Clarence Sumner drove over 2,300 kilometres, and spent the night across the street from 10 Wellington in Gatineau, Que, the country’s headquarters for Indigenous Affairs across the river from Ottawa to bring allegations of vote buying in his community.
He wanted to meet Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan to see if anything can be done about the way elections are held in his community.
“I want the leaders of this country to know I’m here,” he said.
“I want them to know that the leaders of my community have a turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to try and be honest and do things fairly.”
Sumner is appealing the 2017 election held on the Pinaymootang First Nation in Manitoba, where he alleges money is often exchanged for votes.
“It’s a norm. it’s become a norm in my community to buy votes, mail in ballots preferably,” he said.
Pinaymootang is located 240 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.
He met with two bureaucrats from Crown Indigenous Relations, Yves Dennoncourt, acting director of Governance Operations Directorate, and Marc Boivin, director of research Policy and Legislative Initiatives.
They told Sumner they would follow up on his complaint.
Sumner also delivered a copy of his appeal to Indigenous Services.
He travelled all the way to Ottawa because he believes it’s more productive to meet people in person.
“I believe that the minister (O’Regan) can better exercise his judgement if he could read some of the appeal.”
Sumner successfully appealed the 2011 election when then Aboriginal Affairs minister Bernard Valcourt threw out the results and banned chief Garnet Woodhouse and three councilors from running for six years.
But Woodhouse declared himself innocent of vote buying and appealed Valcourt’s decision to Federal Court.
He was successful in 2013.
APTN News attempted to contact Woodhouse for comment but calls were not returned.
“Rather than being upset and getting mad at my leaders and my community I decided to use that energy to good and physically bring myself here in my own vehicle,” said Sumner.
Sumner said he will stick around southern Ontario until September 16th to try and meet the leaders of all the federal parties. On that date nominations for chief and council will begin for Pinaymootang’s next election.
“I’m out here because I believe that honesty will prevail.”
Sumner never did meet with O’Regan.