Friday October 24, 2014

Ex-chief, four others charged in Mosquito vote buying scandal


An ex-chief of Mosquito First Nation is among five individuals charged in alleged vote-buying on the reserve.

Former chief Noel Stone Jr., along with former councillors Milton Oxebin and Elbert Pahsaknunk, Derek Graham and Anderson Moosomin, have all been charged with fraud and with disobeying a statute of Canada, contrary to the criminal code.

The case against the five individuals came up Monday in provincial court in North Battleford. Their matters have been adjourned to May 12.

The charges stem from the April 14, 2011 band election on Mosquito First Nation, won by Stone. Soon after that vote, opponents appealed the result to the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development alleging corruption. Among the allegations that surfaced at the time was that mail-in ballots used in the election were bought and sold from electors on the reserve. Other tampering was alleged as well.

An independent third-party investigation was conducted. In February 2013, the department declared chief Stone, as well as councillors Oxebin and Pahsaknunk, guilty of “corrupt practice” under s.78 (2)(b) (iii) of the Indian Act.

Pahsaknunk resigned from council in advance of the ruling, while Stone and Oxebin were immediately removed from office and declared ineligible from running as candidates for chief or council for a period of two years.

Now, these three individuals along with Graham and Moosomin face criminal code charges following a lengthy police investigation into the allegations.

Vote-buying scandals have not been a rare occurrence in the Northwest, as other reserves have faced their own issues with election corruption.

Both Charles Meechance and Bert Benson were convicted of fraud in connection to vote-buying that took place during the 2005 band elections on Red Pheasant First Nation.

Meechance won that election for chief, but the results were overturned and a new vote ordered in 2006 by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada after allegations of vote-buying surfaced. Meechance lost to Sheldon Wuttunee in that vote.

Another vote-buying scandal erupted on Moosomin First Nation, where Chief Elliott Kahpeaysewat was removed in 2012 over vote-buying allegations stemming from the 2011 band election there. At the time, Kahpeaysewat pledged to launch a judicial review to fight his removal.



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