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Metis Nation of Ontario Deplores Events Leading to Failure to Elect a National President and Return to the Courts

by NationTalk on October 16, 20071384 Views

OTTAWA, Oct. 16 – The Métis National Council’s (MNC) General Assembly ended on Sunday, October 14, 2007 without electing a National President and the fate of the MNC now referred back to the courts. Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) President, Tony Belcourt called the situation deplorable and avoidable.

“The Executive of the Métis Nation of Ontario worked tirelessly to ensure that we could hold a fair and democratic election for President of the Métis National Council at our Assembly last weekend”, Mr. Belcourt said. “We were on the verge of finally being able to hold a vote to determine the final list of voting delegates, but our meeting was ended so that this decision would be referred back to the courts. We were shocked and dismayed at this decision because if we had taken a critical vote on the motion on the floor at the time, we would have fulfilled our responsibilities to name a National President and we would be in the position of being able to get on with business. We are concerned at the very future, of the Métis National Council itself.”The court ordered on September 17, 2007, that the MNC hold a General Assembly in Ottawa to elect a President. The Court ordered that: no person act as President until the elections, to be held Oct. 13th and 14th; that there be no meetings of the Board of Governors; and that MNC Chief Administrative Officer, Dale LeClair, run the day-to-day operations of the MNC until the holding of the election. The Court further ordered that Mr. LeClair would act as Chair of the General Assembly until the election of a President. The order is in effect until the person elected as President takes office.

Following a day and a half of debate over an issue concerning voting delegates, the Chair declared the meeting adjourned and that he was referring the question of delegate status to the Courts. On Saturday, October 13, 2007, the President of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), David Chartrand, tabled a motion to remove and replace the names of an entire delegation of a Governing Member of the MNC. This is the first time in MNC history that a Governing members’ voting credentials have been challenged. The question of who could vote on this motion became a hotly contested issue.

The Chair initially ruled at the close of business on Saturday (October 13, 2007) that none of the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) delegates named in the motion, could vote on the motion. Métis Nation of Ontario President, Tony Belcourt, challenged the decision on the basis that it violated the court order that specified that Alberta, as a founding member of the MNC would have 15 voting delegates and that if violated the MNC By-Laws which state “At all meetings of members, each member shall be represented by the President”. The Chair closed the meeting shortly thereafter without a decision on his challenge taking place. The Chair asked for written opinions on his ruling and stated that he would reflect on the day’s events and announce his position when the meeting resumed on the next morning.

At the resumption of business Sunday (October 14, 2007), the Chair reversed his earlier decision and declared that seven of the 15 MNA delegates named at roll call could vote on the MMF motion because the MMF motion both sought to remove and then replace these very same seven people. The ruling was because the credentials of those seven delegates were not an issue. Mr. Chartrand immediately objected to this ruling and sought an adjournment so that he could caucus with his delegates and seek legal advice. Following the return to the meeting, further discussion took place and members of all delegations except those of Manitoba loudly called for question on the MMF motion. Rather than putting the motion to a vote the Chair then announced that he was referring the matter back to the Court.

Without the presence of the court-appointed Chair, the meeting ended in complete disarray. The delegations from the MNA, the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) and the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) remained in the Assembly room for further discussion. They were then re-joined by the President of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan (MNS) and other members of the MNS delegation for the closing discussion. The representatives of these four of the five governing members of the MNC then spoke of their commitment to work cooperatively on matters of mutual national concern in spite of the apparent impasse within the Métis National Council.

“We are very concerned that the future of the Métis National Council is now uncertain,” said Belcourt. “It is not clear at this time how the courts will deal with this matter. The Board of Governors, by Court Order, cannot meet. We are very concerned with the future livelihood of the staff and the financial commitments the MNC has made to its creditors. The MNO remains committed to the Métis National Council and its future well-being. We deeply regret, however, that circumstances are such that for the time being, we are powerless to act.”

For further information: please see the MNO website at: www.metisnation.org Or Contact: Chelsey Quirk, Communications Assistant, Work: (613) 798-1488 Ext. 104, Cell: (613) 299-6085, chelseyq@metisnation.org

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