‘Court Upholds Reserve Election Ruling’

In March 2020, the Red Pheasant ‘First Nation’ (RP‘FN’) {a ‘nation’ of 2,570 people} held an election for its chief and councillors. Clinton Wuttunee, incumbent chief, ran for re-election. Gary Nicotine ran for councillor. Both were part of “Team Clinton”. They both won by a significant margin.

The Federal Court annulled Wuttunee’s and Nicotine’s elections. Wuttunee and Nicotine both committed multiple instances of serious electoral fraud and several contraventions of the ‘First Nations’ Election Act, 2014’ (‘FN’EA), including vote buying and related activities, and of the ‘First Nations’ Elections Regulations’ relating to mail-in votes, the court said. 

“Wuttunee’s and Nicotine’s conduct corrupted the integrity of their elections, the Federal Court added. The court identified aggravating factors regarding their conduct. It held that they committed “particularly grave electoral fraud” by using the RP’FN’s funds to buy votes.

“Those alleging serious electoral fraud can show that the candidate’s conduct affected the vote count and corrupted the election’s overall integrity, a recent ruling said. They need not demonstrate that the number of affected votes was sufficient to impact the winner.

“The respondents, who were electors and members of the RP‘FN’, challenged the elections of Wuttunee, Nicotine, and other ‘Team Clinton’ members.

Regarding other ‘Team Clinton’ members, the Federal Court did not annul their elections, although it found that most of them engaged in electoral misconduct {!}.

“In ‘Wuttunee v. Whitford, 2023 FCA 18’, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed Wuttunee’s and Nicotine’s appeal.


“The appellate court noted that the Federal Court recognized the following:

–Persons challenging an election had the burden of proof to show facts that would justify annulment since elections had the presumption of regularity;

–The number of ballots that Wuttunee’s and Nicotine’s misconduct corrupted did not satisfy the “magic number” test, which the Supreme Court of Canada applied in ‘Opitz v. Wrzesnewskyj, 2012 SCC 55’;

–Annulling Wuttunee’s and Nicotine’s elections would lead to the disenfranchisement of the electors who legitimately supported them;

“Nevertheless, the Federal Court was entitled to annul Wuttunee’s and Nicotine’s elections, the Federal Court of Appeal said. It did not commit any error in annulling these elections, the appellate court added.

“Under s. 35(1) of the ‘FN’EA, the Federal Court had the discretion to annul elections if it believed that it was appropriate to do so, as long as the contravention was likely to affect the election results. Here, the Federal Court knew that it had such discretion, identified the relevant legal principles, and explained why it was appropriate to annul Wuttunee’s and Nicotine’s elections, the appellate court said.

“‘Whitford v. Chakita, 2023 FCA 17’ involved a separate appeal relating to other ‘Team Clinton’ members. The Federal Court of Appeal also dismissed this appeal.


“The Federal Court committed no palpable and overriding error, the Federal Court of Appeal held. The Federal Court had the discretion not to annul elections in cases involving fraud or other forms of electoral corruption. It balanced the aggravating and mitigating factors before exercising its discretion not to annul the elections of the other ‘Team Clinton’ members, the appellate court said.”

–‘Federal Court of Appeal rejects appeals from First Nation election rulings’,

Bernise Carolino, CanadianLawyerMag, 09 Feb 2023


And it’s not the first time – From 2009:

“The former chief of the Red Pheasant ‘First Nation’ in Saskatchewan was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in jail for orchestrating a vote-buying scheme that won him a 2005 election.

Charles Meechance, 51, pleaded guilty to fraud earlier this year after being charged by RCMP for handing out bribes for Band members’ votes on mail-in ballots.

The results of the election were nullified by the federal government after the cash-for-votes fraud came to light and a new election was held. Sheldon Wuttunee was elected chief in February 2006, defeating Meechance 404 votes to 277.

“The ‘First Nation’ community of about 550 people is located 33 kilometres south of North Battleford, Sask., where court proceedings were held. However, more than 1,000 other voting Band members live off the reserve.

“On Tuesday, Judge David Kaiser called Meechance’s actions “an attack on democracy“, and rejected his plea for a community-based sentence where he would avoid real jail time.

“Crown attorney Mitch Piche said Kaiser left no doubt why Meechance had to be put behind bars.

It would look to the general public, especially to Band members … that he was simply going back into his community and nothing had been done“,

Piche said.

“Piche said Meechance victimized the very people he was supposed to be helping.

Mr. Meechance took advantage of that, took advantage of the poverty and the circumstances of his own people“,

Piche said.

“Meechance was taken from the courtroom and into the custody of provincial corrections guards to be transported to jail. Neither his lawyer, nor any members of his family had any comment following the hearing.”

–‘Vote-buying former chief gets eight months in jail’,

CBC News, Dec. 08, 2009



“The former chief of the Red Pheasant ‘First Nation’ says if he’s convicted of vote buying, many fellow candidates should be, as well.

These charges are not justified. If I am (convicted), then others should be, too”,

Charles Meechance said follow ing his first appearance in court Wednesday morning.

Meechance was quick to add that he’s innocent of any criminal behaviour.

I didn’t do it. I’m still not guilty”,

said Meechance, whose 2005 election victory was quashed by the federal Department of Indian Affairs after it concluded there was merit to vote-buying complaints leveled against him.

“Meechance has since been charged criminally with seven counts of arranging payments to Band members for their ballots. Fellow Red Pheasant resident Bert Benson also faces four counts of helping secure Meechance’s election through the same fraudulent methods. Benson was not in court Wednesday…

“Outside court, Meechance and friend Larry Wuttunee said many ‘First Nations’ elections involve “different” types of campaigns, but would not elaborate. Meechance said many candidates do the same things that he did, but again would not elaborate.

“Meechance, who said he still lives on the Red Pheasant reserve west of the Battlefords, recently got a job on a rock-crushing crew in Alberta. He vowed to run for office again if he’s cleared of the charges.

I’m not done with politics yet. I didn’t want to be chief. The people wanted me to be chief”,

he said.

“After the election results were quashed in 2006, Sheldon Wuttunee was elected chief. Wuttunee won re-election earlier this year. Meechance’s supporters subsequently complained to Indian Affairs that Wuttunee bought ballots, but those allegations remain unproven. Wuttunee could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

“In a 2005 ‘StarPhoenix’ interview, an RCMP officer said they couldn’t do anything about Meechance because it involved a ‘First Nations’ election. But criminal charges have since been laid against Meechance and Benson by RCMP. It appears to be the first time that charges have been laid for vote buying in a ‘First Nations’ election.

–‘Former chief claims innocence’,

JASON WARICK Saskatchewan News Service/Regina Leader-Post, 19 June 2008


See also:

Segregationist Rules Of Governance’ (Tribal Election Codes) {October 2, 2018}:

Because of Canada’s segregationist Constitution, aboriginal Band elections are conducted under a different set of rules from all other Canadian communities…”


Another Fraudulent Band Election?’ (Driftpile) {Feb.15, 2021}:

“…Members of the Driftpile Cree ‘Nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 2,974 people}, a ‘First Nation’ {Aboriginal community} on the southern shore of Lesser Slave Lake {Alberta}, are seeking a re-do of the December 20th election for their Chief and members of Council…”


A Little North Korea’ (Ojibway ‘Nation’ of Saugeen/Nepotism) {June 15, 2019}:

If this was a municipality, instead of a remnant of segregation, all of this backwards nonsense could be ended once and for all:

The ailing and embattled ‘lifetime’ chief of a small Ojibway ‘First Nation’ {aboriginal community} in Ontario announced this month he was appointing his wife to replace him at the helm of the community. Band members vow to fight appointment, fearing continuation of ‘dictatorship’.”


Burnt Church Back In The News’ (Electoral Fraud) {April 25, 2016}:

The entire Band council of Esgenoôpetitj {Burnt Church} ‘First Nation’ {a ‘nation’ of 1,715 people} has been dismissed by a federal cabinet order, after an investigation found evidence of vote buying in the 2014 election…”




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