Felix Sr. v. Sturgeon Lake First Nation

The Federal Court of Canada released a decision on September 23, 2014 in Felix Sr. v. Sturgeon Lake First Nation, allowing an application for judicial review of a decision of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation Appeal Tribunal (the "Appeal Tribunal") in relation to a band council election.

One of the applicants, Mr. Henry J. Felix Sr., had run as a candidate for chief councillor in the 2013 election for the Sturgeon Lake First Nation (the "Band"). However, one day before the election had taken place (several days after nominations had closed) a court order for costs was issued against Mr. Felix in relation to a past lawsuit he brought against the Band. The Chief Electoral Officer put up a sign at around mid-day on the day of the election notifying voters that Mr. Felix had been disqualified as a candidate based on his outstanding debt to the Band. Mr. Felix still received a majority of votes in the election but the ballots cast in his favour were not counted on the basis that he was disqualified due to his outstanding debt. Mr. Felix unsuccessfully sought to appeal his disqualification to the Appeal Tribunal. Upon judicial review, the court found that the Appeal Tribunal had failed to meet its duty of procedural fairness to Mr. Felix in reaching this decision as it had gone beyond its appropriate role and participated in the disqualification decision it subsequently heard on appeal. In the court's view, this raised a reasonable apprehension of bias and provided a sufficient basis for quashing the Appeal Tribunal's decision. The court also went on to provide guidance to the Appeal Tribunal as to what would be necessary for their decision on the appeal to be reasonable and remitted the matter for their determination.
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