A Federal Court Judge has ruled that Garry Reece must be returned as Mayor of Lax Kw’alaams.
Justice Michael D. Manson rendered a judgement on Nov. 20 which indicated the steps the band took to replace Reece did not follow the rules stipulated by the band.
“The dismissal of the previous appeal board was unreasonable and contrary to the election regulations and invalid. The process for the appointment of the new appeal board was unfair and unreasonable. As such the new appeal board was not properly constituted and did not have jurisdiction to accept and decide the Band Council’s petition,” wrote Justice Manson.
“Given that the appointment of the new appeal board was invalid, the decision to remove Garry Reece as mayor is quashed and the appointment of John Helin is invalid. Garry Reece remains mayor.”
The ruling — which lists Reece and councillors Andrew Tait, Lawrence Sankey, Barb Henry, Stan Dennis, Victor Kelly and Robbie Hughes as applicants and councillors Helen Johnson, Carl Sampson Jr., Russel Mather, Ted White, Geraldine Alexcee and Chris Sankey, appointed Mayor John Helin and members of the newly appointed appeals board as respondents — does not cast judgement on whether the alleged affair brought to the band by complainants in the community definitively filled the requirements of “failure to uphold the code of conduct, failure to remove himself from a conflict of interest situation and acting dishonestly in his role as Mayor” that were cited as cause for his removal.
“There may have been sufficient grounds as alleged for Mayor Reece’s removal, but the process taken for his removal was fatally flawed,” wrote Justice Manson.
According to the court documents, it was unclear whether Reece was able to attend the first 90 minutes of the new appeal board hearing held on Aug. 1, 2014 and was not permitted to see the evidence against him, with the exception of a single email.
Emails sent to John Helin, Chris Sankey and Garry Reece were not immediately returned.