KSA signs secret deal with impeached former directors
News / February 21, 2012
KSA agrees to pay Dhaliwal and Sandhu’s court costs; signs confidentiality agreement.
By Matt DiMera
The interim board of the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) has reached an out-of-court settlement with impeached former director Balninna “Nina” Sandhu and student Gary Dhaliwal, and agreed to pay their court costs.
A mutual consent order was filed in B.C. Supreme Court Feb. 16, upholding the Nov. 30 special general meeting (SGM) and declaring the impeachments of 13 former directors as valid. In addition, the order upheld the new KSA bylaws adopted at that same meeting.
The consent order also overturned the placing in bad standing of 26 current and former students and staff members. Members in bad standing would not have been allowed to run for office in the KSA or vote in KSA elections.
Sandhu, the KSA’s former director of finance, and student Gary Singh Dhaliwal had filed a petition Jan. 10 in B.C. Supreme Court claiming that the SGM was invalid and sought a court order to reinstate the impeached directors and to place 14 other current and former students and staff members back in good standing as KSA members.
According to a petition filed with the court in January, Gary Dhaliwal had intended to run for office in the next KSA election.
However, in a joint statement issued Feb. 16 by the KSA and Sandhu and Dhaliwal, the 26 have “voluntarily agreed not to participate in the affairs of the KSA in any manner for the next three years, including seeking office as directors of the society.”
The KSA has also agreed that “the former directors, current directors, and other individuals named in the special resolutions at the SGM have agreed not to engage in further litigation regarding past events relating to the society.”
Both of those agreements are not included in the consent order filed with the court.
When asked by The Runner if there were other secret conditions or terms in that agreement that have not been made public, the current chairperson of the KSA executive board Christopher Girodat declined to answer.
“The student association has agreed not to discuss the settlement beyond what’s in the common statement,” said Girodat.
“The parties agreed to a desire to resolve all outstanding issues from the past,” he said, when asked if all cash advances had been repaid and if all KSA electronic equipment had been returned by the former directors.
According to the statement, “the parties and individuals involved in this matter have agreed to maintain confidentiality over the out-of-court resolution and discussions leading to the out-of-court resolution and, therefore, will not be making further statements regarding the out-of-court resolution or discussions that led up to the out-of-court resolution.”
Girodat was unable to say how much Sandhu and Dhaliwal’s legal fees will cost the KSA, but he assured students that the amount will be made public as soon as it is available.
Jonathan Tweedale, lawyer for Sandhu and Dhaliwal, also declined to comment about the settlement, citing the confidentiality agreement. Sandhu did not respond to an email request for an interview before deadline.
With the civil lawsuit ended, the KSA board is no longer prevented from bargaining with their staff’s union, from signing or changing contracts, or from calling an election.
Those restrictions had been agreed to by the KSA’s legal counsel David Borins, after Sandhu applied for a temporary injunction to stop the board from making any major decisions.
Current and former students posted their discontent with the news of the settlement on a Facebook group called Concerned Students of Kwantlen.
“People can dress it up all they want, however the bottom line is this whole saga goes to team Takhar, in the end,” wrote longtime former KSA board member Ken McIntyre in a lengthy post.
Former KSA executive member Steve Lee also expressed his disappointment on the Facebook group.
“It just means there is no justice here, no precedent set for people in the future,” wrote Lee. “It sends the message that it is okay to try this stuff cause in the end you will get away with it.”
According to Girodat, the decision to settle will allow the KSA to start the process of rebuilding, including hiring a general manager.
“Now that the dispute over the SGM has been put to rest, the Kwantlen Student Association can move on to hold elections . . . we can resume working toward a collective agreement with our staff, which has been ongoing for 10 months now,” said Girodat in a Feb. 17 interview.
“We can now commit the KSA’s time and resources back to student services, advocacy, and student representation, under a more accountable set of bylaws designed to put the power back in the hands of students.”