Liard First Nation election still on despite claims it's postponed, elections officials say

Electoral officials with the Liard First Nation say members can still go to the polls today to vote, despite the deputy chief saying it has been postponed.

Deputy chief opposes vote and says it's postponed, but electoral officials say otherwise

The Liard First Nation has been split by leaders' decision to postpone elections. They were supposed to happen last winter after a three-year term. (CBC)

Electoral officials with the Liard First Nation say members can still go to the polls today to vote, despite the deputy chief's claim the election has been postponed.   

The term for the current chief and council ended six months ago. It was supposed to end in December, but Chief Daniel Morris and two remaining councillors held onto power. 

On May 29, the chief and those two members of council sent a letter to Indigenous and Northern Affairs. It says they delayed the elections intentionally in order to allow more time for an "investigation" into previous leaders.

The band council passed a resolution Saturday dissolving the election committee, ostensibly postponing the election, said Cindy Porter, the deputy chief who was first elected to council in 2013.

"Right now everyone seems to be pushing this election. It just doesn't make any sense," Porter said. "Let's get the answers people want and then have one. It's just a postponement."

"I agree we need an election, but not until the investigation is complete," she said.

Election still on, say officials 

But Emma Donnessy, the co-chair of the election committee, says neither Morris nor any council members have the authority to postpone the election.

"The election is going ahead, as set out in the Liard First Nation rules and regulations," she said.

"They're going about it the wrong way because the election committee is in charge of running the whole process."

She said polls are open as scheduled this morning and continue until 8 p.m. local time Monday.

"The band members can give whoever is voted in, the new chief and council, the mandate to go ahead with the investigation," Donnessy said. "But in the meantime, let's get this election going ahead as planned."

Porter told CBC News Friday that a "quorum of elders" opposes the vote. In an email she said she expected protesters would try and stop the vote.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada does not recognize the 'elders' quorum' as having any legal power to delay elections. Over the last months they have tried to encourage leaders to hold an election and even provided $40,000 in special funding for election meetings. 

The department did not confirm whether it had received the May 29 letter by Friday evening.

The Liard First Nation includes representation from Watson Lake and Upper Liard Yukon as well as Lower Post B.C.

People running for Chief are: 

  • Dorothy Hayes
  • Don Magun
  • ​George Morgan
  • Chief Daniel Morris (incumbent)

People running for Deputy Chief are:

  • Walter Carlick
  • Fred Lutz
  • ​Peter Stone

Nineteen people are running for four council seats in Yukon: 

  • Karen Caesar
  • Alfred Chief
  • Maggie Dick
  • Louis Dick
  • Cathy Dixon
  • Elizabeth Dixon
  • Sam Donnessy
  • Billy George
  • Frank Lutz
  • Shirley Lutz
  • Melissa Magun
  • Kathy Magun
  • ​Kalvin Magun
  • Dawn McDonald
  • Tom Stewart
  • Travis Stewart
  • ​Darryl Stewart
  • ​Terri Szabo
  • Jim Wolftail

Four people are running for two seats as councillors representing Lower Post: ​

  • Tanya Ball
  • Malcolm Groat
  • Melanie Miller
  • Harlan Schilling

Members can vote from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

There are four polling stations: 

Recreation Centre Watson Lake
Upper Liard Learning Centre, Upper Liard. 
​Denetia School, Lower Post BC 
​Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in Whitehorse.