Feud over band election heats up

Henry McKenzie. Arthur White-Crummey/Daily Herald

A short phrase in the Lac La Ronge Indian Band’s election regulations is stoking major controversy, just a week before election day.

The regulation, passed in February of this year, defines conflict of interest. It aims to disqualify members with outstanding debts to the band from running for chief or council.

The band administration sent letters to affected candidates, letting them know they couldn’t contest the elections unless they paid back the money it said they owed.

Henry McKenzie was one of those candidates. After a court injunction to block the vote failed, he organized a rally and started a petition.

“They are trying to figure out a way to eliminate the best candidates,” he argued. “It’s against the law. Only the people can change the laws by a referendum – no one else.”

But the band’s lawyer, Peter Abrametz, Sr., said McKenzie misunderstands the law.

“The regulations deal with the administration of the (election) act,” he said. “The act clearly says that the chief and council can pass regulations that cover the procedure, forms and rules of the election.”

For more on this story, see the March 22 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.