01/05/2012 12:10 EST | Updated 03/06/2012 05:12 EST

New election ordered for Innu community in Labrador

OTTAWA - The Federal Court of Canada has overturned a 2010 band council election in the Labrador Innu community of Natuashish and ordered a new vote.

Justice Donald Rennie says there were major problems with the way the original vote was held.

The problems include short notice of the vote, a lack of control of the number of ballots printed, uncertainty about custody of the ballot boxes and a large number of spoiled ballots.

He says the only way to restore confidence in the process is to set aside the 2010 results and hold another election within three months.

The community is one of two Mushuau Innu First Nation communities in Labrador.

It lies on the northern coast of Labrador about 300 kilometres north of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

"I find that substantial problems pervaded this election," Rennie wrote in his decision.

The judge said the disputed election was called on 13 days notice, instead of the usual 21-30 days.

He said no new voters list was compiled, meaning some dead band members may have been listed among those eligible to cast ballots.

The official returning officer was hired only four days before the vote. And there were questions about control of the ballot boxes after the vote.

Finally, the judge called the number of spoiled ballots "unacceptably high."

"It cannot be said that the principles of fairness and impartiality were respected in the election process," Rennie concluded.