Federal Court

Aboriginal Peoples

Power to remove by reason of petition was based on enumerated grounds

Election Appeal Committee (“EAC”) of respondent First Nation decided to remove applicant from her position as chief pursuant to their election regulations. Problems arose following applicant’s election as chief on April 12, 2012. Applicant attempted to control assignment of temporary jobs and there were concerns that she was awarding jobs to supporters and family members rather than awarding them on competitive basis. Applicant then sought to appoint new EAC that was more favourable to her positions. EAC advised applicant that such move was contrary to regulations. It obtained sufficient signatures on petition from members of First Nation to convene hearing and have applicant removed as chief. Despite applicant’s refusal to recognize EAC’s authority to remove her from position of chief and her efforts to occupy Band Office, new chief was acclaimed following nomination process in which applicant was not nominated as candidate for position. Applicant sought judicial review to overturn actions of EAC. Application dismissed. EAC’s interpretation and application of election regulations must be upheld. Power to remove by reason of petition was based on enumerated grounds, determination of validity of ground, and if valid, EAC could remove chief or councillor and by-election process was initiated. Process for determining validity was matter of discretion. EAC did not breach duty of procedural fairness. Applicant chose to ignore petition and opportunities to speak to EAC. Applicant availed herself of such procedural rights as she desired.

Bighetty v. Barren Lands First Nation (Feb. 21, 2014, F.C., Michael L. Phelan J., File No. T-770-13) 238 A.C.W.S. (3d) 1.

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