Leo defends his record 

Candidate for chief of Mount Currie band facing lawsuit

A candidate for chief of the band that's suing him is defending his record in a pamphlet that was circulated around Mount Currie last Tuesday.

Lyle Leo, a candidate for chief of the Mount Currie band of the Lil'wat Nation, is facing a lawsuit from the very band that alleges he took $95,000 in secret payments from developers of a commercial property in the Lower Soo Valley.

Now, before filing a statement of claim in B.C. Supreme Court, he's circulated a pamphlet around the community that details a host of initiatives he claims to have overseen in his work with the band.

Among those initiatives are upholding relationships with governments including the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, the Village of Pemberton; the Squamish First Nation and the Four Host First Nations (FHFN), which facilitates relations between VANOC and the First Nations participating in the Olympic Games.

Other initiatives include a Forest Stewardship Plan and negotiations towards the transfer of legacy lands at Function Junction, Alpine North and the Callaghan Valley, all in Whistler.

Lands at these sites were just part of 300 acres given over to the Squamish and Lil'wat First Nations for economic development as part of the Olympic Legacy Agreement between the First Nations, the Province of B.C. and the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee.

The First Nations plan to situate a gas station at Function Junction and some housing at Alpine North.

Leo also sat on the board of the 2010 bid corporation, which put together the successful bid that was awarded the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

He's now a co-defendant in a lawsuit by the Mount Currie Band which alleges, among other things, that he took $5,000 a month totaling $95,000 in payments from Delta Lands Development Ltd. and the Delta Group of companies, which was developing a residential and commercial property in the Soo Valley.

A statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court alleges that the money was paid through CRB Logging, the other defendant in the lawsuit, a company that does logging and forest management in areas around Squamish and Pemberton.

The cheques, the claim alleges, were addressed to CRB Logging between January 2006 and August 2007 but Leo was picking them up. The claim also alleges that payments were being made to T'musta7 Aboriginal Consulting Services - a company Leo runs himself - between September and October 2007.

Thus far CRB has filed an appearance in the lawsuit, but as yet neither party has filed a statement of defence, a response to the statement of claim.

Gregory McDade, a Vancouver-based lawyer for the Mount Currie band, said the defendants have until Feb. 27 to file a statement of defence.

A spokesman with CRB Logging declined to comment and did not give Pique any contact information for its attorney. Leo initially agreed to an interview on Monday morning but he did not return subsequent calls on Monday.

Reached last Friday, he said he'd be willing to talk after he speaks with his community. Mount Currie held a community meeting for all candidates Saturday at the Xit'olacw Community School. Media were asked not to attend the event.

The lawsuit was filed by Mount Currie's Chief and Council on Feb. 4, six days after nominations were finalized for the current election. Leo is facing off against incumbent Chief Leonard Andrew, who, along with council, authorized the lawsuit.

Whoever's elected will see the Lil'wat Nation through the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Mount Currie band members go to the polls March 7.

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