Time to lose the rhetoric

Thursday morning’s AMS election results brought new meaning to the democratic mantra “every vote counts.” Team Radcliffe-Wang-St.Clair became next year’s AMS executive when the ballot recount ended shortly before 7 a.m.

Following the second round of counting preferential ballots, the margin between teams was less than one per cent and a full recount was announced around 2 a.m. When the ballots were finally counted and the results released, Team RWS was announced the victor after receiving 50.01 per cent of the unspoiled ballots.

Voter turnout for the AMS election was 40.9 per cent, with 5,585 total ballots cast—larger than in previous years and impressive for a sometimes apathetic student population such as Queen’s.

The election results are telling—there was a clear division in terms of where students’ priorities lie and whom they see as the most apt leader.

On the one hand, it means almost half of voters will be led by a government not of their choosing. Although it was refreshing to see platforms that diverged in terms of their goals and stances, RWS’s 0.1 per cent victory over Archer-Collins-Howard means no consensus was reached.

On the other hand, RWS’s less-than-decisive victory will hopefully mean innovative changes next year—it would be an injustice on RWS’s part to ignore the proposals made by the other teams, which many voters clearly supported.

RWS needs to address ACH’s corporate focus and WCW’s social issues concerns if they want to be truly representative.

ACH’s accounting initiative is a makeover the AMS’s financial face desperately needs.

Team Williams-Cameron-Williams’s

ardent promotion of diversity on campus—an issue RWS also touched on—is a crucial topic that needs to be tangilbly addressed next year, whether in the form of a diversity certificate or institutionalized anti-oppression initiatives.

Closing Tricolour Outfitters is a good idea and RWS would be wise to follow through on it. If replaced by a “green space” as Wang proposed it would aid the team’s aim to create a “greener U.”

President-elect Talia Radcliffe will undeniably have a strong presence. She has a fierce personality and seems prepared to address the AMS inadequacies with which she has become familiar.

We can only hope this race’s tightness will push student voters to take responsibility for the University’s direction. Every vote counts, and St. Clair put it best when thanking her team’s supporters, astutely observing that if one person had forgotten to vote, Team RWS would have been “fucked.”

It’s difficult to say at this point whether some campaign promises were empty rhetoric, but it certainly seemed that way when the Engineering Society’s election results were announced.

For a faculty plagued by accountability and transparency woes—something President-elect Jordan Black said he hopes to improve—EngSoc’s results were far from transparent. Chief Returning Officer Mark Syer told the Journal he didn’t feel it necessary to disclose the count’s final numbers, instead just proclaiming a winner and loser.

Stonewalling reporters and the public reflects poorly on Syer and EngSoc, and offers little credibility to calls for more oversight that have come from chartered accountants, the University’s liquor-licence holder and the EngSoc president-elect, alike.

A free and fair election means publicizing results. Taking someone’s word in lieu of concrete numbers is hardly transparent and doesn’t do much to instill confidence in a faculty plagued by irresponsible administrative and financial goings-on.

Similarly, Arts and Science Undergraduate Society President-elect Jacob Mantle was far from forthcoming following the announcement of his victory early Thursday morning. Mantle refused to speak to the Journal without his running mate Dominique Vanier, who seemed to be missing in action for several hours.

It’s disconcerting to know the largest undergraduate society will soon be run by a duo whose team aspect was lacking before their victory was even announced.

Last night, Team ACH requested a recount of the ballots. Election policy permits only one recount done by hand. Thursday’s early morning recount, however, was done using computers so the request was allowed.

ACH’s decision to ask for a recount was the right one—the team should fully exercise their right to ask for the ballots to be tallied again. Not only is it part of the democratic process, but it will hopefully legitimize the election’s razor-thin margin.

Whatever the final outcome, it’s important the incoming AMS executive regard its win as a narrow victory. The victorious team has a responsibility to make changes that represent the range of needs demonstrated by the election’s close outcome.

We hope whoever takes charge of the AMS next year can make campaign promises mean more than empty rhetoric and can make government accountability more than a sick joke.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.