Very shortly, we will announce a live community engagement session on the First Nations Election Act in order to gather your feedback and answer questions.
More About the Transition
Tsartlip transitions to a more robust electoral process this winter.
April 2021, with upcoming community engagement, the Chief and Council passed a resolution to replace The Indian Act electoral system with The First Nations Election Act (FNEA).
The FNEA is an act and regulations that were initiated by the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs with First Nations to make improvements to First Nations election processes.
Developed over four years of collaboration with First Nations organizations, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and with the support of the Government of Canada, the FNEA came into effect in 2015. Transitioning from the Indian Act to the FNEA is voluntary and Tsartlip leadership was under no obligation to make the change.
However, leadership reviewed the FNEA and came to the agreement that it would support a stronger, more stable and more effective government and electoral process. The change from The Indian Act to FNEA will come into effect for Tsartlip members in time for the winter election (scheduled for Sunday, December 5th).
The Indian Act electoral system is outdated and in many cases, lacks provisions for common situations within electoral processes. The new system under the FNEA provides improvements in a few important areas: nominations, voting, election results and anti-corruption measures.
Here, we’ve highlighted a few of the key changes and how they will improve the electoral process and strengthen leadership to better serve the membership, this winter.
- Acceptance: Under the current process, nominations are automatically accepted, unless the candidate withdraws in writing. Using the new process, candidates must convey their acceptance in writing.
- Missing a nomination meeting: Under the current process, nominations could be mailed in or made orally at a nomination meeting. Using the new process, there is an additional option for nominations prior to a nomination meeting.
- Member requirements: Under the current process, only candidates nominated for Councilor positions are required to be a member of a First Nation. Under the new process, all candidates nominated for all positions must be a member of a First Nation.
- Electoral Officers: Under the current process, Electoral Officers are appointed by the First Nation council with the approval of the Minister. Under the FNEA, Electoral Officers do not require Minister’s approval. In addition, Electoral Officers are required to have specific certification.
- Advance Polling: Under the current system, there is no provision for advance polling, while the new system does provide for this option 5-10 days before the election.
- Simultaneous Elections: The current system prohibits First Nations from having the same election day. The new system allows for six or more First Nations to hold their elections on the same day and coordinate the same terms of office.
- Mail-in Ballots: Under the current system, mail-in ballots are sent to everyone on the off-reserve membership list. Under the new system, mail-in ballots must be requested and accompany a copy of valid ID.
- Election Time Frame: The duration of an election period has been shortened from a minimum of 79 days to a minimum of 65 days.
- Results: Election results are currently posted on reserve and mailed out to off-reserve members that provide addresses. Under the new system, results are posted on the reserve, the website and social media
- Recount: The current system doesn’t have any provisions for a recount. Under the new system, if the number of votes between a winning candidate and one or more runners-up is five or fewer, the electoral officer must recount the ballots for these candidates.
- Appeals: Appeals currently go through the Minister of Indigenous Services who may conduct an investigation and report findings to the Governor in Council, who in turn may set aside the election on the report of the Minister. Under the new system, appeals are directed to provincial or federal courts, which can, after hearing evidence, set aside an election.
- Ballots: The ballots are remitted to the Minister of Indigenous Services under the Indian Act, whereas under the FNEA, the Electoral Officer must keep the ballots for 120 days.
- Removal from office: Under the current act, a person ceases to hold office when they die, resign or are convicted of an indictable offence. The minister also reserves the right to remove a person from office for corruption and missing meetings. Under the new legislation, the Minister has no ability to remove anyone from office. The removal from office is now predicated on an indictable offence that is accompanied by a 30-day sentence at a minimum.
- Penalties for corruption: Under the Indian Act, there were not any penalties for corruption, including and not limited to bribery, selling or buying ballots. Under the FNEA, these offences are punishable by fines and up to five years in prison. In addition, a person found convicted may not run for five years.
In addition to the above benefits, Tsartlip Chief and Council believe the FNEA act improves Tsartlip self-determination and reduces the input and influence of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs on election proceedings and outcomes.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to Tsartlip’s Administrator, Victor Rumbolt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the FNEA, Click here.
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