Legal threats forced out Liard First Nation returning officer

One of the candidates running for chief of the Liard First Nation wants to get to the bottom of legal threats that caused the election’s chief returning officer to resign.

One of the candidates running for chief of the Liard First Nation wants to get to the bottom of legal threats that caused the election’s chief returning officer to resign.

The election committee announced March 21 Lois Moorcroft, a former MLA and territorial justice minister, withdrew from the job.

There’s growing discontent among some candidates that the election has been postponed yet again.

Dorothy Hayes, a candidate for LFN chief, told the News her and other candidates want to know what happened.

“I demand to know from Lois Moorcroft what the hell happened that she did that,” she said. “She needs to tell us what made her do that.”

Moorcroft said she signed a confidentiality agreement with the LFN election committee and declined to comment further.

Emma Donnessy, co-chair of the LFN election committee, said Moorcroft’s resignation was the result of “a mixup.”

“We asked her to stay on,” Donnessy said. “We talked about it all day on the 21st when we were meeting, (but) she was adamant she was going to resign.”

Hayes said two candidates who weren’t able to get their nomination papers in on time threatened to sue Moorcroft, which caused her to resign.

Donnessy confirmed that Moorcroft mentioned legal threats had been made against her, but said Moorcroft didn’t go into detail.

“She said somebody was saying something to her,” Donnessy said. “(Moorcroft) resigned because she thought it would be best for everyone if we did it in a fair and open transparent manner. Some of the people didn’t like the way things were run.”

Donnessy said she didn’t want to know the details.

“I’m trying to stay outside of candidate ideas and whatever,” she said. “We’re trying to run the election committee in a fair manner.”

The election is taking place in a community divided between supporters of the current chief, Daniel Morris, and his opponents. Many questions over Morris’s financial management over the past four years remain unanswered.

“That’s how it is here,” Donnessy said. “You have to follow the rules otherwise people will take you to court for anything.”

The LFN election was supposed to take place on April 10. Moorcroft’s resignation has put the process on hold until a new chief returning officer is found.

At that point, the 31-day campaign will have to restart and candidates will have to resubmit their nomination papers.

The First Nation was supposed to hold an election by Dec. 15, 2016, but chief and council failed to organize it.

A number of LFN citizens took the First Nation and Morris to court. Canada’s Federal Court hasn’t intervened yet but has been monitoring the situation. That prompted Morris to hold a community meeting in early February to appoint the election committee.

The meeting descended into a shouting match but the committee was successfully created.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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