A federal court application is in the works seeking a judge’s decision on the legitimacy of a recent by-election process on Montreal Lake Cree Nation.

The contested by-election for chief was originally called in September by the band’s chief electoral officer.

During the process, Frank J. Roberts was selected as chief by acclamation after he was the only one to submit a declaration of intent.

Roberts had been disqualified from the band’s general election in March, but an appeals tribunal ruled he should be able to run for the position of chief.

Edward Henderson — who was re-elected as chief during the March election — is still recognized as the MLCN chief, according to a November 27 letter from Indigenous and Northern Affairs to the band council.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs says it is up to Montreal Lake to resolve this matter because the First Nation has a custom election act separate from the department.

Henderson is contesting the by-election and Roberts’ claim as chief. Henderson called the matter a “run-away” process.

Henderson is proposing another general election for chief and council in January to save money on court costs.

“By calling a general election, I hope to end this political division within the bands government,” said Henderson in a media release. “An election is necessary; to clear any misgivings, to restore effective governance and to save the band from the additional expense of prolonged legal battles.”

Chief electoral officer Clifford Bird says the by-election was only for the position of chief and he feels it is unnecessary to call an election for council members, as well.

Bird says his legal counsel has already filed a court application to get a federal judge to rule on the legitimacy of the recent by-election process.

“I am still maintaining that due diligence on my part was taken,” Bird told MBC. “I have done every step I felt was the right step to take in accordance with the election act we have.”

No word yet on when the judge’s decision on the matter will be rendered.