BCMF Letter to Métis People Regarding MNBC Legal Position

The following letter is from the BCMF to all Métis people in British Columbia…

Re: MNBC Letters to Demand Removal of NOVA (Surrey) and VMCS (Vancouver) Leaders

Métis People of British Columbia,

I am writing this letter based on recent conversations BCMF has solicited from three independent legal counsel sources regarding MNBC claims in their letter dated August 21st, 2011.

On August 21st MNBC sent letters demanding the resignations of two Métis Chartered Community leaders, refusal to recognize these individuals as delegates at the September MNBC Annual General Meeting, and threatened other potential action to have these leaders removed by the MNBC as outlined in their correspondence. The MNBC letter was signed by MNBC President Bruce Dumont and Lower Mainland Regional Director Henry Hall. Needless to say this has created a strong reaction and BCMF has requested legal opinions from various sources and is sharing the information for Métis people to review. BCMF encourages individuals to seek a legal opinion to reconfirm the following challenges.

According to the August 21st, 2011 MNBC letter and subsequent email response it appears MNBC takes the position that their actions are defendable as per the language of MNBC legislation and the Community Charter. BCMF strong disagrees and believes this recent action is yet another clear example of mismanagement and gross MNBC self government understanding.

Therefore the following 13 point summary and conclusion statements offer another perspective for Métis people to review considering the misguided handling by MNBC leaders in this situation:

1. The only relevant bylaw of the MPCBC with respect to the matter involved with the community leaders from Surrey and Vancouver appears to be Section 9. There would be no breach of the MNBC (MPCBC) bylaws in this respect unless the MNBC Constitution was not complied with or upheld. There does not appear to be any breach in this respect.

2. Under Section 12 of the MNBC Constitution, the MNBC consists of only 11 individuals and has no jurisdiction to interfere with a Métis citizen’s right of association (provided for in Sections 10 and 11 thereof).

3. The 11 individuals comprising the MNBC have jurisdiction, under Section 23 of the Constitution, to suspend a member of their own Board, but they do not have jurisdiction thereunder to prohibit a Métis citizen from acting as an officer or Board member of a Métis community (such as Nova Métis Heritage Association and the Vancouver Métis Cultural Society) or to demand their resignation as a Community President or Community Board Member.

4. The disqualifications under Section 23 of the MNBC Constitution only apply to “a Member of the MNBC” – the 11 individuals referred to in Section 12 of the MNBC Constitution. The disqualifications are governed by the first line of that Section 23.

5. The reference to breach “of fiduciary duty to Métis citizens” in subsection 23.8 of the MNBC Constitution only applies to the 11 individuals comprising the MNBC.

6. With respect to disqualification as a Member of the Métis Nation Governing Assembly (MNGA) under Section 34.7 of the Constitution, there is nothing in the Constitution that specifically gives the 11 individuals comprising the MNBC the jurisdiction to disqualify anyone.

7. The 11 individuals of the MNBC have only the power and jurisdiction given to them under their governing documents and perhaps by the Society Act due to Section 20 of the MPCBC Bylaws and the definition of “Directors” in Section 3 thereof. However one may question whether the MPCBC Bylaws can apply to any Métis Citizens that did not actually apply to be Members of the MPCBC. A Board cannot usurp unto themselves powers not vested in them. Sections 12 to 27 of the MNBC Constitution dealing with the 11 individuals comprising the MNBC (and if applicable Section 24(2) of the Society Act) do not grant them any specific powers of suspension or disqualification in this respect except for disqualification of one of themselves. However with respect to suspension from the MNGA, Section 35 of the Constitution specifically vests this power in the MNGA itself. The 11 individuals comprising the MNBC do not have this power.

8. Another restriction that exists for sitting as a Member of the MNGA is in Section 3.3 of the Métis Nation Governing Assembly Act which requires that the voting delegate must be registered with MNBC Central Registry in accordance with the MNBC Registry Act. Since Ken and Russ are registered Métis citizens, this restriction is not applicable to them.

9. There does not appear to be any specific provision in any of MNBC’s governing documents (including the Citizenship Act, etc.) that would empower the 11 individuals of MNBC to disqualify or suspend Ken and Russ in any capacity.

10. Under Section 29 of the MNBC Constitution “the elected Presidents or Vice-Presidents of Communities” are part of the MNGA. They cannot be disqualified or suspended except as set forth in paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 herein.

11. The Community Charter Agreement in Section 4.2 provides that the Community President or designated delegate will be invited as recognized delegates to General Meetings of the MNBC as defined therein. Furthermore Section 4.1 states that the MNBC “will respect the autonomy of the (Community)”.

12. The procedure for dealing with any disputes under the Charter Agreement is provided for in Section 7 thereof.

13. However, in the Charter Agreement, MNBC is referred to as Métis Provincial Council of British Columbia. This is most confusing, since in Section 69 of the Constitution the MPCBC is distinct from the MNBC and is referred to as a Secretariat.

Conclusion and Summary

It appears there is only one section in the MNBC Constitution that deals with the AGM, and that is section 68. It doesn’t say much, except for what the AGM agenda must include. Section 69 of the Constitution advises that the secretariat’s (the MPCBC) sole purpose will be to carry out administrative duties of the MNBC, MNGA, and the Senate.

This begs the question does holding an AGM, as contemplated in the MNBC Constitution, count only as an administrative duty. The answer is likely yes. If this is the case, then Métis people need to read both documents for the purpose of understanding the rules as such and how they apply to an MNBC AGM.

The MPCBC bylaws address the rules of the AGM in much greater detail than what is set out in the MNBC Constitution. The key section for the purposes of answering the question; “Can the MNBC legally dictate who community delegates are for their AGM” is Section 14. This section advises that “each Member 18 years or older shall be entitled to one vote at General Meetings, except for the British Columbia United Métis Youth Circle committee representatives who shall be entitled to vote if they are fifteen (15) years of age or older.”

What is totally lacking from the MNBC Constitution and the bylaws are any rules addressing community delegates attending the AGM. Simply put, there are no legislative rules in place for this in either of the MNBC Constitution or the bylaws. However as noted in point 11 above the Community Charter requires MNBC to invite the community President or recognized delegate.

In closing BCMF takes the position that the August 21st, 2011 MNBC letter would not be supported in law and there is no such authority for MNBC President Dumont or Lower Mainland Regional Director Henry Hall to justify their actions and inform the NOVA and VMCS leaders that MNBC will not recognize them as delegates at the upcoming MNBC AGM should they decide to attend. This is an MNBC political maneuver to create confusion and interfere with these communities hidden by the rhetoric that the MNBC letter was forced to protect the governance of the Métis Nation. Again the MNBC governance documents reviewed do not support this claim.

Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions about this correspondence (1-778-388-5013). Please review the points outlined in this correspondence carefully and review the MNBC letter to review their actions. This is yet another misguided attack by MNBC board members using MNBC resources on Métis community leaders who have demanded accountability and transparency from MNBC.

I trust Métis people will find this information helpful.

Thank you

Keith Henry


British Columbia Métis Federation

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