Photo courtesy Danny Mirasty, Facebook.
About 60 members of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band were at the Band Office in La Ronge on Monday to protest some potential candidates not being allowed to run in the upcoming election.
Last month, the band's executive director sent a memo to all band departments, businesses and agencies.
It informed them of a change to regulations under the Election Act made by a Band Council Resolution (BCR) which prohibits people who owe money to the band to run for office. The memo also asked all departments to let the chief electoral officer know of anyone who was in arrears.
Henry McKenzie is one of the people who was not allowed to run due to this regulation. He says there were 11 people who were told that they were in a conflict of interest under the band’s Election Act since they had an outstanding debt to the band.
McKenzie says he is unaware of anywhere in Canada where a candidate in any election would be disqualified if they had an unpaid debt.
“A total of six of the elders who were going to running for a seat on council received their notice just before the nominations,” he said.
According to McKenzie, one member received a bill that was over 15 years old for over $48,000.
He says the band membership was not consulted about the changes before they were passed by band council and feels that this discriminates against people who want to run in the election.
The band’s custom Election Act does not include any terms in regard to a ‘conflict of interest’, but the regulations under the act do address it. The regulations say a conflict of interest “means that the candidate has no debt outstanding and remaining unpaid to the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, including Band entities, businesses and corporations to which the Band is the majority shareholder.”
The LLRIB Election Act does allow for changes to be made to either the Act itself or to the Lac La Ronge Indian Band Regulations under the following conditions: those changes must be approved three months prior their adoption and if challenged, the proposed change would have to be voted on by the membership by way of plebiscite at the next Treaty Day of the Band. If no challenge is received, then the changes may be approved by band council by BCR.
Under a clause in the Act titled "Revisions and Amendments,” the chief and council may also approve, by BCR, regulations establishing the "procedures, forms and other administrative rules of administration of this Act.”
A BCR passed last month refers to the "conflict of interest" policy as part of election regulations dated Feb. 13, 2017 that the chief and council have established under the Election Act.
The executive director for La La Ronge Indian Band was out of the province and unavailable for comment.
Calls to the chief electoral officer were not returned.