Re-introduction to the Customary Election Process – Saqamaw Darcy Gray

Brief Introduction

Historically, elections held in Listuguj have followed the regulations set forth by the Indian Act. These regulations have been largely unchanged since 1985. It is the will of the community to have our own Customary Election Code drafted for the people and ratified by the people.

In this proposed election code, we will have a new appeal board, term length will be extended, Councillors will now serve full-time, and the nomination process will be modified.

We highly encourage community feedback as it’s vital to the engagement process. Including the perspectives and thoughts of community members ensures the Customary Election Code truly reflects the needs and wants of the community.

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Customary Election Code Summary

Historically, elections held in Listuguj have followed the regulations set forth by the Indian Act. These regulations have remained largely unchanged since 1985 and no longer meet the needs of our community or our government. It is the will of the community to have our own Customary Election Code drafted for the people and ratified by the people.

This CURRENT WORKING DRAFT of the Election Code is looking to change three (3) key elements of how we conduct elections in Listuguj:

  • Term of office for Council, including Chief, will change from 2 years to 4 years;
  • The number of Councillors will change from 12 Councillors to 8 Councillors;
  • Councillors will now serve as full-time Councillors and must take a leave of absence from their current employment while serving their term as a Councillor.

In the coming weeks, we will be engaging and consulting with the community to see if these proposed changes reflect the wants and needs of our members.

Candidate criteria will include the following:

  • Must be a Member of the Listuguj Band
  • Must have Listuguj Mi’gmaq ancestry
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Cannot have been convicted of a criminal offence within five (5) years prior to the date of the Election,
  • Cannot have been removed from office pursuant to this Election Code three (3) years prior to the date of the Election
  • Cannot be the CEO, the Electoral Officer or the Deputy Electoral Officer

Nominations: A candidate can only be nominated with a nomination and a second, either via mail or at a Nomination meeting. A candidate would have to pay a filing fee ($200 for councillor and $400 for Chief) or obtain the signatures of Electors (20 for councillor or 50 Electors for Chief) supporting their nomination.

Chief Councillor/Vice-Chief: In the past, the Councillor elected by the most votes has been given the honorary title of ‘Chief Councillor.’ In our current Election Code, this title does NOT give the aforementioned Councillor any additional powers or responsibilities. Some First Nations have chosen to use the term ‘Chief Councillor’ or ‘Vice Chief’ in their Customary Election Codes, thereby creating roles and responsibilities to the Chief Councillor, such as replacing the Chief by proxy when they are unable to attend meetings or have been incapacitated and are unable to fulfill their role as Chief. In this current draft of our Election Code, the ‘Chief Councillor’ has been given those responsibilities. As stated beforehand the role of Chief Councillor has never been formalized in Listuguj.

General Assembly: A general meeting of the Members of Listuguj.

The draft Election Code introduces two accountability mechanisms: the Election Appeal Board and the Removal Appeal Board.

Election Appeal Board: The results of an election can be challenged within 15 days following the election if any Elector, including a Candidate, has reasonable ground to suspect:

  • Fraud or corruption practices during the election that undermined the election process or changed the outcome of the vote;
  • The Electoral Officer made an error in the counting of the ballots;
  • A Candidate was found to be ineligible for the position they were nominated for, even if they were not elected.

A three (3) person Election Appeal Board will be formed to review the appeal. The Election Appeal Board can dismiss the appeal and hold up the election or confirm the appeal and order a new election for one or more position based on the appeal.

Removal Appeal Board: The Chief or a Councillor may be removed from office if they:

  • Violate the Code of Conduct;
  • Violate the Conduct of Candidates provision of this Election Code;
  • Refuse to sign the Oath of Office;
  • Refuse to resign their employment as required by the Election Code.

Removal is triggered by a submission of evidence and a petition signed by 25% +1 of the electors, or an Order-in-Council requesting that a General Assembly be held to appoint the three (3) member Appeal Board for the purpose of removing a Council member.

The Appeal Board can choose to dismiss or accept the request. If they accept the request, the position in question will be declared vacant.

By-Election: In this draft of the Election Code, if one or more Council positions becomes vacant a year before an election, a By-Election will be called to fill the relevant position(s). If a position becomes vacant with less than one year prior to an election, the Council position is left vacant.

If the number of vacancies is more than the number to reach quorum for a duly convened meeting, the Council is dissolved and all positions are declared vacant. A by-election is called and day-to-day operations are transferred to the Management Committee, which is made up of the directors and the CEO.

New Election: A new Election can be ordered by the Election Appeal Board. The term of the newly elected Candidate(s) will last for the remainder of the original term of office for the position(s) that was the object of contestation during the Election appeal.

Review: A General Assembly may be called by Council to review this Election Code and propose amendments. A General Assembly may also be called if at least 25%+1 of Electors sign a petition requesting one at least a year prior to the next general Election. The proposed amendments will be written down and voted on (in-person and online) and requires the support of at least 150 Electors before they move on to a referendum. Council will review and modify the proposed amendments before it is submitted for a referendum. Amendments require a majority of votes to pass.

Introduction to Listuguj Customary Election Code draft

Upcoming dates / Calendar

Wednesday, November 24, 2021 – 5:45 p.m.

In-person Election Code Engagement Session – Listuguj Commmunity Development Centre (Bingo Hall)

Election Code Survey

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