A federal court has returned Karen Bird as Chief of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, putting a halt to a by-election for July 25.

The court ruled Wednesday that Bird is to remain in place until the resolution of a judicial review is conducted on her removal as Chief by the First Nations Elders Council.

In May, the First Nation advised the public that Bird was no longer Chief for “unprofessional conduct, behaviors and lateral violence.”

Bird was accused of being so intoxicated that she had to be escorted from the Dakota Dunes Casino and she got into a fight with a police officer who was escorting her out. The second accusation was that Bird was inebriated at a Prince Albert golf course and crashed a golf cart. Bird states there are rumours that she has a drinking problem, has caused property damage and was criminally charged.

The court found that the Elders Council may not have followed the Election Code before removing Bird. Justice Shirzad S. Ahmed said he had concerns of procedural fairness for Bird. The First Nation argued that under the Election Code, the Elders Council decision “be final, binding, and not interfered with,” suggesting the by-election should proceed as there would be no irreparable harm brought to the First Nation.

“Based on the record before this Court, there is a lack of evidence to support the Respondents’ assertion that the PBCN Council of Elders followed the process outlined in the Election Code when arriving at its decision to remove the Applicant from the Office of Chief and direct the PBCN to take steps to hold a by-election for the position of Chief,” wrote Shirzad. “ I find that it would be in the interest of PBCN membership to grant the interim stay and to preserve the status quo until the underlying application for judicial review is decided on its merits.”