To the Expositor:
Patrick Corbiere’s letter (‘M’Chigeeng band member questions election style,’ October 5) tries to “imply” wrongdoing by the newly elected Chief Joseph Hare. I have known Joe Hare for more years than Patrick might be aware of and I can vouch for Joe Hare’s honesty, fairness and the caring he shows for the community of M’Chigeeng and its individual members. Many other M’Chigeeng members agree, as we can see by the numerous times he has been re-elected to lead this community. And, yes, I am a friend of Joe’s and proud to be so.
Patrick Corbiere has tried to fly on the coattails of Martin Debassige’s unsubstantiated claims of deception in the firing of Mr. Johnson, by noting that Indian Affairs trained Mr. Johnson. Both Martin Debassige and Patrick Corbiere should know that our elections are not under Indian Affairs any more, so Mr. Johnson’s training was in the wrong process, and perhaps that is part of the reason he failed at his job. Patrick Corbiere tries to imply that then-chief candidate Joe Hare had the CAO Brenda Ense fire Mr. Johnson. Patrick Corbiere owes the CAO Brenda Ense an apology. She certainly has a mind of her own and administers this First Nation very competently and fairly. Chief Joseph Hare has integrity and would never compromise an election, whether he won or lost, by trying to influence it in any way. I have known Chief Joe Hare to lose two elections, and Joe has never blamed anyone or tried to imply someone did wrong. In fact, he has always acted, even in private, in a very gentlemanly and sportsmanlike manner. So, Mr. Corbiere, there is no corruption on the horizon.
If we remember recent events, Mr. Corbiere ran for chief in 2007 and lost. Perhaps he still has hurt feelings.
As a band member of M’Chigeeng who lives here, I know that we (band members and the administration) always try to do things properly. We have a Custom Election Code that has a route for proper appeals in elections. I do not know what either Martin Debassige or Patrick Corbiere hope to gain by going to a newspaper with their minor complaints. In Patrick Corbiere’s own words, perhaps it is he who is trying to undermine self-government. Because, in my view, I think that hiring a new electoral officer was a proper decision if Mr. Johnson was not doing his job.
I do agree with Mr. Corbiere that leadership can only be based on transparency, accountability and redress and that is exactly what we have. It may not be Mr. Corbiere’s fault that he does not live in this community, so he does not know what a model First Nation this is. In fact, as an example, Indian Affairs thinks M’Chigeeng is a model by repeatedly requesting M’Chigeeng to oversee new health initiatives for seven surrounding First Nations.
When the Elections Appeal Committee renders its decision, I believe they will be of the same view as I.