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Runner-up for chief appealing election

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 21, 2011

DENINU KU'E/FORT RESOLUTION - As he promised on election night, Tom Unka has appealed Fort Resolution's Deninu Ku'e First Nation's (DKFN) voting results.

Unka, who was the runner-up in the election for chief, filed the appeal on Feb. 15.

Raymond King, the First Nation's electoral officer, said the appeal will be reviewed by a three-person appeals committee on Feb. 21 and he expects a decision will be made that day.

The committee is made up of community residents who are not members of DKFN.

In his notice of appeal, Unka claimed there were numerous reasons to overturn the vote, including possible corrupt practices and ineligible candidates, harassment of himself as a candidate, confusion over times for the opening of the polling station, possible ballot tampering, and more.

"This is not something new. This has been going on with the last election and it carried over into this one," Unka said, referring to an overturned election of late 2009. "Somebody should really look at the matter and straighten it out."

Plus, he questioned the suitability of the electoral officer to hold that position because he is the brother-in-law of the chief.

In the appeal, Unka wrote that a ballot recount would be useless due to his suspicions of ballot tampering and other improper procedures.

"I request a new, proper and fair election be called immediately," he wrote.

Unka said he will take the matter to court, if necessary.

Chief Louis Balsillie rejected all of Unka's grounds for appeal.

"I just about dropped when I looked at this," Balsillie said after reading the notice of appeal. "I'm shocked. I just can't believe it. I'm disgusted first of all because of the accusations that are said that are untrue and unfounded."

The chief added it's a sad thing for DKFN to come to this point once again.

"I feel sorry for our people in the community," he said. "We can never move on. We're always fighting amongst ourselves."

In the election, Balsillie collected 98 votes, compared to 86 for Unka. George Larocque received 14 votes and 11 ballots were marked for Therese Villeneuve, who lost to Balsillie by a single vote in a race for chief in late 2009.

Balsillie, who was elected to a four-year term, had been acting chief for more than three years since former chief Bill Norn was dismissed in late 2007.

Five band councillors were also elected on Feb. 11.

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