Lac La Ronge Indian Band Members Protest Election Disqualification

Some band members were disqualified from running in the upcoming Lac La Ronge Indian Band election due to unpaid debts. (Supplied by Shay McKenzie)

Band members running for chief and council positions were removed due to unpaid debts to the band

CBC News Posted: Mar 21, 2017

Protesters gathered in front of the Lac la Ronge Indian Band office on Monday calling for band members who were disqualified from running to be re-instated as candidates in this month’s upcoming band election.

Former candidates running for the positions of chief and council were removed due to unpaid debts to the band, such as rent costs.

According to band documents provided to CBC, one disqualified candidate owed $16,678.83 in rent arrears. Another owed $3,100.

One disqualified candidate, Henry McKenzie, claims the debts date back 10 years or more. McKenzie also said he held office as a councillor before and that other disqualified candidates had also run for office in prior elections.

The members were disqualified from candidacy due to a clause in the band’s election regulations which states “conflict of interest means that the candidate has no debt and remaining unpaid to the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, including Band entities, businesses and corporations to which the Band is a majority shareholder.”

The former candidates were notified of their removal from the ballots on Feb. 17, stemming from a band council resolution issued on Feb. 13. The band was giving them until March 10 to pay up.

Band members allege they did not have enough time to offer a challenge to the disqualifications. (Supplied by Shay McKenzie)

The letter cited a section of the band’s election act which states that additions or changes to the band’s election must be “delivered to all families in which one or more Electors reside” three months prior to their adoption to allow time for a written challenge.

If no challenges are received, then the changes can be approved through a resolution, such as the one passed on Feb. 13.

According to the band’s website, Lac la Ronge’s Election Act was revised last October.

A letter addressed to the band’s electoral officer, Milton Burns, alleges there was not enough time given for the disqualified members to respond.

Burns was unavailable for comment. Tammy Cook-Searson, one of five candidates for the seat of chief and current incumbent, could not be reached for comment.

The band’s election is March 31.