Ten years after the last attempt to amend their election act, members of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation have given their blessing to a new election code.
Seventy-six per cent of voters who took part in the band’s ratification vote this past Friday were in favour of the changes — while 56 per cent of voters agreed to extend the terms of office for elected officials from two years to three.
The band’s next chief and council election is scheduled for next year.
In drafting the new election code, band officials had noted that the 1994 Election Act, among other things, did not clearly spell out procedures related to the residency of members and where they could vote.
Chief Peter A. Beatty says those concerns have been addressed.
Beatty says the new code also has a lot more to say about a council of elders that will hear disputes:
“The Council of Elders will be elected to oversee the chief and council, I suppose, in terms of if there is any complaints or so on and so forth with regard to conduct. And they’ll be elected — so it will be an elected council of elders.”
He also believes conducting a separate plebiscite on the issue of the length of terms helped the new code to be passed — a lesson that was learned in the failed attempt to amend the old act in 2004:
“So that was a separate vote from the act itself, so I think that was a good way to determine the years of the term. But in the last one, in 2004, the mistake was made that it was written right into the election act.”
The new election code will become law within a month.