New MNS election date set
- EFN Staff | March 14, 2017
A new Chief Electoral Officer has been appointed and an election date of May 27th, 2017 has been set for the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN-S). After controversy, court injunctions and some false starts, the Métis Nation Legislative Assembly (MNLA) held a successful meeting on February 18th & 19th in Saskatoon.
The assembly was greeted with opening remarks from a number of dignitaries from the Métis National Council (MNC), Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Ian Ketcheson, Director of Métis and Non-Status Relations of INAC expressed the concern from the Federal Government after the last MNLA took place in Yorkton in July 2016 that there wouldn’t be a clear path forward the MN-S. He offered “Congratulations to the delegates for “coming together united behind a common purpose to move the Métis Nation forward...I am pleased to see how much progress is being made.” He also spoke to the opportunity facing the MN-S at this time in the history of Canada. “Exciting times are ahead for the MN-S as the Prime Minister has made a commitment in December of 2016 to sit down and identify shared priorities and determine how the government can assist to ensure that the rights of the Métis are respected annually.” The message of partnership and inclusion is one demonstrates critical steps being taken towards reconciliation.
Loretta Metzger was approved by way of a motion passed by of the MNLA delegates as the new Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to lead a fair and transparent election process. The CEO is an independent officer appointed by the MNLA, which is comprised of duly elected Local Presidents, Regional Directors, and Executive Members of the MN-S. The role of the CEO is to be responsible for the neutral administration of the elections process as directed by the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan Elections Act.
Metzger grew up on a farm in Southeast Saskatchewan, and has been an educator for the past thirty years. She has an extensive background in election administration contributing to the Federal, and Provincial elections, as well as administrating the recent Meewasin by-election held in Saskatoon. “When I was approached to take on this role, I saw it as a good cause and I am quite confident that we can have an excellent, fair, transparent election.” The task will be a big one with challenges that must be dealt with attention and high ethical standards. “The greatest concern [for this election] is reaching out to people in remote area to ensure that we give all the Métis people in Saskatchewan the chance to vote. The plan is to use technology to connect with the Locals to get the message out,” said Metzger.
Changes to the Election Act were passed to work towards removing barriers for potential voters. Of those changes, a vouching system was put in place to aid the elderly and young people (persons sixteen years of age are eligible to vote) in taking part in the voting process. The vouching process will allow those who don’t have traditional forms of identification to legally vote. Further information about the vouching process can be accessed by contacting the elections office at mnselection.ca. “The most important thing is to run a fair and transparent election. There are procedures in place now that will ensure that every Métis citizen can vote.”
Northern Region 3 Regional Director Glenn McCallum is pleased to see that this MNLA has gotten forward movement back on track. “The strength of the Métis spirit is so strong. No matter what struggles we face, we prevail.” He shares the opinion that the majority of the delegates who attended the assembly “want what’s best for our Nation. To hold and election and move forward will allow us to get back to the table and continue our Nation to Nation discussions about accessing capacity for strong programs in the areas of health, education, housing and so on.”
Vice President Gerald Morin thanked those who attended the two day event, many of whom travelled long distances to be there. “It is wonderful to see so many friends from throughout our Métis territory. Our future looks bright as we are in the best position we have ever been in in terms of recognition of our collective rights.”
Much work will need to be done to prepare for the upcoming election. The first order of business will be to hire Regional Returning Officers and Assistance Returning Officers. Information on how to qualify and apply can be found at mnselection.ca.