Former Liard First Nation Chief George Morgan poses for a portrait in Watson Lake on June 27. Morgan is going to court over the First Nation’s election this summer that saw him lose his seat to another candidate. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Former Liard First Nation chief goes to court over June election

George Morgan is alleging corruption and bias on the part of the chief returning officer

The former chief of Liard First Nation is going to court over the First Nation’s election this summer that saw him lose his seat to another candidate.

George Morgan has disputed the results of the June 29 election and July 6 recount that put him in second place to Chief Stephen Charlie from the beginning.

In a petition filed to the Yukon Supreme Court July 29, he alleged that there was corruption and bias on the part of chief returning officer Colleen Craft, and that Charlie wasn’t eligible to be nominated as customary elected chief on election day due to residency requirements.

The Liard First Nation election committee and Liard First Nation are also listed as respondents.

The allegations have not been tested in court and no statements of defence had been filed as of Aug. 5.

Charlie, reached by phone, said he had no comment. He previously told the News following the recount that he thought Morgan’s allegations about improper conduct were “sour grapes.”

Craft did not respond to a request for comment. She previously told the News that she’d been instructed not to comment on Morgan’s allegations.

Morgan, who had been elected chief in 2017, lost this summer’s election to Charlie by four votes. Initial results before the recount had put a slightly wider margin between them, with Charlie leading by six votes.

The petition accuses Craft of engaging in “corrupt practices” and making “procedural decisions which indicated a clear bias” against Morgan in an effort to derail his bid for re-election.

It lists several alleged “election irregularities which must lead to the election being overturned and a new election being ordered,” including tabs being torn off ballots before voting, “which could have led to improper voting and spoiled ballots;” the ballot box not being sealed; and Craft placing people on the voters list “without obtaining proper identification or evidence that they were eligible.”

Craft also allegedly evicted people from the voting area and shut down a live feed of voting and, following the recount, refused Morgan’s request for a statement of polls and the voters’ list.

As well, the petition claims that Charlie was a resident of the Northwest Territories leading up to and the day of the election and couldn’t have been nominated as customary elected chief under Liard First Nation’s elections regulations. The regulations, according to the petition, require the customary elected chief to be a resident of the Yukon or Kaska traditional territory in British Columbia, but Craft allowed Charlie to run for chief anyway.

The petition requests a declaration from the court that Charlie was ineligible to be nominated as customary elected chief, or, alternatively, a court order that the results of the June 29 election be set aside and a new election held.

In an email Aug. 4, Morgan wrote that he was bringing the matter to court because “something stinks about the way (the election) was run,” and that it “sets a new low for professionalism and bias in the administration of our elections.”

“A light needs to be shone on the way this was managed,” he wrote.

A hearing date for the petition has not yet been set.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Elections

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