It’s up to First Nations leaders in British Columbia to decide if their representative on the executive of the Assembly of First Nations should remain in her role now she has declared as a Liberal Party candidate for the next federal election.
But according to Ken Young, a former advisor to former AFN national chief Phil Fontaine, B.C. Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould could tempt the wrath of the ruling Conservative Party and inspire a funding cut to the organization. “The AFN should not be seen to be financing any political party, directly or indirectly,” wrote Young in a letter. “This … must be dealt with or else it might be expected the Conservative government will take action against the organization in the form of withholding any financial obligations it might have with the AFN.” Isadore Day, chief of the Serpent River First Nation, also complained that AFN “fiscal resources are funding a formally announced candidate.” But Ernie Crey, an advisor to the Sto:lo Tribal Council, said Wilson-Raybould is being targeted by “old warhorses” in the AFN that he alleges drove out Shawn Atleo as national chief. Atleo resigned suddenly in May, and was often criticized for having too close ties to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office.
A spokesperson for the federal Aboriginal Affairs department states there is no funding cut planned for the AFN and Wilson-Raybould’s political ties are not relevant to the organization’s funding agreement.
Wilson-Raybould will take a leave from her role when the election writ is dropped, and if she is not the successful candidate in the election, will return to her role with the BC-AFN after the election.
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