Federal Court

Aboriginal Law

First Nations electoral officer violating procedural fairness

Government of Aboriginal people


Appeals. KH, DH, and G were members of First Nation (FN) that was holding election. Electoral officer (EO) determined KH was ineligible to run for office due to violation of election regulations. DH received four votes less than least successful candidate but EO determined there would be no recount. KH appealed to FN’s Election Appeal Committee from EO’s ineligibility determination and in relation to eligibility of other candidates, but EO determined his appeal would not be heard. DH appealed to committee in relation to numerous voting irregularities and eligibility of candidate W, and G appealed to committee in relation to one voting irregularity and eligibility of candidates W and C. Committee, with EO as chairman, only considered eligibility of W and C at appeal hearing held in major city away from FN, and appeals were dismissed. KH, DH, and G brought application for judicial review. Application granted; matter remitted for redetermination. EO had himself determined which appeals would be heard, so there was breach of procedural fairness in not having notices of appeal determined in whole by committee. Importance of committee to governance of FN could not be overstated, and it remained for majority of committee to make decisions regarding appeals. Since EO had determined KH’s appeal would not proceed, it was also noted that it would seem obvious to most observers that you should not sit in appeal of your own decision. Location of hearing did not give rise to procedural unfairness since committee could set out its own rules and procedure, location was within range of reasonableness, it was not known why witnesses had not attended, and witnesses’ failure to attend did not in itself render hearing procedurally unfair.

Hamelin v. Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation (2017), 2017 CarswellNat 722, 2017 FC 163, Glennys L. McVeigh J. (F.C.)

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