Chartrand's win upheld by court - Metis election challenged by rival
Wednesday, October 20 2004
MANITOBA'S top court has vindicated the contentious 2003 election of David Chartrand as president of the Manitoba Métis Federation after losing candidate and former lieutenant-governor Yvon Dumont challenged the result. "The election was fairly administered and reached a fair result," Justice Charles Huband wrote on behalf of the Manitoba Court of Appeal.
Chartrand, who has been president of the federation since 1997, was re-elected in March 2003 by 20 votes over Dumont, who had been president from 1984 to 1993 before being appointed lieutenant-governor of Manitoba.
After a recount, Chartrand had 3,556 votes to Dumont's 3,536.
But Dumont took the Manitoba Métis Federation to court, arguing that chief electoral officer Alvin Hamilton -- a retired judge -- had not strictly followed the federation's election bylaws. In January, a Court of Queen's Bench judge called for a new election, but the appeal court judges disagreed in a decision released yesterday.
"Everything done by the chief electoral officer was done in the interests of conducting an impartial election," Huband wrote, noting that non-profit organizations cannot be held to the same strict election standards as governments. Hamilton followed past practice by allowing mail-in ballots and permitting additions to the electors' list when regional lists were not up to date.
"This arrangement prevented the inappropriate disenfranchisement of voters," Huband wrote.
As past president, Dumont was well aware of the rules, but never raised any objections until after he lost, the judge wrote. Dumont even encouraged his supporters to mail in ballots and won more of the mail-in vote than Chartrand.
Huband ordered Dumont to pay court costs for the legal challenge.
Chartrand was elated yesterday, saying he always knew the election was valid. "The election was fair, honest and the best structure we can afford."
The Métis president was harshly critical of Dumont for taking the federation to court. Legal costs could amount to about $50,000, which Chartrand said could have been better spent helping people. Dumont did not return calls.
The former lieutenant-governor resigned from an appointed position as Métis National Council governor to run for Manitoba Métis Federation president. The council challenged his right to run because he had signed a pledge not to run for office for two years after resigning.
By Helen Fallding
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