Federal Court

Aboriginal Peoples

Appeal tribunal usurped its role to observe and oversee election

In 2010 applicant was candidate for chief and he lost election by two votes. Appeal tribunal dismissed applicant’s appeal but judge allowed application for judicial review. Second election was to be held in March 2013 and applicant was again candidate for chief. On date of election chief electoral officer posted notice that indicated that applicant owed Band money and was disqualified from being candidate in election. All votes cast for applicant were placed in envelope and marked as disqualified. Applicants appealed. Appeal tribunal upheld decision to disqualify applicant and dismissed appeal. Applicants applied for judicial review of appeal tribunal’s decision. Application granted. Appeal tribunal usurped its role according to Sturgeon Lake First Nations Election Act, 2009 and it usurped its role according to custom to observe and oversee election. Appeal tribunal actively participated in decision to disqualify F as candidate in election. Appeal tribunal did not merely observe and oversee election. Informed person could reach no other conclusion than that there was reasonable apprehension of bias. Appeal tribunal violated procedural fairness and decision was quashed on that basis. Matter was remitted to appeal tribunal for re-determination.

Felix v. Sturgeon Lake First Nation

(Sep. 23, 2014, F.C., Catherine M. Kane J., File No. T-927-13) 244 A.C.W.S. (3d) 754.

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