Friday, September 05, 2008

Metis Senators Fired After More Voting Irregularities

Gilbert Pelletier was charir of the Metis Senate from 2003 until he was fired last week by the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan (MNS) executive without any reasons being given. As the Star-Phoenix explains, problems with the MNS are nothing new.

The firings of the senators come on the heels of their investigation into "numerous calls from concerned Metis people" regarding MNS executive members, said Pelletier.

"When I get complaints from people about serious issues like this I've got to something. That's why we're here as a senate," he said.

There were allegations that the executive interfered in the voter registry for the 2007 election and that 65 ballot boxes were issued when 136 locals and communities are eligible to vote. Further, people with no Metis ancestry allegedly cast ballots, according to Pelletier, who sought to review the election registry and other materials but has been denied access.

"(Doucette) gives me no reason. He just won't let us see it," said Pelletier. "If things are on the up-and-up there's nothing to worry about. He's in the clear."

At a senate meeting on June 12, a decision was made to suspend Doucette, vice-president Allan Morin, secretary Max Morin and treasurer Gabe Lafond to allow the senate sufficient time to review all of the election materials.

The executive has ignored the motion, he said.

The MNS has been mired in years of controversy. Doucette was declared president after the 2004 election, but later the same day, the decision was reversed and Dwayne Roth was named leader by 26 votes.

Allegations of improper practices emerged after reports of lost and unsealed ballot boxes and of deceased people's names being included on the voters' list. An RCMP investigation was launched and the provincial and federal governments cut off relations with the MNS as well as funding.

Fraud or forgery charges were eventually laid against 13 people, including Roth, who resigned from office in May 2006. The new election date was set and government funding resumed in October 2007. After his victory, Doucette vowed to "have the most accountable aboriginal government in Canada."

"This was certainly not the situation when a lot of (MNS) citizens did not have the opportunity to vote," Pelletier said Thursday. "This is not acting in the best interest of the Metis citizens."

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