Beardy's and Okemasis First Nation votes for Election Act changes

By Bryan Eneas
December 22, 2016 - 2:00pm

Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation is changing their Election Act in time for their upcoming election.

Their current election code was brought in in 1998, with amendments made in 2008 and on Dec. 19, 2016.

Mandatory drug testing for Chief and Council, campaign fees and the reduction down to six positions from eight were added to the Election Act.

Councillor Jeremy Seeseequasis said the inclusion of the drug testing was the most contested change.

“It’s important to the community. Our people have been talking about this for a long time,” he said. “We took the bull by the horns and got the work done.”

Seeseequasis said the idea of drug testing was first raised by the community in 2008. It was overwhelmingly approved but nothing was done.

Now, those running for Chief or Council will have to show negative test results prior to starting their campaign.

Members hoping to run for a leadership role are also going to be required to submit a criminal record check. Potential leaders must have no criminal charges for at least the last 10 years.

“A minor misdemeanor - if you spray painted a building 10 years ago, isn’t going to prevent you from running,” Seeseequasis said. “But a charge of over $5,000 will prevent you from running.”

The move to six councillor positions from eight is a move which will boost other programming in Beardy’s, according to Seeseequasis.

“People see it’s costly to have eight councillors,” he said. “That’s money that can be used in a lot of other areas where we are chronically underfunded.”

Existing portfolios will be studied in the New Year to find a way to balance out the duties for councillors.

“As long as you have strong [program] directors and good boards, the work will continue to get done,” Seeseequasis said.

Those vying for Chief will have to pay $400, while councillors will pay $200. Currently there are no fees in place.

Seeseequasis said since Beardy’s runs a custom election code instead of an Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada election code, the band must absorb the costs of an election.

It cost the band between $22,000 and $28,000 to run the last election in 2014.

Seeseequasis said the Election Act will be ready in time for the March 2017 elections and will be distributed to leadership and community memebrs.


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