VANCOUVER — The Assembly of First Nations has re-elected Perry Bellegarde as its national chief.
He won 328 of the 522 votes in a second ballot, giving him just over the 60 per cent needed to be elected as leader for a second term.
The vote in Vancouver wasn’t without controversy, as the four other candidates claimed election interference by the federal government because Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett was at the convention during the vote.
Candidate Sheila North of Manitoba said Bennett’s presence represents a “disgusting display of interference,” while Russ Diabo of Quebec called for the minister to be sanctioned.
Bennett’s office issued a statement saying “in no way” did the minister interfere in the election process.
It says Bennett was invited by Chief Marlene Poitras of Alberta to listen to her regional concerns and at no point was the election for national chief discussed.
Miles Richardson of British Columbia and Katherine Whitecloud of Manitoba were also in the race to lead the assembly.
Bellegarde, who is from the Little Black Bear First Nation in Treaty 4 territory in Saskatchewan, says his close relationship with the federal government has secured billions of dollars in new funding for Indigenous issues over the last three budgets, although he was criticized by other candidates for being too cosy with the government.