Questions raised about Sahtu election
Candidate's campaign literature mailed out with ballots

by Ian Elliot
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 17/97) - An official with the Sahtu Secretariat has sent out flyers promoting her campaign for chair of the organization in the same envelope as the ballots mailed to voters who live outside the Sahtu.

Ruby McDonald's effort has raised eyebrows among voters and the ire of at least one other candidate.

The ballots for the Nov. 28 election were mailed from the Deline office of the Sahtu Secretariat this month.

McDonald, who won an election in August before those results were overturned, is the secretariat's regional implementation co-ordinator and is running for the chair's position against Cindy Gilday and John T'seleie.

Ballots were mailed to voters unable to vote in person in one of the Sahtu communities and when people opened their ballots, they found McDonald's campaign literature inside.

Gilday said on Friday that she had already heard from a number of concerned voters in Yellowknife who received the pamphlet with their ballots.

"I've had a lot of calls from people asking about this," she said.

Gilday said she wanted to speak to returning officer Gordon Lennie, to find out how the mailing could affect the election. "There are different interpretations of this and I want to let him know my concerns and talk to him before I make a comment," she said.

Neither Lennie nor T'Seleie could not be reached last week.

The one-page flyer, enclosed with the ballot and a sheet explaining how to vote by the Nov. 28 deadline, is addressed to all eligible voters and outlines McDonald's background and what she says are her qualifications to hold the chair's position.

A note at the bottom of the flyer says, "Vote for me on Nov. 28," and gives her home telephone number.

McDonald, who did not return several telephone messages last week, was three-term president of the Norman Wells' Metis local and worked for the federal and territorial governments for 22 years. She sits on several committees overseeing land use and planning in the Sahtu.

McDonald won the previous election on Aug. 25, but its results were declared null and void after an unsealed box full of ballots was discovered the next night in the Deline RCMP detachment.

Election officials counted the ballots anyway, but then discovered that there was no voters' list to go with the box.

Other irregularities included no advance polls, eligible voters not given the chance to vote and insufficient time allowed for voters who lived outside the Sahtu region to mail in their ballots.

The secretariat's main task is to oversee the Sahtu land claim, but also administers education and health services in the region.