The Council of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation has appointed Campbell River lawyer and arbitrator Paul Love to review the conduct of two Councillors to determine if they should be removed from office.
The need for this review arises from two petitions that have been prepared under the Election Code:
- A petition from the Council seeking the removal from office of Jason Price for reasons set out in the investigation report of John Rich; and
- A petition from band members seeking the removal from office of Chris Drake for reasons alleged in that petition.
The arbitrator will consider, in separate arbitrations, whether Christopher Drake and Jason Price have committed actions that would warrant their removal from office as defined by Section 54 of the Nation’s Election Code. That section says a Councillor may be removed from office on various grounds, including if she or he:
- violates the Election Code, his oath of office or the Code of Ethics;
- fails to maintain a standard of conduct expected of a member of Council;
- abuses his office such that the conduct negatively affects the dignity and integrity of the community or of Council;
- engages in such other conduct as may be determined by Council to be of such a serious nature that the removal is necessary and appropriate.
Section 55 of the Code says proceedings for removal from office may be initiated either by a petition signed by at least 25 per cent of all eligible electors of the Band or by a majority of Council members passing a Band Council Resolution (BCR). In the case of Chris Drake, a petition has been submitted. In the case of Jason Price, Council has passed a BCR and a signed a petition and the process has been initiated with the arbitrator.
The petition statements are not being released while the arbitrator verifies that they comply with Section 55 of the Code. This includes confirming the required number of eligible signatories to the Members’ petition and receiving the reasons and evidence by which removal of each Councillor is sought.
If the arbitrator determines there are grounds to conduct the hearings he will schedule them and send written notice to Council, the petitioners and the Council members who are the subject of the petition for removal (this includes the BCR). These people may make statements and submit documents to the arbitrator. The hearings may also include testimony by witnesses.
Within five days of each hearing, the arbitrator will rule if the petition is dismissed or if it is valid. If valid, the Council positon is declared vacant. The arbitrator may also declare the Councillor disqualified from being a candidate in an election for up to six more years. The arbitrator’s decision is final and binding.