Archive for January 22nd, 2011


you can’t disqualify them all

So it seems that most of the candidates have now run afoul of the slate ban in some way or another. Whether it was unfairly benefiting from unfair (and in my opinion, illegal) third party advertising, or running some blog (which, by the way, was brilliant save for the flagrant violations of the slate ban), candidates have become ensnared in the sticky tendrils of the slate ban with alarming frequency. I can only hope that this begins to spell the end of the slate ban at UBC.

The slate ban is a monstrous infringement on the rights of both candidates and electors, and has overwhelmingly negative effects on the society. When candidates are not allowed to be open about who they support, its not like to predilections are going to vanish into thin air. Justice Brandeis of the US Supreme Court is oft quoted as saying that Sunshine is the best disinfectant. While I don’t neccecarily agree with him with respect to legislatures, there are clearly rooms in a house that need sunlight, and when one artificially walls them off from the sun, icky, icky things start to grow. Elections are, by definition, public. It naturally follows that the information pertaining to the election should be public.

I have always taken a very narrow view of the slate ban, insomuch as I believe that it outlaws a vast degree of behaviours which could, by someone, be considered slating. I believe that I am vindicated in taking such a narrow view, because allegations arise again and again over the nature of the ban and the degree to which it should be enforced. The slate ban drastically reduce the number of women who run for high office in the AMS. It isolates decision making to a small group of well connected students. It starves democracy at its roots.

Some people talk of the merits of relaxing the slate ban. This is folly. It would be impossible to explicitly define all the activities a candidate could undertake during a campaign, and deem each as either acceptable or not. This situation cannot persist as it is – the regulatory system must be all one thing or all the other.

Everyone calls the ‘loose groups of candidates’ slates anyway, but that knowledge is restricted to a privileged few. The electorate has a right to know what is going on, and participate in regulated and regimented political parties. Backroom deal-making is all well and good, but if the machinations behind the ‘Bijan Slate‘ are true, why couldn’t that have happened in the open, with candidates mobilizing to engage more people in their party and their candidacy.

The slate ban has been a complete and utter failure in every possible way. Do not ‘relax’ the ban, repeal it.

Justice Brandeis


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January 2011

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