Tory accuses grand chief of abusing position

Tory accuses grand chief of abusing position

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OTTAWA -- The Conservative candidate in Churchill is demanding his Liberal opponent either leave his posting as the grand chief of Manitoba's northern reserves or stop using that platform to run his campaign.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/08/2009 (4851 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — The Conservative candidate in Churchill is demanding his Liberal opponent either leave his posting as the grand chief of Manitoba’s northern reserves or stop using that platform to run his campaign.

Wally Daudrich, owner of the Lazy Bear Lodge in Churchill, says Sydney Garrioch is abusing his position as grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.

Garrioch is running for the Liberals in Churchill while Daudrich is in the race for the Conservatives. The riding is currently represented by NDP MP Niki Ashton.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Sydney Garrioch, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, is running for the Liberals in Churchill.

Daudrich says he was incensed last week when he attended the anniversary of Garden Hill First Nation signing Treaty Five, and the anniversary turned into a Liberal party love-in.

Daudrich says he was not allowed to speak at the event even after being told he could. But he says Garrioch was there in his official capacity as MKO grand chief and delivered a speech praising the Liberals and attacking the Conservatives.

"He made mention of the Liberal platform," said Daudrich.

According to Daudrich, Garrioch even said he’d spoken with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and said Ignatieff was willing to amend the Liberal platform on aboriginal issues to take into account some of the things Garrioch advocates.

"He is using his post as grand chief to his advantage," said Daudrich.

Daudrich wants Garrioch to step down as MKO grand chief.

Garrioch did not respond to calls Wednesday. David Johnson, the executive director of the Liberal Party of Canada in Manitoba, said it was up to Garrioch to reply but said the grand chief was in Red Sucker Lake and wasn’t able to be reached easily.

Jared Wesley, a politics lecturer at the University of Manitoba, said candidates have to be careful about who is funding their campaigns, even outside a writ period since new federal laws were passed restricting who can donate to political campaigns and how much.

Wesley said he doesn’t know who paid for Garrioch to be there, nor was he passing judgment on Garrioch’s actions. He said it’s up to voters to decide if a candidate has done something wrong.

"Conflict of interest is usually judged in the court of public opinion," said Wesley.

There are no hard and fast rules for whether candidates for an election have to resign their job before running.

Recently, another Liberal candidate, Terry Duguid, left his job as the head of the International Centre for Infectious Diseases in Winnipeg to run for the Liberals in Winnipeg South.

But that usually happens after the official campaign begins. In 2008, Conservative MP Shelly Glover remained in her job with the Winnipeg Police Services until the writ was dropped in September. She was nominated to run in Saint Boniface almost two years earlier.

NDP MP Jim Maloway stayed on as the MLA for Elmwood in Manitoba until Sept. 8, 2008. The election was called on Sept. 7.

This is not the first time Garrioch has come under fire for mixing federal political ambitions with his role as MKO grand chief. In 2004, Garrioch was one of four northern chief who spent $17,000 to charter a private jet to fly to Ottawa for then prime minister Paul Martin’s garden party at 24 Sussex Drive. The event was an elite Liberal gathering.

It was also found that MKO had donated over $16,000 to the federal Liberals between 1997 and 2004, the only political party that received any money from MKO.

Indian Affairs eventually cleared MKO of any wrongdoing in how it spent INAC money. However, that was in part because there was no proof as to whether the donated funds had come from INAC.

MKO is funded in part by the federal government. In 2006, the last year for which there are records available on the federal government website, MKO received over $20 million from Ottawa for various programs.

That included $1.55 million in support of the organization itself.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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