of interest.

Since the nomination meeting I had concerns regarding the current AMS officials that are seeking re-election in this 2018 election. I feel that current candidates that have positions within the AMS, campaign and work during the day, and have access to policy information had an unfair advantage over the new candidates. As an outsider, I believe candidates who have positions within the AMS should not be in their positions for the election process.

On February 24, I contacted and explained events and circumstances that led me to miss the deadline to the Elections Committee. They said they could not do anything, as referendum question approval is the VP Academic’s responsibility.

The current AMS VP Academic, and candidate in the 2018 AMS elections, Max Holmes, also said he could not add a referendum this year.

“The rules governing referendums are set out in the AMS Bylaws, which the AMS is legally required to follow according to the BC Societies Act. The VP Academic & University Affairs does not have the power to offer any exceptions to the deadlines, nor does the AMS,” his email said.

In a later conversation he informed me that I could have brought it to the Council meeting on February 28. I did not attend this meeting as I was preparing for a midterm.

It is my opinion, based on the research provided, that the election official needs to address the issue of current AMS elected officials who seek positions in AMS elections and the issue of conflict of interest. The election official needs to take into consideration the following:

  • Current candidates who hold an office within the AMS are paid
  • Current candidates who hold positions within the AMS being required to step back from their positions for the duration of the election would put each candidate running on the same playing field. Failure to do so puts new candidates at a disadvantage.
  • Platforms are based on individual values and goals that they feel enhance the student experience at UBC, but current position holders may have access to ideas that come from their current position.
  • Candidates that have current positions within the AMS have shared their views and goals with the students of UBC. They have sat in meetings over the year and have an understanding of each other’s views.

The following pages provide information on the subject of conflict of interest at different levels of elected governments locally (AMS), provincially and nationally:

Current policy within the AMS

Alma Mater Society of UBC Vancouver

Sections used: (f), 8. a and b, 11

Existing British Columbia policy

BC Legislative Changes to Conflict of Interest Act [RSBC] Chapter 287

Sections used: Insider information — 4, Influence — 5

Parliamentary Report Re: Conflict of Interest

Issues for consideration by the Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills, Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Discussion and Materials – Potential Major Issues, May 2, 2012

Section used: 3. Application of the Act to Other “Public Office Holders” (Pg.10 – 11)

Additional conflict of interest policies in Canada


Office of the Conflict Interest Commissioner

Sources used: Q1, Q2 (bullet 2 of 3), Q5 (bullet 1 of 4), and Q6

With the information provided and supporting research, the following questions arise:

  • How can the Election Committee ensure that conversations within the AMS do not include conversations regarding the election?
  • How can other candidates be guaranteed that they are not running on an unseen and unheard slate?
  • How can current AMS elected officials explain their ethics on how they can continue to receive payment for work that they are doing while their names are on the ballot?
  • Whose responsibility was it to oversee the ethics of the 2018 election, and to address these issues?
  • How can current Board of Governors, AMS Council and AMS Executives explain the reason for allowing current elected officials to maintain their paid positions and allow their names to remain on the ballot?
  • If a person who is interested in the AMS is facing extenuating circumstances that prevent them from meeting a deadline, why aren't these circumstances taken into account?

It is my hope that the information provided addresses the issue of conflict of interest. Also, that the information is not a personal attack on the candidates, but in fact a seeking of clarification on electoral procedures within the AMS. I hope this demonstrates the need for a change in AMS rules and regulations regarding conflict of interest.

All my Relations,

Rodney Little Mustache

Rodney Little Mustache is a UBC student and 2018 AMS presidential candidate.