The newly elected Mount Currie band council is trying to stay on course despite allegations this week of a corrupt election and an appeal to recount the ballots.
Council candidate Nadine Pascal, who lost the 12 th and final seat on council by just one vote in the March 7 election, has filed a formal notice of appeal to the federal department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).
The appeal for a recount, which highlights what she says is a "corrupt election process," has had a widespread impact on the small First Nations community.
All 45 candidates for council were notified of the appeal earlier this month. They have 14 days to respond to INAC about it.
"The corruption allegations are inaccurate," said the band's senior administrator Daniel Sailland this week. "However, it's up to this process to verify that. And they will."
When contacted by Pique Newsmagazine , Pascal said she had been asked not to speak to the media. She referred all questions back to Sailland.
Pascal lost the election by one vote, receiving 179 votes to Patricia Willliams's 180 votes.
In her sworn affadavit to INAC Pascal wrote:
"There were discrepancies with the election process and the ballot count which resulted in corrupt practice and my candidacy losing the election by one vote."
Among other things, Pascal said the eligible voters' list did not have updated mailing information for members living off reserve. Of the 1,301 eligible voters, 450 live off reserve. Only 62 band members voted from off reserve and at least 250 did not receive ballots to vote because the band office did not have updated mailing information.
Pascal's appeal also said the ballot sheet was confusing.
Like all First Nations communities, band elections in Mount Currie are governed by the Indian Act Election Regulations. Those regulations are different from other Canadian election rules. Elections BC, for example, requires an automatic recount when the margin is fewer than 100 votes. That's why the votes were recounted in the close race between Liberal candidate Wally Oppal who won by two votes against independent Vicki Huntington in the May 12 provincial election. The recount this week showed Oppal losing by 32 votes.
That automatic recount is not the case in close First Nations' elections.
"There are no provisions for recount (under the Indian Act Election Regulations)," said Electoral Officer Fred Schiffner. "Absolutely none."
Schiffner was in charge of the elections at Mount Currie on March 7. He is the owner and principal of Schiffner Consultants, a company which provides election services to First Nations communities, doing things like providing polling booths, ballot boxes, ballot counting and results posting.
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