The members of the Penticton Indian Band have voted to appeal the results of the 2017 by-election that saw the appointment of five new council members.
On Nov. 22, 2017, the band hosted a by-election to fill the vacant seats, with Inez Pierre, Windwalker Alec, Ernest Jack, Frederick Kruger and Joan Philip being elected. Alec has since stepped down from his council seat.
The membership met for a closed meeting at the band’s community hall on Dec. 12 to cast anonymous ballots either in favour or against hosting a new by-election, according to a release from the band.
This comes after a recent Federal Court of Canada decision ruled that the band must consider a previously rejected appeal by member Jacqueline McPherson.
In the court judgement that was made on July 7, 2019, it explains that McPherson mailed her notice of appeal with supporting materials to the electoral officer at the time, Julia Buck, at the band’s administration office and her place of employment at Westbank First Nation on Dec. 20, 2017 – approximately one month after the election was held.
A copy of the notice was also hand delivered the following day to the administration office, but not all of the materials were properly forwarded by email to Buck that same day.
In the judgement, it is stated that Buck told McPherson she would not be considering her appeal at that time as it was not forwarded to her registered mail address as the band’s electoral office, but “on cross-examination, Buck admitted that there was no way for an elector to learn of the existence of the UPS box address other than by personally asking her to provide this information.”
The reasons for McPherson’s appeal of the 2017 by-election are not known at this time, but following the Federal Court decision the Penticton Indian Band appointed Marcus Hadley as the new electoral officer who would oversee the appeal process.
In November, Hadley issued a release to the membership that as the first step in the appeal process, he provided the council members with a copy of McPherson’s appeal and they were required to vote on whether or not they consider the by-election valid.
The council was unable to agree, so the appeal process continued to the next step which was providing a non-confidence motion form to voters that required a minimum of 15 signatures to move forward to the next step of voting on whether or not to host a new by-election.
Hadley subsequently received the completed non-confidence form so the meeting to vote on hosting a new by-election was called for Dec. 13.
In total, 167 ballots were cast at the meeting with 95 in favour of a new by-election being held.
A nomination meeting has now been called for Dec. 19, 2019.
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