Three Norway House Cree Nation Band Councillors engaged in corrupt practice in local election



    
    Local election appeal committee finds that promises of over 90 homes and
    giving out furniture to electors prior to an election is corrupt practice
    

    NORWAY HOUSE, MB, Jan. 20 /CNW/ - On January 18, 2009 the Norway House
Cree Nation ("NHCN") Election Appeal Committee ("EAC") has found that three
Band Councillors engaged in corrupt practice during the March 2006 NHCN Chief
and Council election.
    Prior to the March 16, 2006 NHCN Chief and Council election, Eliza
Clarke, Mike Muswagon and Langford Saunders were incumbent elected Councillors
and candidates for reelection. Just days before the election they signed and
delivered 90 letters promising new homes or trailers and also had delivered
furniture and appliances to homes of numerous electors. The EAC found that the
actions of Clarke, Muswagon and Saunders did constitute corrupt practice. As a
result, the NHCN Election Procedures Act requires that those three Councillor
positions be considered vacant.
    An appeal of the election of these three candidates was made to the EAC
based on corrupt practice. The appeal was launched by four other candidates of
the March 2006 election, Alphius Wilson, Andrew Simpson, Henry Moore and
Hubert Hart.
    The members of the EAC were politically appointed by the previous Chief
and Council that included the three candidates. On May 10, 2007 the EAC
dismissed the appeal. As a result, on June 6, 2007 the appellants sought a
judicial review of the EAC decision in Federal Court. On August 18, 2008 the
Court referred the matter back to the EAC and instructed it to consider the
law on corrupt practice and also consider three other Federal Court decisions
that Chief Marcel Balfour won when he was an elected NHCN Councillor in
February and March 2006. At that time, the Court found Eliza Clarke, Mike
Muswagon and Langford Saunders, along with former Council or Fred Muskego and
former NHCN Chief now current Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Ron
Evans all engaged in unlawful conduct, influence peddling and blackmail
against Marcel Balfour.
    In response to the decision NHCN Chief Marcel Balfour said "I am saddened
these individuals engaged in corrupt practice when they were elected
officials. However, their activity is certainly not reflective of the rest of
Council or the NHCN Band as a whole, just these individuals and anyone they
were working with. In this context, it is actually a good day for democracy
for all NHCN citizens and all Canadians and we extend our congratulations to
the appellants for their hard work and perseverance. Giving away homes,
furniture and appliances during an election is corrupt practice. As another
pronouncement from the Court on these individuals it is clear: unlawful
conduct, influence peddling, blackmail and now corrupt practice in elections
has no place in a free and democratic society."
    "It has been over two years since our election and this matter has
interfered with the governing of the Cree Nation. Delay was caused by
restrictions in our election law and by the respondents. I am glad the EAC
made the right decision and now the people can replace these vacant Council
positions in a timely manner" Chief Balfour stated.
    Chief Balfour added "We have already engaged in a renewed process
involving our people to change our election law, a process the previous
leadership denied our people despite the law's mandatory requirement to do so.
The EAC's decision requiring a by-election and our electoral reform will
finally erase the legacy of previous unlawful conduct, set a bold new
direction for our people, and will allow Council and I to finally get on with
providing the proper leadership and good governance that our people justly
deserve."

    Norway House Cree Nation is one of the largest First Nations in Manitoba
with an on reserve population of over 5,500 people and is located about 850
kilometers north of Winnipeg.





For further information:

For further information: contact Chief Marcel Balfour at (204) 232-9990,
or at mbalfour@nhcn.ca

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NORWAY HOUSE CREE NATION

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