Louie Mercredi has been restored as chief of the Fond Du Lac Denesuline First Nation, after an appeals tribunal reversed its decision to throw out election results.
The tribunal issued a ruling last week pointing to a “clear violation” of election law, after noting that three polling clerks had voted in the election. That was just enough to make the difference in an election decided by two votes. The tribunal declared the chief seat vacant and called for a by-election.
But on Monday it changed course. One of the tribunal members, Al Sayn, addressed a letter to the band’s chief electoral officer.
“We have unanimously decided to reverse our decision,” the letter reads. “Due to a time factor we feel that there are some issues that were overlooked and things were not followed through in the proper order.”
Sayn continued that there was not sufficient time for the tribunal to properly review the band’s Election Act before stripping the chief of his position.
“There was no time allotted in order to submit a proper decision,” the letter concludes.
Louie Mercredi’s first cousin and main competitor, Kevin Mercredi, was dismayed with the reversal. He said he is considering challenging the matter in court.
He was particularly upset with the meeting he said formally elevated his cousin back to the top position, just hours after Sayn’s letter became public. He said council members and a few dozen others gathered in the band hall Monday evening to declare Louie chief. He said their actions were a way of “denying and subverting democracy.”
“Just a show of hands should not deny me my rights as a candidate,” he said. “This is mob rule.”
Louie Mercredi could not be reached for comment, nor could any members of the band tribunal. There was no information on what exactly prompted their change of view, though Louie had earlier made various arguments challenging his removal from power.
For more on this story, see the Wednesday October 18 edition of the Daily Herald.