Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chiefs protest innocence

Two prairie chiefs are protesting their innocence. One former Saskatchewan chief is denying in court that he bought votes, while a Manitoba chief denies culpability in an unpaid bill that left 1100 without water and dialysis patients heading for the hospital.

The Roseau River First Nation south of Winnipeg was without water for most of the day Wednesday because of a conflict between Chief Terry Nelson and the Pembina Water Co-operation over a water bill of $50,000.

As the reserve went dry, residents canvassed the streets, collecting about 135 signatures, asking the Indian Affairs Minister for the removal of their leaders.

"I think it's his fault why the water is turned off; it's their responsibility to pay the reserves bills," said Kim Larocque, who needed water for formula used to feed the baby she was cradling in her arms.

By early Wednesday morning, the Roseau River water reservoir had run completely dry.

The chief came up with the money to pay the bill in the afternoon, and the water was turned back on.

Back in Saskatchewan, the accused former chief had some interesting comments on band politics.
The former chief of the Red Pheasant First Nation says if he's convicted of vote-buying, many fellow candidates should be as well.

"These charges are not justified. If I am (convicted), then others should be, too," Charles Meechance said following his first appearance in court Wednesday morning...

Outside court, Meechance and friend Larry Wuttunee said many First Nations elections involve "different" types of campaigns, but would not elaborate. Meechance said many candidates do the same things that he did, but again would not elaborate.

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