Thursday, May 24, 2012

The AFN National Chief Election is Underway

This race is one that people in Canada do not generally pay enough attention to.   The AFN National Chief is in many ways on par politically with the leader of federal opposition party or the premier of a small province.   The AFN National Chief speaks for about 725,000 status Indians.

Nominations opened yesterday and the field has more candidates than I expected.  I thought that Shawn Atleo had done a good enough job that he would be walking to an easy re-election.

Nominations close on June 12th at midnight eastern standard time.  

The 33rd Annual General Assembly will elect the next AFN Chief is Toronto on the weekend of July 17th to 19th.  There is a $35,000 spending limit.

To be nominated you need to get the endorsement of 15 chiefs or which 8 have to come from a province or a territory in which you do not live.  

The winning candidate needs to get the 60% of the vote in a ballot at the convention.   This can lead to many deadlocked votes when there are only two candidates left on the ballot.   Just to be sure this rule was still in place I checked the rules on the AFN website:

7.The winner of the election shall be that person who first gains a majority of sixty (60) per cent of the votes of the representatives of Members who are registered at the Assembly.

Each First Nation in Canada has one vote and that is exercised by the Chief.   What this means is that it does not matter what the roughly 725,000 status Indians in Canada think or want, all that matters is votes of the 600 or so Chiefs.  Each Chief can also have a proxy vote from another First Nation, which means a well organized campaign can come to the general assembly with large blocks of votes tied.

1/3 of the Chiefs come from BC but that is split among 30 or so different First Nation cultures.  In contrast the Cree are spread out over six provinces have the most chiefs overall.  As a friend said the AFN is really the Assembly of the Cree Nation.  

For political junkies the AFN National Chief race is very much like leadership conventions but with more backroom deals and brokering.   It is very fascinating to follow.  I will try once again to post as much as I can about the race as I can.

Shawn Atleo - from BC  - announced today that he is running for re-election
Terry Nelson - from Manitoba - former chief of Roseau River has said he is running.  He is best known for recently asking the fascist president of Iran for help.

Considering running
Bill Erasmus - AFN regional chief for the Northwest Territories - he is Dene
Pam Palmater - From Toronto - Twitter - a lawyer and professor in Toronto - she is Mi'kmaw
Joan Jack - From Manitoba

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