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Election eligibility appeal denied

Courtesy Wahsontiio Stacey Facebook

Wahsontiio Stacey’s bid to be reinstated as a candidate for chief in the upcoming Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) election has been rejected by the Court of Kahnawake.

Stacey was omitted from the official version of the candidate list after vetting turned up a past criminal conviction that came with an ongoing firearms ban, making him the sole nominee to be disqualified from running. 

The Kahnawake court’s decision affirms electoral officer Angus Montour’s finding that Stacey is not eligible, a decision Stacey has cast as unfair.

“I think there’s a massive epidemic pertaining to the misuse of power by executives and chiefs in our community,” Stacey told The Eastern Door, adding he believes decisions affecting Kahnawake are made without sufficient community input.

“At the end of the day, I’m very happy that I got myself out of my comfort zone and tried to run. It brought such awareness to how the MCK functions and operates.”

The decision was written by justice Joyce M. King, who analyzed the case independently as the justice of the peace assigned the file, according to commissioner of justice Kevin Fleischer.

“It’s not my decision, it’s not the staff’s decision, it’s their decision,” said Fleischer.

Files pertaining to elections are prioritized because they are so time sensitive, he said. The ruling came just over a week after Stacey was first informed he was ineligible.

“It has to be done very quickly in case somebody’s added back to the ballot,” said Fleischer, citing fairness. “When we do one of these, it’s always a high-priority request.”

King’s decision notes that the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Election Law bars anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offence from holding office as a Council chief until six years after all sentences have been served.

A 10-year firearms ban applying to Stacey does not expire until December 2026, according to the decision, meaning he would not be eligible until December 2032. It arises from an assault conviction relating to an incident in 2012.

The ruling from King agrees with Montour’s finding that Stacey provided false information in his Schedule D declaration.

“On the questionnaire, the way I read it, it was asking if I had any charges or criminal offences pending against me within any legally recognized jurisdiction,” said Stacey. “I didn’t have any charges pending, so I didn’t check the box. It is no secret that I have been charged in Kahnawake before.”

The Schedule D declaration reads: “I have not been charged and do not have any criminal offence charges (indictable offence or felony) pending against me within any legally recognized jurisdiction.”

However, King writes that Stacey’s Schedule C(h) declaration more squarely relates to his case and is also false. 

“I declare that I have not been, within the previous six years, convicted and sentenced for a criminal offence as defined by the MCK Election Law. The six-year ban commences only after the sentence has been served in full,” reads that declaration.

Stacey suggested to The Eastern Door that he did not consider the firearms ban to be a continuation of his sentence. “My crime was in 2012, and I was done my jail time in the summer of 2016 or 2017. Regardless, it was more than six years ago. Once my jail term was done, my lawyer briefed me that my sentence was complete,” he said.

Stacey said he ran in the first place to advance the sports and recreation portfolio with the hope of pursuing state-of-the-art facilities for community youth.

“I think despite all our differences, most of us share common wishes for our community,” he said. “We want our kids and people to grow up in a place where we have access to the best schools, facilities, coaches, mentors, and culture. Right now, I feel that we face thunderous amounts of inequality compared to our peers and opponents when we leave Kahnawake to compete.”

When he was first removed from the list of nominees, he made a Facebook post saying he is motivated to share his story and encourage youth to live fulfilling lives and to avoid his own past mistakes.

“While I congratulate Mr. Stacey for being involved with the youth, for being responsible and addressing his criminal charges, the fact remains that the 10-year firearms ban will conclude in 2026,” writes King in the decision.

marcus@easterndoor.com

This article was originally published in print on June 21 in issue 33.25 of The Eastern Door.

Marcus is an award-winning journalist and managing editor of The Eastern Door, where he has been reporting since 2021 on issues that matter to Kahnawake and Kanesatake. He was previously editor-in-chief of The Link and a contributing editor at Our Canada magazine.

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Marcus is an award-winning journalist and managing editor of The Eastern Door, where he has been reporting since 2021 on issues that matter to Kahnawake and Kanesatake. He was previously editor-in-chief of The Link and a contributing editor at Our Canada magazine.