Ousted First Nation chief's bid to regain power 'scandalous': Judge

Terry Nelson. (WINNIPEG SUN FILES)

Terry Nelson. (WINNIPEG SUN FILES)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:01 PM ET

WINNIPEG -- A federal court judge calls former Roseau River chief Terry Nelson's bid to stay in power "reprehensible, scandalous and outrageous."

In a 32-page decision issued Thursday, Justice James Russell ruled against Nelson's claims that he was illegally removed from office.

Nelson and councillors who ceased in their duties as band councillors shortly thereafter are all ordered to pay back Chief Kenneth Henry Jr. and other respondents for legal costs stemming from the September 2011 decision to have them removed from office.

Nelson, the five-term chief of southern Manitoba's Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, was removed from his position Sept. 20, 2011, by the community's custom council, a body of family representatives that was put in place about 20 years ago to act as a check on the chief and council. Henry was elected chief one month later.

"The evidence before me suggests that the Nelson Respondents knowingly flouted the rule of law in order to retain and/or regain power and knowingly created mischief that precipitated a crisis for RRAFN (Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation)," Russell wrote. "They acted for selfish motives, even though two of them (Mr. Nelson and Ms. Patrick) have attempted to argue that the Custom Council has no legitimacy and that they are the Band's democratically elected leaders.

"There is also a strong public interest to ensure that this kind of conduct is discouraged."

RRAFN should not have to resort to expensive Court procedures in order to ensure that its own rules of governance are enforced." Nelson's removal stirred up concerns about the custom council system.Gary Roberts, who served as interim chief before Henry's election, told court that custom council members attempted to hide from him the fact that they were seeking a legal opinion about Nelson's ouster.

"At that Sept. 27, 2011, meeting, one of the councillors, Evelyn Patrick, suggested in my presence, that one of the options that the band council could try, in order to undo the custom council's removal of Terrance Nelson as chief, would be to create a new and different custom council," Roberts testified.

 


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