Election challenges

Whether the recent challenge of the Bigstone Cree Nation election is prompting similar efforts, we can’t say. But it seems likely, given the result in the Bigstone situation.

You’ll recall that due to Bigstone flubbing its voters’ list, some members did not get to vote. A new election was ordered and the person elected chief in October was defeated in December.

No sooner did that happen than some Tallcree First Nation members were disputing the validity of that band’s election. That might have happened anyway, but they must be encouraged by what happened in Wabasca.

The issue at Tallcree (it’s located about 300 kilometres north of Slave Lake) is that 400 off-reserve members were declared non-members and not allowed to vote. At least that’s the contention in a long, angry letter from one of them that has been sent to many parties around the country. One copy ended up in The Leader’s inbox.

Denying off-reserve members the right to vote is clearly against the rules. But if they aren’t members? That would seem to be a blatant breach of their rights, as upheld by the United Nations, among others. But the signals from the federal government – says a source with long experience in the field – are that it doesn’t want to interfere. Seeing that, he speculates, the Tallcree leaders felt they could get away with disenfranchising off-reserve members, who they probably see as troublemakers and a threat to the on-reserve status quo.

The department could step in and force their re-instatement and another election. But the trend – Bigstone notwithstanding – is against such interventions, says our source.

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