Ottawa Appeals Court Ruling That Limits First Nations’ Ability to Postpone Elections

April 9, 2021 Updated: April 9, 2021

OTTAWA—Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says his department will appeal a Federal Court ruling that limits First Nations’ ability to postpone the election of chiefs and councils during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indigenous Services Canada developed regulations last year to allow First Nation councils to delay elections and extend the terms of their chiefs and councillors to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Miller says the regulations help First Nations avoid a critical governance gap that might be caused by their inability to hold elections during the pandemic.

Early this month, the Federal Court ruled that a section of the regulations, related to custom election codes, is invalid.

Between April 8, 2020, and March 22, 2021, 116 First Nations used the regulations to postpone elections to avoid COVID-19 outbreaks.

During the same period, 36 First Nations held elections under the Indian Act, 15 under the First Nations Elections Act and 65 under a community or custom process.