Montreal Lake Band Manager questions legitimacy of upcoming by-election

By Bryan Eneas
October 18, 2017 - 11:30am Updated: October 18, 2017 - 12:24pm

An upcoming by-election for the top spot in the Montreal Lake Cree Nation (MLCN) has been called into question by the Cree Nation’s band manager.

The call for a by-election, or redo for the chief's position, stemmed from a decision released by the MLCN Appeals Tribunal on Sept. 11. Three appeals were initially filed and one candidate, Frank Roberts' appeal was upheld which led to the call for a by-election

Mark D’amato, MLCN’s band manger and Chief Executive Officer, said he was approached by the Cree Nations bankers, requesting $32,000 to fund a by-election. He said he will not be releasing the requested funds because the by-election scheduled for Nov. 27 is illegitimate.

“In order for [the Chief Electoral Officer] to call an election, there has to be a [Band Council Resolution],” D’amato said. “The call for an election has to be by Chief and Council… there was never a [Band Council Resolution].”

paNOW was unable to reach any MLCN councillor to confrim or deny the existance of a resolution. 

According to the Cree Nation’s Election Act, created in 2016 and in place for the most recent elections, a by-election must follow the same process as a general election.

“The Chief and Council shall call for a General Election 60 days before the election or by-election,” the MLCN election act reads under the general elections subheading.  

However, the MLCN Election Act also states any decision rendered by an appeals tribunal is final.

“The Appeal Tribunal orders that a by-election will be called for the position of Chief, on the basis that Frank Roberts was improperly prevented from running in the Election,” the tribunals’ decision on Sept. 11 reads.

The appeals tribunal document states the call for a by-election was to meet certain conditions.

Roberts was a candidate for chief, but also embroiled in a legal battle against the band. He was told either run as a candidate or continue with his judicial review. 

An email chain started on Sept. 21 sent to paNOW by D’amato indicated he had not received any final notice about Roberts’ final decision by the deadline outlined in the appeals tribunal document.

Chief e lectoral officer Clifford Bird issued a release on Sept. 27, calling for declarations of intent to be submitted by Nov. 2, and a by-election to be held on Nov. 27. When contacted he said he wasn’t interested in getting into a war of words with the band manager, but he offered clarity on the by-election situation.

“The by-election is still on,” Bird said. “Nothing has changed.”

 

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On Twitter: @BryanEneas 

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