Poster Controversy Cuts Campaign Short

Your Concordia Accused of Smearing Action

Photo Julia Jones

For the third year in a row, the final day of campaigning in the Concordia Student Union elections was marred by controversy. Yesterday, allegations of smear tactics cut the campaigning period short by six hours.

Sometime after 11:00 p.m. on Sunday night, crudely-made posters attacking Action candidates were spread throughout the halls of Concordia’s downtown campus. The posters derided a handful of candidates as “corporate whores” and party animals.

Representatives from Action are pointing the finger at Your Concordia or its supporters, accusing the slate of dirty campaigning just one day before polls open.

“I was shocked. I was disgusted when I saw the signs,” said Action hopeful Teresa Seminara. “It’s scary what these elections have turned into.”

Your Concordia presidential candidate Lex Gill denied any involvement with the poster scandal. Gill said she found out about the posters before 8:00 a.m. on Monday and removed them with her fellow candidates.

“It’s disgusting and it’s not something we condone,” said Gill, who immediately contacted security upon discovering the posters. “We think we have a chance of winning this election, why would we jeopardize that with a cheap stunt? It’s not something we would want done to us so why would we do it to anyone else?”
The vast majority of the posters were removed before 9:00 a.m.

Shortly after the ads were removed, Action filed a contestation with Chief Electoral Officer Oliver Cohen, who—after hours of deliberating—could find no evidence linking Your Concordia to the posters.

The CEO decided to prevent any escalation from either side by stopping campaigning at 6:00 p.m. instead of midnight on March 28.

Cohen’s ruling hasn’t stopped the debate from spilling over onto the Internet, where candidates from Action have voiced their frustration over the controversial posters.

“I hope whoever did this realizes that this is not the Concordia we all want,” Action Presidential candidate Khalil Haddad wrote on a Facebook post.

The posters are the latest development in what has been a week marked with increasingly aggressive campaigning. On March 22, Action candidate Tomer Shavit falsely accused Gill of having been arrested at the anti-police brutality demonstration one week earlier.

Later that week, a Your Concordia council candidate lashed out at Action during a classroom visit. He was reproached by one of his slate’s executives and subsequently apologized to Action and the classroom.
“This is terrible,” Your Concordia hopeful Chad Walcott said of the attack ads. “I have friends on that team and I would never do anything to hurt them. After something like this, it’s tough to go back out there and campaign.”

Concordia security could not be reached for comment by the time The Link went to press. Footage from the university’s security cameras could play a pivotal role in determining who is behind the smear campaign.

A similar controversy emerged on the last day of campaigning during the 2010 CSU elections. The Community slate was accused of posting defamatory stickers on Fusion posters. Community was never found guilty of any wrongdoing and Fusion ultimately won the election by a landslide.

In 2009, an ad truck with a roughly drawn sign for the Change slate drove around downtown on the last day of campaigning. Both Change and Vision denied knowledge of the ad truck. Vision won in a landslide.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 28, published March 29, 2011.