Tuesday September 02, 2014

TIB vote to be challenged in court

Arguments to be heard Monday with focus on mixup in dates

An unsuccessful candidate for Tk’emlups chief will ask a provincial court judge on Monday to overturn the results of last fall’s band election.

Marie Baptiste is petitioning the court to set aside the election results, claiming that an erroneous polling date was mailed to off-reserve band members by electoral officer Marcus Hadley. Hadley was contracted by the band.

“The election was set for Nov. 10, but the electoral officer wrote to off-reserve members saying it was Nov. 27,” Baptiste said on Friday.

Chief Shane Gottfriedson was re-elected to a fourth term by a comfortable margin, receiving 250 votes to Baptiste’s 103.

Hadley’s notice, with instructions for mail-in voting, would have gone out to 377 Tk’emlups members who don’t live on the reserve. Baptiste believes those members were denied a fair opportunity to exercise their franchise.

Only 11 mail-in ballots were received in time to be counted, she alleges.

The erroneous notice, obtained by The Daily News on Friday, includes three references to Nov. 27, including polling time and place, yet only one reference to the correct date, Nov. 10.

Her petition to a judge also claims that Hadley provided the wrong address for voting. Instead of Moccasin Square Gardens, the TIB gymnasium, he refers to Sk’elep School.

If another election were held, Baptiste isn’t sure whether she’d take another run at the chief’s chair. She said she offered her apology to the membership at an all-candidates meeting in October because personal matters had prevented her from putting greater effort into her campaign.

Why launch a court challenge, then?

“What happened in this election, I don’t want to see happen in future elections,” Baptiste said.

Had those off-reserve voters had an equal opportunity, they could have changed the outcome, she contends.

Chief Shane Gottfriedson said he is well aware of the court challenge and plans to listen to the arguments made on Monday.

“My response is simply not to respond publicly until after the court hearing is done,” Gottfriedson said.

According to the voters’ list, there are 902 eligible electors among TIB members. A total of 399 votes were cast for chief in November.

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