Exception made for Lockridge prior to final Assembly decision

Secretariat Martinez explains unprecedented process for constitution change 

Palmer Lockridge, current AMS Speaker and newly-validated AMS Executive candidate.
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For AMS Secretariat Miguel Martinez, an unprecedented decision in AMS Assembly was preceded weeks in advance, by a conversation behind office doors. For him, the decision came down to the placement of a comma. 

On Jan. 19 in AMS Assembly, a second reading was passed to allow a change to AMS Constitution validating the Speaker of Assembly to run for AMS Executive in the upcoming election. The discussion around the eligibility of current Speaker, Palmer Lockridge, at the last Assembly on Dec. 1 mostly centered around the 2013 split of the Speaker and Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) role. 

“When you look at the constitution itself, all the positions that are restricted are separated by a comma however the CEO and the Speaker were separated by a slash,” Martinez said. 

However, the decision was not an impersonal conversation of policy. 

The Dec. 1 assembly was dominated by heated debate over whether the decision was internally influenced. Every precedent set by Assembly meant that changes to any aspect of an AMS role would only come into effect in the following hiring period. 

For Lockridge, the precedent was put aside and the motion passed. Some of the individuals who voted in favour of Lockridge’s eligibility have since emerged as members of his campaign team, as he bids for AMS Executive with Team JPB — with outgoing undergraduate student trustee Jennifer Li and outgoing ASUS Vice President Brian MacKay. 

“To my understanding and to my knowledge, most of his campaign team wasn’t established until after that [Dec. 1] Assembly,” Martinez said. “At that time, most of the members of Assembly who may or may not be helping Palmer’s campaign didn’t know whether they’d be helping.” 

The trio has been collecting signatures for the last week, which were due on Jan. 18.

Their ability to collect a nomination package alone violates a section of AMS Policy Manual 1. The CRO is mandated under the Eligibility clause to ensure the eligibility of anyone who picks up the package, which Martinez says was disregarded for Lockridge. 

“It definitely was not ignored,” he said. “The Chief Electoral Officer made a ruling on the first day back, January 9, which was tentative. His ruling was to allow Palmer to go through the nomination period and the ruling was tentative on the final reading being approved.” 

Martinez revealed that Lockridge had requested special permission from himself and the AMS CEO to do so. The two sat down with the rest of the AMS elections team —  which is the group of students responsible for dictating and enforcing the rules of AMS elections — then sought advice from the current AMS Executive.

“The conversations that they had with us behind closed doors was more me getting the approval from them to get the final approval of our interpretation of policy. Mainly mine,” Martinez said. 

“[AMS President] Tyler Lively has had the position of Chief Returning Officer and several positions in the AMS. I can probably say he knows policy more than anyone in the AMS.” 

In public, though, the Executive team has been mum on the issue. They’ve elected not to vote or comment at either Assembly on their stance regarding Lockridge or his bid for Executive. 

The malleability of policy came to light again during the second reading, when Assembly initially failed to reach quorum. 

Martinez was prepared to move forward under a precedent called the “Speaker’s Ruling,” set down by Sam Anderson, current Student Life Centre Managing Director, during his time as Speaker in 2015-16. The rule dictates that decisions can be made even without quorum in special circumstances. 

The day the rule was established in March 2016, the rulings of Assembly were allowed to be ratified at a later date. On Thursday, the first vote was done with the presence of proxies, and came out unanimous with the current Executive team abstaining from the vote. 

Even member-at-large Alexander Prescott, who was the most verbal proponent against Lockridge’s eligibility in the Dec. 1 Assembly, voted in favour of the constitutional change.

As for the proxies, though, Martinez said their votes don’t actually count for much. “Although they do vote, just to more symbolically represent the actual vote itself, their votes at the end of the day don’t really count,” he said. 

Latecomers to Assembly brought the count to a valid quorum number, allowing the motions to be passed at the end in one fell swoop. 

Though Martinez maintains that a negative vote would’ve rendered Lockridge ineligible regardless of his completed nomination package, Team JBP is now officially eligible to proceed.

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