The Liard First Nation election saga continues.
It is set to have a special community meeting next Feb. 4 to start its election process, two months after the deadline for the regularly scheduled election came and went.
On Tuesday, LFN Chief Daniel Morris announced the special meeting, during which an election committee is to be created to oversee the election.
In a release sent out by a B.C. communications firm, Morris said he was serious about his duty to follow the election regulations.
It made no mention of the fact that Morris has little choice, with Canada’s federal court keeping a close eye on the meeting.
On Dec. 29, Judge Roger Lafreniere ordered that if the special community meeting doesn’t take place on Feb. 4, citizens who are suing Morris and LFN over the missed election can have the matter heard.
Lafreniere also requested that the First Nation provide a report on the special community meeting within two business days.
Morris also didn’t explain why he needed $40,000, a sum he requested from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), to organize the meeting.
In December, INAC granted LFN the $40,000, requesting in turn that the First Nation provide a report of how the meeting went.
The Daylu Dena Council is administering the funds. INAC says that’s because, unlike LFN, the Daylu Dena Council is not under third-party management.
But there have been suspicions in the community that the Canada Revenue Agency seized LFN’s bank account in 2016 over unpaid taxes.
The CRA won’t confirm whether that’s true.
In the release, Morris blames the third-party management for the delay in securing financing for the meeting.
“We have been working with our negotiation team to obtain funding from INAC to hold the special community meeting as set out in our election code, and to seek reprieve from the third-party management that has been imposed on us,” Morris said in the press release.
“Our hands have unfortunately been tied to date as we work on this and other pressing matters related to LFN, but we are very pleased to have reached agreement with INAC on financing and holding the special community meeting.”
It’s not clear why Morris couldn’t get the money directly from the third-party manager or why it couldn’t have been done six months ago.
Back in October, George Morgan, a candidate for chief and Morris’s most vocal opponent, told the News he had been assured by the third-party manager, Ganhada Management Group, that funds earmarked for the election would be given out.
The LFN election saga first started in July 2016 when concerned LFN citizens went public after Morris missed a first deadline to establish the election committee.
In September, 80 citizens gathered and formed their own independent election committee, but INAC, it seems, refused to recognize its legitimacy.
The group turned to the federal court in late October, seeking funds for the election and to have Morris barred from the LFN bank account after his term expired on Dec. 16, 2016.
Contact Pierre Chauvin at firstname.lastname@example.org