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ELECTION PROVES CONTENTIOUS – Stephen Charlie was unofficially elected chief of the Liard First Nation last Monday. Photo courtesy of FACEBOOK

Election results being subjected to recount

A recount of votes for the Liard First Nation chief took place this morning amid calls of foul play from two candidates.

By Gabrielle Plonka on July 6, 2020

A recount of votes for the Liard First Nation chief took place this morning amid calls of foul play from two candidates.

The results were unavailable by press time this afternoon.

Stephen Charlie, who was unofficially elected chief last Monday, says the Yukon government interfered with the election by signing a second Yukon Resource Gateway Project agreement days before votes were counted.

Charlie argues that announcing the agreement unfairly shone the spotlight on incumbent candidate George Morgan.

“Not only is the Yukon Public Government directly interfering, but they are endorsing a candidate of their choice by giving him free publicity and an unfair advantage over the other chief candidates in our election,” Charlie said in a Facebook statement on June 28.

“I think that this is completely unacceptable and unfair to all candidates.”

Charlie argued that Morgan would not have had the authority to sign the Resource Agreement after June 5 as a chief candidate.

“His authority as of that date was the same as mine as chief candidate in the LFN Election,” Charlie said.

“I’ve made inquiries with YG (Yukon government) to explain their actions on why they announced this in the middle of this election process.”

The government and the LFN announced June 25 that an estimated $50 million in improvements will be done to the Robert Campbell Highway, as part of the Gateway project.

According to the results released last Monday night, Charlie received 81 votes, Morgan 75 votes and Travis Stewart came in third place with 70 votes.

Last Thursday, Morgan questioned the integrity of the election process on his Facebook page. 

“Please be advised their (sic) will be a recount on Monday at 10 am. We need everyone there so those inside know we are watching,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s legal counsel, Vincent Larochelle, released a letter Friday outlining his concerns.

It was addressed to Colleen Craft, the chief returning officer, and the election committee.

In the past weeks and through the recent electoral process, Larochelle wrote, his client witnessed conduct which caused him “grave doubts about the integrity of the electoral process.”

The letter stated that Morgan believes some voters were invited to informally cast their ballot ahead of the election.

It says ballot boxes were not correctly sealed, the live feed covering the counting of ballots was interrupted, windows where ballots were counted were blacked out, and a known supporter of Morgan was intimidated.

It also says a scrutineer was not present during the recount, and Morgan was not not provided with copies of the statements prepared for each poll.

The letter also notes that a close relative of Stephen Charlie, was appointed as deputy returning officer.

“In light of the foregoing, and other incidents, my client is of the opinion that the electoral process has been damaged beyond repair....” Larochelle wrote.

It requested that the election committee publicize its efforts to secure ballot boxes before today’s recount.

Morgan suggests that ballot boxes be secured with Watson Lake RCMP.

“I am concerned the ballot boxes may be tampered with before the recount or were even before the original vote,” Morgan said in a Facebook post on July 2.

Morgan also notes on Facebook that this election saw 33 spoiled ballots, which he called an unusually high number.

The letter from Larochelle advises that Morgan is considering legal action regarding the election.

The Star’s request for comment from Craft was not returned today.

Last week, Craft posted recount regulations, which included securing ballot boxes.

She issued a statement addressing the accusations to social media on Sunday.

“The fact is: I worked my butt off to run an election to the best of my ability, with honesty and integrity during a world pandemic,” Craft wrote. 

“We did it safely, members voted while remaining Covid19 Free (sic). I am also a Notary Public, I am held to a higher standard than most.

“To have ONE of the candidates do this, shows that the regulations need to change to include a code of conduct, so this type of behavior would be unacceptable.”

The election was postponed to last Monday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The chief and council received approval on their health and safety plan by Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer, in early June.

Comments (4)

Up 13 Down 6

Catherine Johnsen on Jul 7, 2020 at 6:04 am

As an LFN voting member I find it ironic that Morgan is complaining.. We had to force the call for the election before covid happened, then have a special meeting to continue with the election process due to covid, vote to have secured E voting, all of which was done by the election committee to give us the right to vote as Chief & Council refused.

Now you lose fairly and threaten law suits?
Not once has Morgan addressed members concerns over the deals he made on our behalf... the 50 million deal has us asking what did we give up to get this money... No answer as per usual with past LFN Leadership.

Only about 200 out of 900 eligible members voted.. many have given up after 17 years of zero say or reporting to membership.

Up 5 Down 9

Timeline of project... on Jul 6, 2020 at 4:13 pm

Well there is a clear timeline on this Northern Gateway Project, let's see something that was already in the works since:

Name: Yukon resource gateway project: application for national infrastructure component funding
Last updated: January 22, 2016
Name: Yukon resource gateway project amendment
Last updated: May 7, 2019
to read both/all documents since the 2016 initial application go to the following link::
https://yukon.ca/en/doing-business/funding-and-support-business/learn-about-yukon-resource-gateway-project

New road access improvements to help grow Yukon's natural ...pm.gc.ca › news › news-releases › 2017/09/02 › new-roa...
Sep 2, 2017 - In total, the Yukon Resource Gateway Project will help upgrade over ... the New Building Canada Fund – National Infrastructure Component.

Dec. 5, 2018
https://www.yukon-news.com/news/yukon-government-still-endeavouring-to-finish-resource-gateway-project-on-time-despite-late-start/

anuary 3, 2019
https://www.whitehorsestar.com/News/gateway-still-expected-to-wrap-up-2025

Posted: Jan 17, 2020 8:21 AM CT | Last Updated: January 17
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/nahanni-range-road-agreement-lfn-1.5430291
https://www.yukon-news.com/news/yg-liard-first-nation-reach-resource-gateway-agreement/

March 2nd, 2020
http://www.ckrw.com/news/local-news/yukon-set-to-see-71-million-dollars-in-road-upgrades-for-kaska-traditional-territory/

Third agreement reached for Yukon Resource Gateway Projectwww.renewcanada.net › third-agreement-reached-for-y...
Mar 4, 2020 - Third agreement reached for Yukon Resource Gateway Project

May 20, 2020
https://canada.constructconnect.com/joc/news/infrastructure/2020/05/yukon-road-project-a-468-million-resource-gateway

Jun 25, 2020
https://yukon.ca/en/news/new-yukon-resource-gateway-project-agreement-reached

I am really trying to find it hard to side with the newly elected chief with his claim of foul by the out going chief. When there is this much information about this project just by googling it.

So what this new chief wants to rewind the calendar about 4 years since this negotiations really started ??? Come on give your heads a shake - if you don't know, this was long in the works before any election was thought of.

Up 10 Down 2

Jason on Jul 6, 2020 at 3:52 pm

George, please. You are the chief of LFN. There is no grand conspiracy to unseat you from that position.

Up 19 Down 1

Yukon wilde on Jul 6, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Colleen was the same electoral Officer when George was elected in 2016. He didn’t cry foul on corruption then. In fact he made her an employee of the development Corporation.

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