Judge halts Thunderchild by-election as ousted headman mounts Charter challenge
Michael Linklater, former councillor for Thunderchild First Nation, is pictured Aug. 12, 2020. (Francois Biber/CTV Saskatoon)
SASKATOON -- A by-election on Thunderchild First Nation will not go ahead following a ruling by a federal court judge.
On Sept. 16, Justice Nicholas McHaffie awarded an injunction at the request of Michael Linklater to stop a scheduled byelection to fill Linklater’s vacant seat on council.
Linklater was removed from his elected position effective July 13 after a complaint was brought forward to Thunderchild First Nation administration.
The complaint said Linklater did not reside on the First Nation, a requirement to be a council member according to its election bylaws.
“I am ordering that the byelection to fill the vacant seat for Headman on the Thunderchild First Nation Council be halted while Michael Linklater’s Charter challenge to his removal from that seat is before the Court,” McHaffie wrote in his decision.
In August, Linklater filed a statement of claim with federal court arguing his removal infringed on his Charter rights and freedoms.
Linklater’s application also states that the tribunal panel erred in that it failed to consider the “impossibility of the applicant (Linklater), or others from complying with the residency requirement because of the housing shortage on reserve.”
In his decision, McHaffie said Linklater’s request for an injunction was not opposed by either the Thunderchild First Nation government or those who requested his removal.
Linklater’s federal court application also calls on Thunderchild First Nation to hold a referendum when safe to do so, to remove the residency restriction for elected leaders within the Thunderchild Election Act and modify or remove it for councillors only.