Weekusk v Wapass

The Federal Court of Canada released a decision on September 5, 2014 in <a href="http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2014/2014fc845/2014fc845.html" title="Weekusk v. Wapass"><em>Weekusk v. Wapass</em></a>, allowing an application for judicial review of a decision of the chief and band council of the Thunderchild First Nation to suspend the applicant band councillor, Mr. Weekusk, and request he be removed from office by the Thunderchild First Nation Appeal Tribunal.

The impugned decision of the chief and band council was triggered by a complaint from a band member that Mr. Weekusk had breached his oath of office. The court found that the chief and band council had failed to provide Mr. Weekusk with adequate notice of the allegations against him or an opportunity to respond to the allegations. All that was set out in the agenda for the meeting at which the complaint was considered was that a complaint under the Thunderchild First Nation Election Act (the "Act") was being considered. Mr. Weekusk failed to attend the meeting and in his absence the complaint was discussed and sanctions were issued against him. As the Act does not provide him with an opportunity to appeal the band council's decision this meeting was of particular importance to Mr. Weekusk's interests and the court found that not even the most minimal requirements of procedural fairness were met in this case. As the court quashed the decision based on the breach of procedural fairness, it refused to address whether or not the decision was reasonable. However, the court did note that there was insufficient evidence in the record to reach a conclusion as to its reasonableness and noted that the chief and band council may want to consider how to better document the evidence they rely on when reconsidering the complaint in case the reasonableness of their subsequent decision is also challenged by way of judicial review.