POLITICS
08/30/2011 07:19 EDT | Updated 10/30/2011 05:12 EDT

Saskatchewan judge says Lonechild's suspension as FSIN chief invalid

SASKATOON - A Queen's Bench judge has quashed the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations' suspension of its chief Guy Lonechild.

Justice Ronald Mills said in a written decision released late Tuesday afternoon that federation's executive council did not follow its own rules when it voted to suspend Lonechild.

"On Aug. 4, Guy Lonechild was improperly and without legal authority suspended as chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations," Mills wrote.

"The meeting, purportedly under the authority of the executive council and Indian Government Commission, assumed authority not granted to it by the FSIN and denied to Chief Lonechild the basic principles of natural justice."

Mills said his ruling sets asides the decisions made by the FSIN executive council, including the special meeting called for Sept. 1 to take a vote of non confidence in Lonechild.

But Mills also said an application for a vote of non confidence can still be taken in accordance with the rules of the federation.

The judge noted that those involved in the process to suspend Lonechild did not know what to do.

"There was considerable uncertainty with respect to the process to be followed... it is clear from the material and the comments made during the hearing that some people present had a personal agenda that they wished to press forward."

Mills said the FSIN should have taken more steps to ensure the process was followed to the letter, given it was the first time that an application for a vote of non confidence in the chief of the group was made.

"The importance of this process to the FSIN...and to all First Nations individuals throughout the province should have made those responsible for the process to be vigilant in ensuring that it was conducted fairly and impartially with respect to all those involved."

The suspension came after Lonechild was convicted of drunk driving in March. He was charged by Saskatoon police on Sept. 3, 2009, and seven days later, he applied to run for chief of FSIN.

Lonechild was elected on Oct. 29, 2009, but did not publicly announce his drunk driving charge before the election.

It wasn't until this year, in February, that the media reported that Lonechild was facing the charge.

At FSIN's winter assembly that same month, several delegates called for his resignation. Lonechild refused.