Band council controversies continue on Penticton Indian Band | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Band council controversies continue on Penticton Indian Band

FILE PHOTO -Newly elected Penticton Indian Band Chief Chad Eneas shortly after his election last year. Eneas and the remaining council members recently heard a legal opinion validating their right to govern, but that's not what the former electoral officer believes.
November 15, 2017 - 3:28 PM

PENTICTON - A Penticton Indian Band member who was the officially appointed electoral officer has gone public in her request to have the band’s present government declared as “collapsed.”

Valerie J. Baptiste issued a press release today saying her responsibility as electoral officer is to carry out the process of the “custom election code,” and that, on two occasions she has declared a failed or collapsed government of the Penticton Indian Band because there are not enough council members to form a quorum.

Baptiste says in her press release she has asked the four remaining council members why she was released from her duties earlier this summer, and has yet to receive a response from council.

“This is my third declaration in writing… consider this notification you have been put on notice the same way you have been addressing the community members, through the news media,” she wrote, adding the federal government has no say in election by custom, but they have "other responsibilities."

Baptiste says she talked with community members about how council is still making agreements on behalf of the band  and yet there is not a quorum.

“Council looked at a quorum from Indian Affairs legislation, but what I’ve seen is they go from our custom elect code to Indian Affairs. They flip-flop back and forth to get their answers,” she says.

"My belief is we are part of the custom election code, and that’s how I’m approaching this whole situation. There are a group of us who were part of putting that code together, and we just know that’s how it should be done,” she said, adding she isn’t using lawyers yet even though she feels she was wrongly dismissed.

Baptiste says the custom election code was created by members of the community in 1974 after the band signed off on elections run under Indian Affairs.

“Present council doesn't have a clue what (the process) is about. They’ve been told, but they choose to go flip-flopping back and forth. I don’t remember ever seeing any of them at any of the band meetings prior to the election,” she said.

“My hope is the election can be stopped in its tracks,” she said.

In an email, Band Communications Officer Dawn Russell was unspecific about why Baptiste was removed from her position but it appears to have come under general political turmoil among members at precisely the time the band was going through a byelection.

"This action is to remove any “appearance” of a perceived bias in hopes that we can move towards a full council table and the continuance of governing duty," Russell said. 

Russell says a legal opinion given present council indicates Penticton Indian Band council only needed to comply with Penticton Indian Band election regulations. Since regulations are silent as to a quorum in council, the chief, with a majority of elected and available councillors, is sufficient for a band council to pass a resolution.

“Because we are removed from section 74 of the Indian Act, the mandatory quorum does not apply in this regard,” Russell says.

Advance poll for election of vacant council positions takes place this Saturday, Nov.18, with the election taking place on Nov. 22.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2017

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