Vote-buying allegations fly on eve of Natuashish vote

Three extra Mounties have been sent into the northern Labrador community of Natuashish, amid complaints of vote-buying.

Three extra Mounties have been sent into the northern Labrador community of Natuashish, in advance of Innu Nation elections that have drawn complaints of vote-buying.

There are allegations in the dry community that some of the more than 40 candidates are trying to buy votes with alcohol and cash.

Elections are scheduled for Tuesday.

Prote Poker, who is running for grand chief, said Monday some of the candidates in the election are using alcohol to lure support.

Poker, a leader of the movement to have Natuashish declared dry, said he and running mate Jeremy Andrew are running a clean campaign, and are promoting a platform that embraces healthier lifestyles and helping people to stay sober.

"We're not using alcohol or drugs to get elected — I know the people that are using but I'm not going to mention any names. But I know who they are," Poker told CBC News.

Recurring problem

Vote-buying allegations have been a perennial problem in Natuashish, which was built a decade ago after residents chose to leave the impoverished island community of Davis Inlet.

Some problems, though, have lingered, most recently a resurgence in gas-sniffing.

Natuashish residents have twice voted to keep alcohol out of the community, and have given police authority to search suspicious packages and luggage on arrival.

RCMP have beefed up patrols in the community, and are watching carefully for aircraft or vessels that may be importing alcohol.

CBC News reporter John Gaudi said allegations have been swirling about vote-buying involving booze.

"A 20-year-old woman tells me that she went to a busy house party on Saturday night, [and] she saw several 60-ounce bottles of whiskey being consumed," Gaudi said.

"A women poured whiskey into a cup telling her to vote for the political candidate who was standing there. She obliged — she said if she didn't she wouldn’t get to drink."

Addictions counsellor Rose Poker told CBC News some of the candidates are preying on people's addictions.

The Innu Nation oversees affairs for the Innu people in Labrador. Most members live in the communities of Natuashish, on Labrador's northern coast, and Sheshatshiu, in central Labrador.