Op/Ed: Ross Gurdwara’s Controversial Committee Resorts To Unconstitutional Methods Ahead of Elections

VANCOUVER, CANADA—Ross Street Sikh Temple Opposition Group says the management is denying them membership list, and Sikh Sangat Society says they may have to go to court again to seek a fair election process.

Last week the opposition group, Sikh Sangat Seva Society of BC, took their grievances to the public and aired the problems on radio. Their main complaints are that they are being denied access to membership lists, denial of equal representation, lack of or absence of a transparent process, denial of requested number of membership forms, denied access to requested financial statements, and the inconvenient times for membership form submissions. They also charged that while forms were being dropped off and picked from peoples homes by the current party Sikh Sangats supporters enrollment times were inconvenient for the working person.

The problem with Gurdwara elections is not confined to any one Gurdwara but is a plague worldwide. Instead of getting along and implementing a fair enrollment process the rulers use every weapon at their disposal to win elections and cling onto power. Hardly a noble or religious act! Many times those in control may not even follow the basic principles of the religion but have a world of wisdom to preach to others.

Just three years ago, after a long lengthy court battle, elections took place in Vancouver at the Khalsa Diwan Society Ross Gurdwara.

There were many problems then as well and they were resolved only through the courts to ensure that there was a fair process under the watchful eye of a third party.

Most members would agree that it only make sense to avoid the legal battles all over again and just simply put the same procedures in place again. Let everyone register and let them pick their executive. Win or lose, everyone should work for the betterment of the Gurdwara but that would be too simple. It seems no one wants to relinquish their power base no matter how long they have had control.

Sikh Sangat stated that they requested membership registration to be available online but were refused. We even offered to pay for the cost and help to monitor, and for the financial records we were told to file a request with the Canada Revenue Agency. Even the current membership list is being denied so we have no idea how many people or who has registered. We have not been given the number of blank forms requested even though we offered to pay for their cost. We also put forth nineteen points to which they have not provided any answers to.

However, one of the most troublesome issues is the denial access to financial statements dating back to 2010. We have tried to work out a fair process since January 2012 and to implement the same procedures from the last election to avoid costs and even had a meeting last month but of no avail. A society cannot function in this manner. Its not a private club but a Gurdwara that belongs to the public and questions need to be answered. “Why do we always need to get lawyers involved even for the simplest things?” Said a spokesperson for Sikh Sangat

Sadly, it looks like these groups will be fighting it out again in the legal arena. Nothing has been learnt or changed since three years ago except for the fact that the opposition is now strongly united.
As for the election process, Justice Smart stated it best, if the membership enrollment is not fair, how can the election be fair?

If there is a court battle, what will be the outcome? Probably the same as three years ago. A previous Judgment stated that, the time has come for this society to conduct a membership process and an election in such a way that its members can have confidence that those processes are fair and conducted in an impartial manner.

Now, is that really that difficult to implement?


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