Federal Appeal

Aboriginal Peoples

Loss of political office before expiration of term found to constitute irreparable harm

Appellants sought to stay judgment declaring that election appeal committee made final and binding decision requiring new elections for offices of chief and council. Last elections resulted in election of one appellant as chief and three appellants as councillors. Complaints were made that challenged elections, including complaint made by respondent. Committee recommended that election be set aside and new election process be undertaken. First Nation sought to set aside decision and motion was brought to stay decision. Stay motion was dismissed on basis that committee only made recommendation for new election and recommendation was not decision or order that had to be accepted or acted upon by First Nation. On respondent’s application, Federal Court Judge concluded that committee’s decision that new election should be held was binding on First Nation. Appellants sought to stay judgment pending appeal. Application granted. Declaratory judgment was binding and had legal effect. Effect of declaratory judgment was that new elections were to be called without further delay. Chief and councillors of First Nation were bound by judgment and were compelled to implement its effects. There was serious issue as result of contradictory findings. If stay were not granted then appellants would be required to follow committee’s recommendation and call new election. If stay were denied then appellants risked losing their political offices before term expired. Loss of political office prior to expiration of normal term of office was generally found to constitute irreparable harm. Appellants would suffer irreparable harm if new election were held. Appellants had right to appeal and that right would become moot if election were held as result of denying stay. Calling election now would result in more uncertainty and confusion in affairs of First Nation.

Assiniboine v. Meeches (Apr. 29, 2013, F.C.A., Robert M. Mainville J.A., File No. A-102-13, A-101-13) 228 A.C.W.S. (3d) 3.

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