Creston Valley photo credit Samantha Martens.
After a recent federal court ruling, an arbitrator will once again have to make a decision in the Louie versus Louie case. The arbitrator initially found Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie and Councillor Sandra Luke had breached their fiduciary duty, but not their oath of office when they awarded themselves $5,000 in 2009 from the Band’s compensation fund. A federal court recently disagreed with that decision and said the two are the same thing.
Rob Louie Junior is a legal scholar and the litigation strategist in the case to see the Chief and Councillor removed from office. He explains how the Band’s Election Code works in regards to the issues.
“A band councillor may be removed if they breach an oath of office, it doesn’t say a band councillor shall be removed, which would be mandatory. So that’s why it’s discretionary and that’s why only an arbitrator can remove a band councillor.”
In light of the recent federal court ruling, an arbitration reconsideration hearing has now been scheduled on Tuesday, September 11 in Creston. It may take up to a month or more for the decision to be announced.
Rob Louie Junior says there are hundreds of people in the First Nation and Aboriginal law community who have been following the case. “Louie versus Louie is a well known case. A lot of lawyers that practice Aboriginal law know Louie versus Louie, so it’s a landmark decision. The removal of a chief as a consequence of this would set a precedent, so all eyes are on this small band in southeastern British Columbia.”
Chief Jason Louie and Councillor Sandra Luke were required to pay back the $5,000. The money was part of a $125,000 payment from the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) because a refuse site was encroaching on Band land. Rob Louie Junior says, according to someone with the RDCK at the time, there were no strings attached to the payment. Council awarded themselves the money while in camera. The payment of the funds was made public two years later in 2011.
Rob Louie Junior is Chief Jason Louie’s brother. Wayne Louie is pursuing the case again the Chief and is also his uncle.