Warren McCallum (centre) speaks to his lawyer after leaving court. Photo by Chelsea Laskowski

EDITOR’S NOTE: MBC asked for comment from a number of people leaving court after the hearing, Donald Morin was the only person who agreed to an interview.

It was standing room only in a Prince Albert courtroom for closing arguments about the suspended urban band councillor on Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation.

Warren McCallum was removed from his role as urban councillor with a notice dated Dec. 10, 2015, after a decision was made by the Elder’s Council. The decision came after the Elder’s Council held in-camera meetings, met with McCallum, held a public meeting with urban membership, and consulted with chief and council.

The following month, McCallum made an application to Federal Court to be reinstated, saying the Elders didn’t follow proper protocol under the band’s laws.

Earlier this year, affidavits were gathered from members of the Elder’s Council and McCallum through McCallum’s lawyer Kimberly Stonechild and the Elder’s Council’s lawyer Crystal Eninew.

On Wednesday, the long-awaited closing arguments were heard by the Federal Court’s Honorable Justice St-Louis.

Stonechild argued on McCallum’s behalf that even though PBCN’s laws gave the Elder’s Council authority to remove a councillor, the Elder’s Council erred in its application of PBCN’s laws.

One of those errors, Stonechild said, came in the Elder’s Council decision to consider a petition with about 260 signatures, which made serious allegations about improper conduct by McCallum.

She said the band’s Election Act requires that 25 per cent of eligible electors from the urban membership must sign the petition, and that requirement was not met. According to the funding formula for PBCN’s urban office, 11.6 per cent of the 11,000 PBCN members are considered urban. That number of 1,309 would mean 260 signatures on the petition is not enough.

Stonechild also argued that not all members on the petition were urban, based on the addresses listed on them.

Eninew argued that the Elder’s Council considered the 2015 election final report, in which 1,008 people voted, as it was the only information available to them at the time. That number would fit the 25 per cent requirement.

There were also arguments made related to the Elder’s Council requesting a criminal record check from McCallum, and requesting financials.

In Prince Albert court, there was a mix of those who want him reinstated and those who want to elect a new urban councillor.

MBC News asked for comment from a number of people leaving court after the hearing, and Donald Morin was the only person who agreed to an interview.

Morin is an uncle of McCallum’s, and supported him as a councillor. Morin views the late 2015 decision to remove McCallum as politically motivated.

“There’s people on both sides, people that support him, people who ran against him and lost and their supporters. So there’s always been a kind of tension,” he said.

In February, McCallum filed an injunction to halt a by-election to replace him in the urban councillor position, meaning there has been no one in that role for more than 10 months.

Morin said that absence has been felt.

“As an urban member we’ve lost out lots,” he said.

“Peter Ballantyne is a pretty big reserve, we’ve got 11,000 members so there’s a lot going on. As urban members we didn’t have nobody speaking out for us so we were losing out on lots and we need a voice back in there at the chief and council table, and somebody that’ll address our concerns.”

In closing, Stonechild requested Justice St-Louis to find the decision to remove McCallum from office unlawful and to reinstate him. She asked for McCallum to be awarded costs related to the great financial stress and damage to his credibility that came with being let go without pay.

Eninew requested Justice St-Louis to end the byelection prohibition, to find the Elder’s Council decision was reasonable under the circumstances, and to award costs to the Elder’s Council.

Past related stories:

Ousted Peter Ballantyne urban councillor speaks up

Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation ousts urban councillor

Injunction filed by ousted councillor puts PBCN urban by-election to a halt

PBCN injunction reveals reasons behind byelection postponement