Court asked to stop Dakota Tipi election after conflict alleged
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/08/2022 (221 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Dakota Tipi First Nation councillor wants the Federal Court to halt a fast-approaching election, alleging the band’s electoral officer was appointed after previously promising to fix an election “for the right amount of money.”
Coun. Karl Stone filed a notice of application last month in which he asks for an injunction that would prohibit Burke Ratte from continuing as electoral officer. He wants the court to issue an order requiring Chief Eric Pashe and council to set a new date for the election, currently slated for Aug. 31.
In a supporting affidavit filed in Federal Court earlier this month, Braden Pashe, a former driver for the band, alleges he was present at a meeting of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in February 2018 when Ratte told Eric Pashe, then band manager: “for the right amount of money, he could make things happen for you guys.”
“Given the concerning thing that was said by Mr. Ratte prior to the last election, which was overheard by a band member, I believe that appointing Burke Ratte as election officer would be inappropriate given his close proximity to band dealings and business relationships,” Stone alleges in his own affidavit filed earlier this month.
Stone alleges Ratte’s “actual and/or potential business interests” with the band put him in a clear conflict of interest as electoral officer. Ratte is listed as the sole proprietor of Turtle Nation Holdings which, in addition to election services, provides modular homes and multi-purpose recreational buildings, the company’s website says.
Ratte said Stone’s accusations of wrongdoing are “completely false” and he accused the councillor, who is seeking re-election, and his supporters of threatening physical violence during the run up to the election.
“Elections out there are extremely volatile and violent,” Ratte said in a phone interview earlier this month. “Karl Stone had a gang of individuals yelling at us at a nomination meeting… This is a case of sour grapes on Karl Stone’s behalf.”
”I believe that appointing Burke Ratte as election officer would be inappropriate given his close proximity to band dealings and business relationships.”– Dakota Tipi First Nation councillor Karl Stone
Ratte alleged Stone and supporters used threats and intimidation in the 2018 band election. “Four years ago, we were physically threatened by the same group, and here we go again… We literally had the cops on speed dial.”
Reached by telephone Tuesday, Ratte said a recent advance poll in Winnipeg proceeded without incident.
Ratte said he’s been an election officer for First Nations across Manitoba and Saskatchewan for the past 15 years and would never risk his reputation by taking a bribe.
“Why would I engage in that kind of activity and risk forever my ability to act as an election officer?” he said.
Stone, a two-term councillor, alleges in his affidavit he had a good working relationship with the chief and council “until I started asking questions about the band’s finances… The relationship has been a challenge ever since.”
“Karl Stone had a gang of individuals yelling at us at a nomination meeting… This is a case of sour grapes on Karl Stone’s behalf.” – Burke Ratte, electoral officer
Stone alleges when he couldn’t get any answers, Pashe and council accused him of fraud and revoked his access to banking records.
“To the best of my knowledge, there was never an investigation carried out with respect to these baseless accusations,” Stone said.
Stone alleges band council, without his knowledge submitted a resolution to Indigenous Services Canada before Juy 21 to appoint Ratte as election officer.
“I was provided with no notice, agenda, or meeting minutes about any duly convened council meeting about this decision,” Stone said. “I cannot even say that a meeting took place.”
According to his notice of application, Stone, after learning about Ratte’s appointment, asked Pashe for a copy of the band council resolution approving it.
“The chief agreed to provide him a copy of the purported band council resolution appointing Burke Ratte at an in-person meeting the following day,” alleges the notice of application. “At the meeting the following day, the chief then refused to provide (Stone) with a copy of the (resolution) as promised.”
Pashe, in a text message Tuesday, said he was unable to provide an immediate comment.
“We are still working through the current process and there is an internal one as well,” he said.
Pashe is seeking re-election.
No hearing dates have been set and the allegations have not been proven in court.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.
Updated on Tuesday, August 23, 2022 9:12 PM CDT: Adds that Pashe is seeking re-election