Metis mele continues
Lafferty speaks out against Morin

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Apr 10/00) - The man Metis president George Morin accuses of trying to bring down the Metis Nation, says he's only acting on behalf of the majority of the Metis locals.

Richard Lafferty says 12 of the 16 locals have requested him to work on their behalf and he's taken a three month leave of absence from his job to see the locals are represented.

"This is certainly not a power grab, from my perspective," Lafferty said.

"Sure, I ran in the election and lost by one vote, but I have the support of 12 locals and he has the support of four, so perhaps he should resign."

He said the frozen assets at the Metis Nation were not his doing.

"The Metis Nation bank accounts need three signatures and only the board can appoint somebody to have signing authority," he explained.

"So the three were George Morin as president, Marilyn Pike as vice-president and Joyce Pittman as secretary treasurer."

According to Lafferty, Pike has resigned and Pittman was suspended by Morin without authorization from the board.

"There's two signatures gone and now George is on his own," he said.

The division between the 16 locals came from a resolution passed at last year's Annual General Assembly in Fort Simpson, to define who is and who is not Metis and entitled to be a voting member of the Metis Nation.

Lafferty said according to legal council, the resolution has no effect on the membership.

"There are three legal opinions that point out that the resolution that passed does not change the constitution of the Metis Nation in a way that is significant enough for his point to be valid," he said.

"So those Metis who have status under Bill C-31 are still, according to legal opinion, part of the Metis Nation.

"It didn't change anything," he added.

Lafferty said the locals can define their own constitution without forcing their views on the other locals.

"If the South Slave locals want to have a clear-cut definition in their bylaws, they have every right to do that," he said.

"They should not be trying to impose their ideas and ideologies on the rest of the North.

"If the Gwich'in in Aklavik want Charlie Furlong to be their chief because he is the best man for the job, who is anybody else to say that they can't have him as chief," Lafferty said.

"At the same time, when the Metis want him to be their president, because he's Metis and they feel he's the best man for the job, who has the authority to tell that community they can't have this man as their leader and sit at the table as president of the Metis."

Lafferty said he and those he represents are prepared to hunker down and wait out the president. The next move is up to Morin.

"If he doesn't call a board meeting, he is single-handedly killing the Metis Nation," Lafferty said.