Sask. First Nation chief removed from office after evidence of vote buying
Danny Starchief elected chief last year, current council looking at electoral reform
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada has set aside the election of the chief of the Mosquito, Grizzly Bear's Head and Lean Man First Nation.
Last week, the ministry issued an order in council to nullify the election that brought Chief Danny Starchief to office. An independent investigator found evidence of vote buying in the 2015 election, particularly where mail-in ballots were concerned.
This isn't the first time the First Nation has run into difficulties. In 2013, chief Noel Stone Jr. and band councillor Milton Oxebin were declared ineligible to run by the federal government after vote buying was discovered.
As well, a number of elected officials — including former chief Clarence Stone — pleaded guilty to fraud after thousands of dollars of treaty land entitlement money went missing.
Now, the band council is looking at bringing in electoral reform in an attempt to end the problems. Harsher penalties for corruption, as well as four year terms for chief and council are being talked about right now.
"There's going to be a bigger penalty if you get caught," said band councillor Stuart Mosquito. "You'd be sitting out eight years, so that's going to be a deterrent for people that are going to be buying and selling votes."
Mosquito hopes the changes will not only stop corruption, they will make serving the public easier.
"We can't move forward," said band councillor Stuart Mosquito. "The two year term is not sufficient to start businesses with corporations or whoever. And no chief and council has had enough time to show the people that they did something positive."
Right now, the First Nation's five band councillors are running things without the chief. It appears that might be the case until elections are held next year.
Meanwhile, Mosquito said the situation on the reserve continues to be difficult.
"Each chief and council starts out with no money to work with and housing is despair, and the work situation...we need more people working."
The Mosquito, Grizzly Bear's Head and Lean Man First Nation is located approximately 35 kilometres south of North Battleford.