Lingenfelter Hopes Reputation On Reserves Not Lost

Friday, May 08, 2009 at 15:29



The NDP leadership candidate at the centre of a membership scandal involving two reserves hopes the incident doesn’t make First Nations voters lose trust in him — and he says he will work even harder now to gain the trust of First Nations and the rest of the province.


Yesterday, the NDP released the terms of reference for an investigation into 1,100 questionable memberships sold to people on the Flying Dust and Waterhen Lake First Nations.


The NDP says it appears they were improperly obtained.


Among other things, the party wants to know why the memberships were paid for with small bills instead of one cheque, and who had oversight of processing the membership applications.


The NDP says it also must be determined who obtained the names of the people on the questionable memberships and how it was done.


Dwain Lingenfelter hopes what he calls a mistake by an exhuberant volunteer on his team won’t make First Nations voters lose trust in him.


Fellow leadership candidate Yens Pederson has called for Lingenfelter to withdraw.


Lingenfelter says he won’t comment on Pederson’s “campaign strategies”.


One of the other candidates in the race for the NDP’s top job says he’s disturbed that the membership controversy involves two First Nations.


Ryan Meili says he wonders if the person who carried out the mass signups deliberately went after reserves.


He says that’s not the type of relationship the party wants to have with First Nations voters.


A northern Saskatchewan politician is coming to Lingenfelter’s defence.


Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger says people need to realize it was a volunteer in the Lingenfelter campaign that signed up new members without their knowledge.


Belanger says anyone who thinks First Nations communities were deliberately targeted by the volunteer in question should know that he is an Aboriginal person himself.


He says people should also remember that Lingenfelter apologized for the mistake and an inquiry is underway.


The lawyer reviewing the questionable memberships is supposed to submit a report on May 12.