Posted: Tue Oct 03, 2006 8:47 pm Post subject: Did the Libs Pay First Nation Members to Vote for Delegates?
October 3, 2006 CORNWALL STANDARD-FREEHOLDER (ON)
Some natives paid $20 in Liberal vote
Some members of the Roseau River First Nation were paid $20 each to vote during the Liberal leadership delegate selection over the weekend, the band's chief says.
Chief Terry Nelson said Monday the band members were paid to cover the cost of travelling to the polling station.
Liberal officials in Manitoba said the party will not investigate unless it receives a formal complaint.
"As far as I know, it never occurred," said Bill Zuk, spokesman for the Manitoba wing of the federal party.
"Unless there is real evidence, all we have is a rumour."
Prentice urges probe of $20 vote inducement
Minister blasts use of band's funds to boost voter turnout for Liberal leadership race
BILL CURRY AND CAMPBELL CLARK
OTTAWA -- Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice said yesterday that native chiefs should not pay members of their reserves to vote in the Liberal leadership race and he asked officials to look into a Manitoba reserve that offers a $20 incentive to vote.
"It's not appropriate for funds which have been advanced for the purpose of helping the lives of aboriginal communities, especially women and kids, to be used for partisan political purposes, and we need to get to the bottom of that to find out if that is what's happened," Mr. Prentice said.
The minister was responding to public comments by Chief Terry Nelson of Roseau River First Nation, who said he offered $20 in gas money to reserve residents willing to make the nearly one-hour drive to vote in this past weekend's Liberal leadership race.
Mr. Nelson said about 30 Liberal band members took up the offer. Mr. Nelson supports Bob Rae in the leadership race, but Mr. Rae's campaign staff said the chief was not acting on their behalf.
Mr. Nelson said the money came out of band funds, but was not federal money. He said the band makes money through gaming and land deals.
Offering gas money for voters is a long-standing band practice to encourage the largely unemployed reserve population to take part in general elections and political leadership contests, he said.
"I wouldn't doubt that minister Prentice would be angry because there are very, very few people who ever vote for the Conservatives based on their policies," he said yesterday.
"If he doesn't want federal funds to be used, then he should do something about the 77-per-cent unemployment in my community."
Mr. Prentice said it can be difficult to separate a band's federal funds from its own revenue.
"It's a bit of a shell game in a sense. Whether the money comes from the left hand or the right hand, it doesn't really matter," he said. "There are still electoral-law issues about paying people to vote."
A spokesman for the Liberal Party, Tait Simpson, said the party is looking into the matter, but cannot yet say if it will launch a formal investigation.
Leadership front-runner Michael Ignatieff said yesterday that any allegations of impropriety should be investigated by the party. "If any campaign is found to have done that, they better change their act."
One leadership contender, Joe Volpe, has been fined $20,000 because volunteers supporting his bid paid the membership fees of people they recruited to join the party, a violation of campaign rules.
The party's leadership-rules committee, which ruled on the allegations against Mr. Volpe, rejected an argument that the breach was minor because it was committed by his volunteer supporters rather than senior campaign organizers.
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Did the Libs Pay First Nation Members to Vote for Delegates?