Superior Court rejects request for provisional reinstatement of Tariq Khan as SSMU president

Functionality of Students’ Society prioritized by Court

In a decision rendered on June 3, the Quebec Superior Court dismissed Tariq Khan’s application for a provisional injunction to reinstate him as president of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU).

Khan had filed a request on May 29 asking that the Court suspend Elections SSMU’s invalidation of his election as SSMU president, and the SSMU Judicial Board’s subsequent decision to uphold that invalidation. This would have allowed him to assume the office of SSMU president until the full hearing for a permanent injunction, expected to occur in July.

At a hearing before the court held on May 30, Justice Mark G. Peacock sided with SSMU, emphasizing that the argument presented in an affidavit from SSMU General Manager Pauline Gervais was crucial to the decision. In the affidavit, Gervais argued that provisionally reinstating Khan as president would cause “serious inconvenience and additional costs” to SSMU, as “the President-elect Courtney Ayukawa has been undergoing […necessary] training [for her position as SSMU president] since May 1” and “ongoing projects and other executive members’ activities would have to be suspended or slowed down to accommodate the new training of Mr. Khan.”

Khan’s lawyer, François Longpré, argued that a rejection of Khan’s claim to occupy the president’s office on a provisional basis would “irreparably harm” his opportunity to sit as SSMU president, since Khan will complete his undergraduate studies within the current term of office.

Though the Court agreed that “the loss of this opportunity could not be compensated monetarily,” Peacock stated in the judgement that “the court finds it important to also consider the interests of the 23,000+ members of the Students’ Society who […] are entitled to have the Students’ Society meet its obligations to the membership, as the Constitution requires, for Service, Representation and Leadership.”

Peacock determined that, since it is mandatory for McGill students to pay the SSMU membership fee, SSMU is required to “function normally” and make available the services that its Constitution mandates it to offer to all students, and that this functionality would be disrupted if the president is not properly trained.

Khan expressed his disappointment with Gervais’ statements. “[Isn’t it] the job of the administrative staff to be impartial and neutral? […] It is their job. […] They should be doing their jobs, regardless of the political situation,” he told The Daily.

When contacted by The Daily, Gervais said that SSMU was not able to comment before a final decision is made.

Khan confirmed to The Daily that his lawyer and SSMU’s lawyer are currently coordinating the schedule of the full hearing, and reiterated his commitment to the case.

“Regardless of the situation, […] I stood up for something for which I have been wronged, been falsely removed from the office, falsely disqualified, for which I will fight,” Khan stated. “I can’t let those 1785 ballots go down the drain. There’s a very bad precedent that has been set.”