GULL BAY FIRST NATION – In a Registered Letter sent out to all candidates dated June 28, 2015 from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) Policy Development and Coordination Branch, Director General Perry Billingsley outlined that the appeal in regards to the results of the GBFN general election held January10. 2015 was dismissed and, as such, the results stand.
“AANDC has concluded that, based on the examination of all particulars and documents filed in connection with the notice of appeal, and on the balance of probabilities, there were no contraventions or violations of the Indian Act or the Indian Band Election Regulations (IBER) that might have affected the results of the election,” stated Billingsley.
AANDC’s letter addresses point-by-point the eleven allegations put forward to the Department by GBFN member Mary Poile in her affidavit made in ‘good faith and for no improper purpose’ sworn on February 20th. Oddly enough, one of the false claims made by Mary Poile was that she did not witness the Electoral Officer examining the ballot box to ensure it was empty.
“The information submitted in connection with the appeal reveals that, immediately before the poll opened, the Electoral Officer indeed examined the ballot box in front of witnesses, and found it to be empty. The box was then sealed. This is further confirmed by the declaration found in the election materials, called the Opening Poll form, which was signed by the Electoral Officer, Deputy Electoral Officer and Mary Poile,” wrotes Billingsley.
“Gone are the days when members who perceive themselves to be on the ‘losing’ side of election results simply file fabricated and fraudulent statements with AANDC to impede the governance mechanism and obstruct operations of their own Nation thereby negatively impacting all members,” states Chief Wilfred King. “Sadly, every time they lose, the opposition here in Gull Bay carries out its seemingly regular practice in the submission of a frivolous and vexatious appeal to AANDC. It only serves to hurt the people they claim they want to govern by shortening the mandate of office thereby handcuffing a legitimate Council from conducting business vital to the community, and planting the seed of doubt in the minds of industry/business partners to as to whether or not they are dealing with the legitimate FN leaders at the negotiation tables and in partnership agreements.”
King goes on to describe the current two-year term of office under the Indian Act as too short and prohibitive. “This appeal has encouraged Gull Bay leadership to explore opting into the new federal legislation First Nations Elections Act that sees the mandate of FN leaderships extended to four-year terms . With a longer mandate, similar to that of provincial and federal governments, FN communities can offer greater certainty and stability to potential project partners and operate within realistic timelines to see proposals evolve from concept development and to the implementation stage. With clearer criteria, members will be presented with ballots that name more truly committed candidates .”
GBFN Council will now legally and operationally evaluate the ramifications of Ms. Poile’s numerous false and misleading allegations contained within her sworn statement and assess the potential damages to the First Nation associated with the loss of 25% of the mandated term of the current Chief and Council’s office in regards to missed opportunities of economic development proposals, capital infrastructure projects, social welfare and service programming to members of the community .
“I am eager to get on with picking up negotiations where Iwas forced to leave off – specifically on the five outstanding claims; (1) larger land base, (2) timber, (3) highway expropriation and (4) Ontario and (5) Canada’s responsibilities relative to the community’s grievances in regards to OPG past hydro electric development which forever changed the landscape and people of GBFN,” says King.
King expresses, “With the completion of this election appeal process, I trust that the few remaining opposition members can finally come to accept the clear and unequivocal endorsement won by me and my Council. Governing our Nation at this particular moment is more serious and critical than any other time in our history, for reasons of which our members are acutely aware. I am firm in my commitment to do the hard work, stand the difficult line, and carry out the advocacy necessary to
steer our Nation in a sustainable, mutually beneficial manner. I do so on behalf of all GBFN Citizens – no matter where their political allegiances may rest.”
Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek – Gull Bay First Nation Chief and Council intends to continue with activities that support the assertion of their Aboriginal and Treaty Rights as they move in a direction towards the ultimate achievement of their own autonomy through the formation of Self-Government.
“I will continue to be a vocal proponent of Indigenous Sovereignty and an ardent champion of Treaties as legally binding agreements. Council carries on with the promotion of our agenda which is solely based on the protection of our Traditional Territory and the promotion of our Citizens,” King stated.