A web address with the same name as an executive slate running in the 2017 University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) General Elections directed visitors to the opposing slate’s Facebook page Tuesday.
The webpage UMSUUnited.com redirected web traffic to the Facebook page of One UMSU’s campaign for hours before it was taken down anonymously.
UMSU United presidential candidate Oyindamola Alaka said her slate informed chief returning officer (CRO) Michael Catanese upon learning of the webpage.
“[The domain] was registered under fraudulent contact information, therefore there is no definitive proof that One UMSU was responsible for the registration of the domain,” said Alaka.
“However, we will be filing a complaint with the UMSU CRO requesting that he instruct One UMSU to terminate the domain in the event they were the party responsible for the domain registration.”
By Tuesday evening, the webpage was inactive. Catanese said the site was no longer redirecting traffic to UMSU One’s Facebook page by the time he received the initial complaint.
One UMSU’s presidential candidate and incumbent UMSU president Tanjit Nagra refused to comment.
According to the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a group that stores information on the owners of webpage domains, the domain UMSUUnited.com was owned by a Logan Ali of Red Deer, Alta.
The domain was registered on Feb. 27 – the same day election campaigning began. The phone number that was registered under the domain is disconnected, the listed street address in Red Deer does not exist, and attempts to reach the domain owner through the email address provided went unanswered.
Catanese said the initial complaint submitted by UMSU United was retracted late Tuesday. Alaka confirmed her slate withdrew the complaint in order to submit a new one, which they did Wednesday.
In his ruling on the second complaint, the CRO said Wednesday evening that he will not be assigning any penalties to One UMSU, citing his inability to confirm a connection between members of the One UMSU campaign and the website in question.
This is not the first complaint filed by candidates since the campaign officially began. On Monday, One UMSU filed a complaint against UMSU United accusing Alaka of soliciting support for her slate’s campaign through social media earlier than election rules allow.
The CRO ruled in favour of UMSU United, saying that Alaka was soliciting volunteers for her campaign rather than support, which election rules allow.